Kitchen Exudes ‘French Countryside Chateau’ Style

Some homes have a certain air about them. And this new-build home is no exception, exuding the charm and Old World style of a French countryside chateau.

Indeed, local custom home builder JP McMahon Builders created a breath of fresh air in the Windy City with the help of James W. Livingston, CKD, who designed the kitchen.

The project marked Livingston’s first collaboration with JP McMahon. It was completed just a few months ago, notes Livingston.

“The client gave us creative control and a large space to work with… The approximate size of this kitchen is 18'x30'. The large expanse of the kitchen warranted a large, central island to seat at least four people,” recalls the designer, whose firm, Livingston Kitchens, is located in Chicago, IL.

A second showroom, designed by Livingston, is set to open in Deer Park, IL in early 2007. He’s also owned and operated Smartrooms, Inc., another Chicago-based showroom.

Carte Blanche

Having received carte blanche to design the new home, the builder devised an apropos design aesthetic for the interior and exterior: “French Countryside Chateau.”

“It is the overall design theme of the home, [so] it was important to bring the exterior design elements into the home.

“[Therefore], the design renders many themes from the exterior of the home that were brought into the interior architecture,” notes Livingston, whom the builder trusted to carry it through to the kitchen – which is located just off the family room of the home.

“There’s about a 12' opening that connects them. The family room incorporates some of the same elements of wood and stone, [like on the] fireplace,” describes Livingston.

“It is always important to create functionality and flow from room to room. The style, flow and feel within the spaces are key factors in designing any room that is open to family or other rooms,” elaborates Livingston.

“This was especially true with this particular kitchen, which needed to continue the home’s overall style,” he adds.

je ne C’est quois

To continue the French ambiance in the kitchen, Livingston devised a plan that included the “use of limestone walls and flooring, accent walls, a white perimeter of cabinets and a rich, deep wood on the large, central island.”

“The white finish of the perimeter cabinets is a custom distressed lace finish with an espresso glaze. This is consistent with the motif and style of the kitchen,” elaborates Livingston.

On the island the designer applied a “dark, rich brown Bistro finish on cherry [wood]… The burl ash door inserts provide an elegant look, while the large 8" corner columns complete the overall furniture quality of this piece.”

All of the cabinets were supplied by Wood-Mode, Inc.

Livingston says he tied all of them together with granite countertops. “The natural stone countertops bring in a consistency and pull the space together,” remarks the designer.

“We did also add some additional archways to create even more [of a French countryside chateau] effect,” he adds.

French Hideaway

Livingston then turned his attention to another key aspect of the design: storage.

“No specific tasks were required of the storage, [and no specific storage functions or options were requested by the clients] in this design,” recalls the designer, adding that, of course, “good functionality and efficient layout are always incorporated into our designs.”

“[However], because this kitchen is quite spacious, but has very few walls on which to place cabinets,” says Livingston, he had to come up with some creative storage solutions.

Therefore, in addition to storage on the sink wall and in the island, his design also incorporated a separate butler’s pantry positioned just off the kitchen proper. It houses everything that the kitchen cannot.

In terms of function, it was also important that Livingston’s layout had enough room for more than just one cook.

“When designing a kitchen of this size, two work stations are generally required,” notes Livingston. As a result, he promptly divided the kitchen into separate food preparation, cooking and clean-up work stations.

Livingston then installed a host of appliances. The selection included a large, 48" Wolf Range, plus a pot filler that was installed in the wall behind the range.

The designer also created a refrigeration hutch/armoire using matching cabinetry. The piece cleverly conceals two 27" Sub-Zero refrigerators while maintaining the kitchen’s design aesthetic.

City of Lights

Overall, Livingston points out that “the glass doors on the wall cabinets, farm sink, barrel arched ceiling and large arched windows further embellish the style of this kitchen.”

Indeed, several large windows flood the space with natural light. Strategically placed “spot task lighting, as well as decorative chandelier lighting fixtures above the island and sink, further illuminate the space,” he concludes.