Designers Convert Kitchen Reality Into Dream

JOHNSON CITY, TN— As most design professionals are aware, one of the most common requests is to turn a client’s dream into reality. However, in the case of this stunning 14'x20' kitchen renovation, the homeowners actually wanted to turn their reality into a dream.

Enter Laura E. Duncan, ASID of Johnson City, TN-based Ken Ross Architects, who along with Lisa Ball of Kitchens by Design (also based in Johnson City, TN), was asked to create a “dream kitchen,” complete with gourmet appliances.

Duncan explains: “It was primarily aesthetic complaints that the homeowners had about the previous layout. Therefore, they wanted to update the appliances and incorporate more storage or, better yet, more smart storage, complete with specialized organizational dividers, a pull-out pantry and ample shelving.”

She continues: “They also wanted to update the finishes in their existing kitchen, adding more rich and textural finishes, while keeping in mind the functionality and practicality of everyday use.”

The project was not without its challenges, Duncan adds.

“It was a renovation project, and therefore one of the main challenges was to try to minimize the relocation of electrical and plumbing while staying within budget – although we did have a fairly generous budget,” she admits.

She notes: “Overall I would categorize the design theme as transitional – using rich, traditional materials, but more streamlined and cleaned up at the same time. The design team was also very cognizant of not overdoing the space with carved moldings, but rather using a simple square paneled door for the cabinetry.”

Faux painter Lori Burelson of Johnson City, TN-based Faux Beautiful treated the walls with a soft, green glaze faux finish to add depth to the surface and complement the cream glaze featured on the KraftMaid cabinetry.

Completing the look of the design were hardwood floors, which were laid in varying plank sizes, adding warmth with a comforting repetition of pattern.

Hidden In Plain Sight

According to Duncan, the cabinet layout was developed to integrate well with the high-end appliances,
“We used panels to conceal the GE Professional Series refrigerator,” she explains. “We used the panels on the cabinetry for that and utilized dishwasher drawers, putting cabinet fronts on them for the same purpose.”

There was an added benefit to selecting the dishwasher drawers, which were from Fisher & Paykel: the homeowners are empty nesters (and don’t cook as much as they used to). This approach allowed them to run half the dish load that they would have in the past.

A GE Professional Series gas range was teamed with a pop-up downdraft that eliminated the need for a bulky hood. This allowed the range to be placed along the bar for both good interaction with bar occupants and to capture the view of the water garden just outside the windows.

“I think the coolest part of that is the pop-up downdraft, which allowed us to have [considerable] freedom. Plus, it cleaned up the overall visual aspect. Meanwhile, the backsplash – which features full-bodied porcelain tile in a charcoal finish – runs across at a 45-degree angle, adding a warmth to the design,” she points out.

It also creates an illusion of depth and height between the wall and base cabinets, she adds.

Similar to the dishwasher drawers, the design team installed a Dacor warming drawer with the cabinet panel face. It added a cohesiveness and consistency to the rest of the cabinetry.

“The homeowners entertain a lot, and the purpose was to have a fully functioning entertaining kitchen, particularly for times when their grandchildren would visit,” she reports.

In the Flow

According to Duncan, the island played a critical role in maintaining a natural flow to the U-shaped kitchen. Placed in the middle of the kitchen, the island aided the work flow for when multiple cooks used the space.

Duncan explains: “The island was important to the homeowner because it provided an extra work surface for rolling pastries, and it provided extra storage for pots and pans, as well as a space for the trash bin. The wine chiller, also from the GE Professional Series, was located there.”

Cambria engineered stone countertops added a richness and the feel of granite, according to Duncan, while the embedded epoxy of the product eliminated the need for sealing.

She continues: “A bar was added to provide an eating surface for quick meals for the entire family, including the homeowners’ grandchildren.” The seating at the bar was located for ease of interaction with the cook, while offering a view of the TV/entertainment center in the adjacent den, Duncan adds.

Glowing Design

Another critical element to the success of the remodel was the strategic use of lighting.

For instance, recessed can lights were selected mainly for their low profile, and were utilized to maintain a clean ceiling surface, while also providing necessary task lighting over the bar area.

Kichler “Xenon” lighting strips were used under the wall cabinets to provide a warm (but cooler than halogen) light for the work area.

“The decorative light fixtures in the distressed black metal finish from Thomas Lighting were selected to add warmth and beauty, while pulling out the black accent color used in the hardware and the countertop of the island,” she notes.

However, it is the use of natural light in the space that may have caused the greatest impact on the overall design.

“Natural light definitely helps the design tremendously,” she offers. “We did minimal window treatments, and we utilized plantation shutters for the control of the natural light in an effort to fit in line with the clean lines of the cabinetry,” she describes.

For a finishing touch, the design team matched the finish on the shutters to the cream glaze on the KraftMaid cabinets.