FAIRFIELD, CT —
With any kitchen or bath client, it’s crucial to be able to understand his/her needs and wants for the space in question. And, it’s even better if a kitchen and bath designer can truly get inside the client’s head.
That’s exactly what one kitchen designer from Shore and Country Kitchens in Fairfield, CT did in order to recreate this kitchen. Bob Blanco was able to get inside his client’s mind and see with his client’s eyes because, in fact, he was his own client!
Blanco assessed his own kitchen and saw a layout that was very functional but old. Plus, because his home is a typical 1950s Cape Cod, the kitchen was small, measuring only 10'x 11'. So the primary need became more space.
“I entertain frequently and wanted space for my guests to relax, while I felt that I was not removed from them,” explains Blanco.
“As is the trend in kitchens today, I wanted to have a small family room off of the kitchen, as well as a breakfast table,” he adds.
In order to incorporate the proper amount of space needed to accommodate his needs, Blanco knew he not only had to remodel the space, but add to it. “The new addition added approximately 300 sq. ft. to the kitchen, allowing space for a small family room and breakfast area,” he notes.
Blanco’s plans called for opening up the kitchen and adding oversized windows plus two sets of French doors to flood the room with light. The back wall is now almost all glass. It [frames] the gardens and the new patio [and] white pergola, which adds to the visual interest. In fact, he says, all three walls of the family room and breakfast area are glass.
“The windows flanking the French doors are taller and [sit] only 14" off the floor. The side door is also a glass French door,” explains Blanco. “The use of extensive windows and doors gave the kitchen a very open feeling.”
A peninsula defines the space between the family room and kitchen. A small table and chairs for breakfast sit at the end of the long galley kitchen. “When you walk into the kitchen the eye is drawn to this area and to the oversized windows and French doors,” he adds.
In terms of function, Blanco’s plans also called for one wall of this now large galley kitchen to be dedicated to cooking. The other is more of a prep area. “The cooking wall contains a six-burner Viking cooktop in the peninsula with a downdraft Viking vent system,” he describes.
Blanco also installed a Bosch double oven to help with entertaining. A Bosch dishwasher and GE Profile refrigerator complete the appliance selection.
The small, old kitchen sink was replaced by a very large 33" Blanco Precision sink and an Italian Newform faucet.
The lighting consists of 4" recessed spots, with directional spots for artwork in the sitting room. Over the breakfast table is a wood pendant lamp. “This style of lamp is reminiscent of the circa-1971 Le Klint pendant light,” Blanco points out.
MOD & MINIMAL
The lamp is a good indicator of the design aesthetic Blanco created for his kitchen. The rest of the house is furnished in a Mid-Century Modern style, so Blanco wanted to create a look that was clean and sleek so that the kitchen would mesh seamlessly with the overall design.
He describes the overall kitchen style as “minimalist, contemporary. The overall look I desired was that of Italian contemporary kitchens. There are no curved lines anywhere – even down to the zero-radius, commercial-style sink. The goal was to create a space that was very simple, masculine, and comfortable.”
The cabinetry is also very simple, with very clean lines. He used Wood-Mode’s Brookhaven semi-custom cabinetry in a dark Candlelight finish on maple wood. A bank of wall cabinets have corduroy glass doors to open up the space. Below them, a custom-made, 2"-thick, floating shelf sits suspended from the wall.
“The cooking wall, which has the glass cabinets and floating shelf, is painted a bright Chili Pepper red from Benjamin Moore to highlight the countertops and glass cabinets,” he adds.
Blanco also incorporated numerous storage features into the cabinets, including large drawers for pots and pans, serving bowls and other cookware that flank the cooktop, plus a roll-out shelf pantry on the opposite wall for dry food.
Blanco believes that, out of all of the elements he designed, the most unique feature is the custom concrete countertops that were fabricated by Concrete Encounter in Fairfield, CT.
“Jeff Kuryluk from Concrete Encounter and I worked together on creating just the right color and design,” explains Blanco. “I already had selected the cabinet color, [as well as] the custom, handmade Erin Adams Quilt backsplash tile by Ann Sacks – which has a textured, retro 1950s look reminiscent of marbles, with colors of chocolate, ivory, pale grey and black. We tried several different samples to come up with just the right counter color to blend with the splash and the cabinets. Instead of a traditional straight seam, Jeff designed all of the seams to interlock, so the seams of the different sections created a puzzle effect. This was especially important because I wanted to use the zero-radius sink. He suggested interlocking seams to get that sharp corner.”
He continues: “I also wanted to embed something decorative into the countertops. We tried a few different things, and then Jeff suggested embedding the backsplash tile into the sides of the knee wall cap above the cooking area. The overall result is a fantastic countertop that is always the first thing on which everyone comments.”
Xenon undercabinet lighting “gives an overall wash of light to the backsplash and counters,” he concludes.