JASPER, IN— Design challenges come in all shapes and sizes, much like client wishlists do. Whether the problem is a lack of storage, lack of light or lack of aesthetic appeal, a kitchen undergoing renovation is going through the process for a specific reason. It’s the designer’s job to interpret the client, interpret the problem, and make a miracle happen…a stylish miracle.
Decorá Cabinets’ 2007 “Design with Decorá” contest encouraged designers to enter their brightest moments of creative problem solving using Decorá semi-custom cabinetry and a dose of good design sense for a chance to win cash prizes. Brightest moments is an understatement as, coincidentally, each of the winning projects played dark and light against each other for a different effect.
Judged by design experts Ellen Cheever, CKD, ASID, Penny Chin, CID, ASID, IIDA and Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, CAPS, the winning kitchens in this contest are a model of smart design conquering some of the most common and toughest problems that kitchen designers and builders are faced with on a regular basis.
Although it sounds like one of the better problems to have, too much space was the obstacle for the owners of one kitchen. The high ceilings and expanse of airy space lacked a cozy quality. Neal Luck of Long Beach, CA-based NHL Cabinets was called in to divide and conquer the Great Wide Open, forming functional divisions of space.
Luck was charged with not just creating physical divisions, but also creating the illusion of divided space.
With this in mind, the designer created a dark, elegant island that served to provide a necessary visual break. The majority of the cabinetry was specified to be below countertop level to create a clear sightline through the kitchen to the adjoining living room, with a view made possible by a pass-through.
Rich, dark tones in the cabinetry make the architectural elements of the light, cream-colored limestone hood the centerpiece of the room. The hood is flanked by stained glass windows that feature a pattern resembling that of the tiled mosaic backsplash.
To create the classic look of the kitchen, Luck specified Decorá cabinetry, a large copper farm sink, antique-styled faucets, fixtures and a pot filler, and the element the judges liked best – stained glass windows.
“We particularly liked how [Luck] used the stained glass windows around the hood to lighten the space,” said Cheever of Luck’s project, which won the prize for the western region before being named the national contest winner.
The functionality of each part of the kitchen was the principal concern going into the design. To achieve complete functionality in each section, Luck came up with various work stations including a butler’s pantry separated from the main kitchen space with a second dishwasher, a second copper farm sink, wine chiller and pantry.
Custom panels were created to adorn the 72" refrigerator to tone down the oversized appliance’s visual impact. Additional cabinetry was designed to serve as a built-in display area for the client’s extensive collection of crystal, china and antique linens.
Best in the Midwest
Nowadays, the island is virtually a design standard in the kitchen. Anyone who doesn’t have one wants one, and anyone who wants one can generally have one.
But what of the galley kitchen? Or the kitchen that appears to be an especially crowded coat closet with a stove? Or, the kitchen whose footprint can’t be altered? This was the challenge for designer Tracy Foslien, whose kitchen contest entry was touted “Best Kitchen in the Midwest.”
Foslien, of Bloomington, MN-based Home Valu Interiors, was faced with the challenge of incorporating another workspace in the form of an island, without a lot of extra space with which to work.
The result is a bright, country-inspired entry that features the client-desired small island. Designed to be narrow to fit the space, the thin, asymmetrical island has bar seating that separates the prep area from an adjoining breakfast nook, providing not just additional workspace but a visual and physical break between the two areas.