Kitchen Offers Modern Spin on Art Nouveau

FERNANDINA BEACH, FL— The phrase “dream kitchen” is tossed about a lot these days, and usually conjures up images of exquisite cabinetry and countertops in rich colors, intermingled with the latest in technologically advanced appliances. Space would be ample in the dream kitchen, and optimal functionality a given.

Well, Watson Custom Home Builders in Florida believes it has created the “dream kitchen” within its 4,000-sq.-ft. “Dream Home.” The $1.5 million custom concept house, located in North Hampton, FL, features five bedrooms, five bathrooms, dual balconies, a large pool and hot tub and, of course, a spacious gourmet kitchen. The concept house was open to the public as a showhouse to raise funds for the Monique Burr Foundation for Children.

The design premise, according to Watson Custom Home Builders, was to design a home that meets the functional needs and aesthetic style demands of the population over the next decade. The focus was on two primary generations – Baby Boomers and Generation Xers.

The kitchen in the home is designed to specifically function well for a young or older family. Concepts such as green and sustainable design were incorporated in the kitchen and throughout the house. The style is a contemporary Art Nouveau, chosen to meet the aesthetic sensibilities of the groups.

The open floor plan encompassing the kitchen, breakfast area and family room also features quiet areas. Easy-care materials were also key to the design.

Understanding the Concept

“I was told this was a ‘concept house,’ which meant futuristic. However, the style of the kitchen is actually traditional,” comments Rita Scholz, ASID, president/interior designer/owner, Amelia Interior Design, Inc., who was contracted to design the interior of the home. “The kitchen has more of a traditional element, because that’s what people seem to want.”

Scholz approached the home’s design by questioning what people want to see – “what you can get right now that maybe they’ve never seen before,” she comments. “So, I decided that I had to put in a number of elements that have never been seen before and probably have never been done before – maybe even a new decorating element that is just beginning to touch the market.”

In keeping with that idea, Scholz tried to design the entire house based on a more modernistic Art Nouveau idea, “a contemporary Art Nouveau,” she says. “We’re seeing that idea touch the market through the use of accessories, which are very much a copy of the old Art Nouveau. But, in a lot of new urban-style designs, there are Art Nouveau elements, just done in more of a modern fashion. So, that was the concept of the house.”

Working the Kitchen

The kitchen area begins with a large pantry located in the hallway between the dining room and the main kitchen space. Through the kitchen door and to the right is a narrow shelving unit that reaches almost to the ceiling.

To the left, an L-shaped bank of cabinets flanks a large center island that acts as the main work area of the space.

“The L-shaped perimeter features wall-to-ceiling appliances from KitchenAid, including a paneled refrigerator, as well as a stainless steel microwave, cooktop and ovens, among other items,” she comments. A detailed hearth is featured over the kitchen cooktop.

The cabinets and appliance fronts are from KraftMaid Cabinetry, in a lighter shade with an auburn glaze, according to Scholz. “We did the glazing and did some detailing,” she reports. “We also added ribbed glass to some of the door fronts, so it wasn’t traditional glass. This was one of the things we did that was a little bit more contemporary.”

“There is a small work area on the outside perimeter of the kitchen, but the total work area was meant to be on the center island,” Scholz comments. “The island was reduced in width but extended in length. All of the work movement around the kitchen was designed to go around it.

“So, it’s a little bit of a different design than we usually see,” she continues. “Usually, a lot of workspace is on the outside perimeter, but this was actually workspace that was to be done on the island. The only sink in the kitchen, which is from Kohler, is located there, which was an undermount on granite with a garbage disposal. The idea was that, when you’re chopping vegetables or whatever, you scrape it off and into the garbage disposal. It was all to be easy cleanup – easy use and easy cleanup.”

The center island also aided with storage issues, offering full storage on both sides.

The other countertops in the kitchen were Silestone quartz with Microban in Stellar Night, a shade of black. “I wanted a strong contrast with the other colors in the room,” Scholz comments.

To contrast with the countertops, Scholz employed hardware in brushed nickel on the cabinets.

Scholz also designed a slate backsplash for the cooktop. “I thought it made a neat background, with the darker Silestone and the lighter cabinets,” she offers.

One of the twists she employed in the space was the approach she took to a small corner on the outside perimeter. “The corner was dark, so I mirrored the backsplash wall and used undercabinet lighting to brighten it,” she comments. “It provides a dramatic touch against the dark Silestone countertop.”

Another distinctive touch in the room is the flooring.

“The kitchen floor is travertine, but it is a different travertine because it is a vein cut,” Scholz explains. “The typical travertine is a cross cut. And, we used polished travertine, which gives a little bit more of a formal look. So, that’s where I played up the Art Nouveau look. Art Nouveau is just a little bit more formal.”

She is quick to point out that the house itself is not overly formal, however. “It’s just very comfortable,” she reports.
Another reason for the polished travertine is its durability, Scholz adds. “It withstands stains, spills, kids, dogs, whatever,” she comments.

With regard to lighting, “the kitchen itself sits off of a breakfast nook and a family room, which are both outside rooms with windows. The kitchen does not have any outside windows, so the light comes into the kitchen from the breakfast nook and the family room,” notes Scholz. “There are very tall windows in those two rooms, so a lot of light does come in. It’s not dark by any means.”

To enhance the natural light in the room, Scholz placed two chandeliers over the center island, and rows of recessed cans around the kitchen.

For more about this project, click here.