Award-Winning Kitchen

CENTENNIAL, CO — Doug Walter, AIA and Sharon Thomas really worked all of the angles in this kitchen remodel – literally. The design duo took a cramped, outdated kitchen and turned the entire layout 45° to create an angular kitchen. The result is a more open, modern, multiple-cook kitchen that features a large triangular bay that frames a stunning mountain view and serves as the primary prep area.

In fact, the angular kitchen transformation garnered two awards for Walter – who owns Doug Walter Architects in Englewood, CO, and Thomas – who designs for Builders Kitchen Center LLC, also in Englewood. Champion Construction was the contractor on the job. Marn Heggen, a project intern for Doug Walter Architects, also worked on the remodel.

“We entered this project in several local and national contests because it is such a striking before and after,” recalls Walter. “We felt the unusual angled geometry and bold use of color would help it show well against the competition”

Indeed, the kitchen won for Best Kitchen over $75,000 in this year’s Chrysalis design competition, which has been honoring remodeling projects across the U.S. since 1993. The competition is open to remodeling contractors, architects, builders, developers, planners, kitchen and bath specialists and other remodeling professionals. This year’s contest drew 585 entries, which were judged by editors from Southern Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Womans’ Day Special Interest Publications, HGTV Pro and Sunset magazine.

“The projects are judged on design, use of materials, use of space and integration into the existing space,” according to Chrysalis organizers.

The design also took first place in the Luxury Kitchen category of the 2005 Colorado Awards for Remodeling Excellence (CARE), which is sponsored by the Remodelors Council of the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Metro Denver. This program annually recognizes excellence in design and construction of residential and light commercial remodeling and renovation projects. Fifty-five entries were judged by a panel that included a builder, interior designer and newspaper editor on “the strength of design ideas, aesthetic and market appeal, sensitivity to existing structure, appropriate use of existing building elements, compatibility with the neighborhood and functional value and cost effectiveness,” according to the HBA.

It was this kitchen’s sharp angles that looked pretty “sharp” to the judges of CARE, who touted its redesigned function, confident color choices and exterior impact of the new sink area. As one judge summed up the design: “It was a clear winner because of the very strong transformation [and] creative solution with quality execution and materials.”

Creativity Quotient
Indeed, Walter and Thomas needed a creative solution to incorporate all that the owners wanted.

“The owners are avid cooks; in fact, they’re part of a gourmet club and take classes whenever possible,” describes Walter. “Thus, they wanted to update their entire kitchen so that they could cook and bake in it simultaneously without getting in each other’s way. They also wanted something really special in terms of style and layout.”

Walter was certainly challenged to rethink the current kitchen, but he soon found a solution by looking toward the other end of the couple’s home.

“My architectural firm had remodeled the rest of the home about eight years ago, taking a very rectilinear, boring ranch plan and introducing a 45° angle to it with three triangular additions. So, it was a natural choice to incorporate angles into the kitchen,” notes Walter. “In this case we turned the grid 45°. The kitchen grew in size from the small triangular addition, and by capturing part of the space from a redundant powder room. But the effect is of a far larger space than its 100 square feet, partly due to the light color palette and partly because of the soaring vaulted ceiling in the sink area that floods the kitchen with daylight.” The new floorplan also improved the traffic flow.

“The door into the dining room was eliminated in favor of a wide pass-through, equipped with art-glass folding doors on the dining side. An inviting wide walkway, lined with display cabinets, now links the breakfast room and living room. The breakfast room’s greenhouse window became French doors with sidelights from Pella, which are all triple-glazed, double low E for heat control. In front of the sidelights we designed custom built-ins to show off the clients’ antique glass collection,” explains Walter. “Right outside these doors is a new triangular bump in the deck for outdoor eating, with new stairs leading down to the yard. Finally, the garage door was relocated to allow for a larger pantry.”

Modern Perspective
Once the angles were all configured and the space was opened up, Walter and Thomas turned their attention to creating a light and contemporary style.

The clients requested a low-maintenance, flat-slab door, so the duo installed Crystal Cabinet Works’ Redondo Chamfered, flat-slab, grain-matched door style with a clear alder veneer in a natural finish and an 1/8" chamfered, solid-wood edge.

The cabinet pulls were deliberately oversized to be virtually continuous. “There are five lengths used, depending on the dimension of the door or drawer for which it was intended,” notes Walter.

Color was also confidently used, notes Walter. Red, orange, black, brown and green were blended in the glass tile backsplash behind the secondary cook center, which features a Wolf 15" Integrated cooktop. “Random-colored cork tiles in the brown field floor tile to repeat colors in the glass tile were also installed,” says Walter.

Purple, gold and green low-voltage pendants add color and sparkle to the space, as well.

Two colors of granite were also combined in the kitchen. “The countertops are Kashmir White granite on the perimeter cabinets, and Labrador Antique on the island,” elaborates Walter.

Storage was also a key issue. “The clients have a late-career marriage, combining households both with substantial inherited housewares that required storage and accessibility for special occasions,” explains Thomas.

The solution was to create a substantial pantry area that allows the fine china and glassware to be carefully washed and stored safely away from prep tools, pots and pans.

“The old walk-in pantry went away altogether, as well as the back hall area, which had a powder room, a laundry sink and some cabinets that were more intensely outfitted for storage and work. It paved the way for the new pantry, which was equipped with floor-to-ceiling cabinets, a Kindred KSS2U sink with a Hansgrohe Axor 35807801 faucet and an existing Bosch dishwasher,” explains Walter. “The false ceiling was also removed, which allowed us to raise the ceiling height to 8', and allowed us to use 42"-high uppers everywhere.”

The main Kindred KSDC2U sink was positioned in the triangular bay that also features triple-glazed Pella windows. “The sink got the place of honor in the bay, with its sweeping 180° view of the mountains,” says Walter. It has a Hansgrohe Axor 35807801 faucet, an In-Sink-Erator HC1100 Instant Hot water dispenser and In-Sink-Erator Pro 77 disposal.

To mirror the angle of the sink area, Walter and Thomas “bent” the island into the angled sink bay. Doing so provided ample seating for family and friends who visit often to observe the master chefs at work. The Wolf 36" gas rangetop and Vent-a-Hood PYDH18 overhead hood sit at the end of the island facing out toward guests and close to the sink and GE monogram 36" built-in bottom freezer refrigerator.

“Both of the clients cook, so they needed several separate cooking stations,” says Thomas. As a result she and Walter allotted space for a baking center, secondary cooking elements and warming drawer to the left of dining room pass-through, a wet bar with dish drawer and wine storage to the right of the pass-through for him, and the traditional cooktop, sink and refrigerator for her. The separate work centers “provide good and uncontentious traffic flow during preparation and serving,” remarks Thomas.

Wolf 30" double ovens, a Wolf WD30 warming drawer, a Sharp R530ES microwave, a GE Monogram ZDIS15CSS automatic icemaker, a Fisher & Paykel dishdrawer dishwasher, and a Sub Zero 700BR wine refrigerator complete the appliance roster.

A combination of halogen recessed cans and undercabinet lights, and the aforementioned pendants, illuminate the kitchen and finish the design.