Design Duo Turns Outdated Kitchen into Modern Art

NASHVILLE, TN— Melissa M. Smith, CKD, Allied ASID, of Nashville, TN-based Hermitage Kitchen Design Gallery, knows how to add through subtraction – or better yet, “add through abstraction.”

After all, how else to describe Smith’s efforts when updating a previously plain, inefficient kitchen into a contemporary masterpiece that met her client’s entertaining needs and better showcased a modern art collection?

She explains: “The client wanted a major transformation that offered seating with a view of the television and the ability to entertain lots of people.”

In fact Smith, along with Carla Taylor, CKD (also of Hermitage), not only created a more efficient space, but added artistic elements that reflect the client’s personality and carry the contemporary theme that is featured throughout the home.

“We needed to create a space that would bring the plain, white kitchen up to speed with the client’s contemporary and artistic styling that was [featured].”

To accomplish this, the pair incorporated eye-catching colors, such as translucent shades of spicy red, and combined that aesthetic with curved shapes and unique materials, including stainless steel, glass and granite.

But, there were layout challenges that prohibited the kitchen from becoming a continuation of the home, she notes.

“A powder room stood between the client and her dream,” she explains, noting that the pre-existing powder room obstructed the flow of the kitchen and adjoining family room.

“Removing the powder room was a great solution because it [showcased] all of the fun art work and colors in the family room,” she adds.

Smith was also able to salvage the wood floor that ran between the family room and kitchen, and turned it into a unique design element as well.

“We also kept the same size tile border on all four sides of the island,” she explains.

She concludes: “This is a contemporary kitchen, but it is also warm and inviting. It fits the home and the client and even has an element of surprise, like some of the artwork that is displayed in the home.”

Powder Keg
The first step toward improving the kitchen was to eliminate the pre-existing powder room.

“The kitchen was isolated and not an entertaining space – and the powder room was a [main reason for that],” she explains.

She continues: “The powder room sat there like a big square in the middle of the two rooms. Now, you walk into an open space that flows and contributes to the overall design theme.”

But, the design pair encountered another challenge once the powder room was removed.

“We needed [to figure out] what to do with the flooring where the powder room was pulled out.”

To remedy this, Smith and Taylor used granite tiles – which matched the countertops – and cut out the wood floor to mimic the shape of the curve on the island, adding a unique design element to the kitchen.

For added efficiency, Smith and Taylor moved the Sub-Zero refrigerator and KitchenAid oven trio to opposite ends of the L shape to anchor the room.

“The refrigerator is large and the shelves are wide enough to accommodate large party platters. The oven is convection, and the microwave can be used as an oven if needed,” Smith adds. “The warming drawer is used to keep food warm without drying it out.”

She offers: “The cook can now stay in the cooking and cleaning areas without crossing paths with any of the traffic flow.”

Cabinet Compilation
There were other challenges involved, as well, Smith notes. “There was a long, monotonous row of six raised-panel doors in the kitchen that needed to be addressed,” she adds, describing them as “lined up like soldiers along one long wall.”

Her solution was to utilize maple cabinetry doors rather than basic pantry doors.

“We placed a red door in the center and placed hardware in different directions and different places on the doors,” she offers. “The pantry doors now featured a fun, symmetrical mix of colors and shapes.”

For added kick, Smith and Taylor incorporated a warm, translucent shade of spicy red on the front curved cabinets. Red doors over the oven and red-curved shelves at the end of the refrigerator add to the theme, as well. “The repetition of the vivid, spicy red, along with different textures (such as glass and granite) unifies the space without breaking the ambience and warmth,” she concludes.

Two of a Kind
Smith also designed a center island and breakfast island that serve as focal points, she notes.

“The islands addressed the gap in the flooring where the former bath stood,” she explains. For instance, the main island features curves that flow over and under from end to end, which are mimicked on the ceiling.

The front of the cooking island also houses the 36" Wolf cooktop and downdraft, as well as storage for pots and pans, she notes.

“The back of the island was made out of cabinetry with a flat-panel door, with no toe kick or hardware. We also used a touch latch to access the door. This allowed for storage without looking like cabinetry.”

A glass bar top, supported by stainless steel posts and a stainless end panel, was added as a buffer between the cooking surface and the walkway, she adds. By comparison, the breakfast island was shaped to center in the granite footprint and seat four with a view of the television.

This island also offers abstract art for end panels, while the top features a granite center panel surrounded by coordinated glass mosaic tiles.

Light of the World
Lighting was another key aspect of this design, Smith notes.

“The lighting layers were task under-cabinet lighting provided by Xenon lighting fixtures, hidden by a light rail on the leading edge of the cabinetry,” she says. Ambient lighting was provided by recessed down lighting sources using halogen lamps to provide “crisp or inviting warm color temperatures when dimmed,” she points out. Smith adds: “MR16 low-voltage lamps were also used in pinhole trims to accent the raised, frosted glass element of the island.”

She concludes: “2000 Degrees cased glass pendants were placed over the eating area to complete the lighting scheme while inviting the owner to enjoy a quiet repose at home.”