WINTER PARK, FL - While most designers seek to avoid design "dead ends," Karen R. Kassik, CPBD, AIBD and James C. Lucia, CPBD, FAIBD, turn them into design inspiration.
In fact, this was precisely the case when the pair were asked to reconfigure a narrow, inefficient space into one that would accommodate the client's entertaining needs.
Lucia is the founding partner/designer for Winter Park, FL-based Lucia, Kassik & Monday, Inc., and Kassik is the managing partner/designer for the firm.They were commissioned by Orlando, FL-based Farina and Sons, Inc., and worked with Gribble Interior Group, also based in Orlando.
When Kassik and Lucia began the project, they learned that the area they were to transform was dubbed "the dead-end of the home." And it was. In fact, according to Victor Farina, president/owner of Farina and Sons, Inc., the only way for all parties involved to remedy the situation was to start from scratch.
"[Indeed], the mother felt very isolated and 'closed off' in the old kitchen - it had no view, nor could she see or hear anything or keep track of the children," recalls Farina. "The mom wanted a new kitchen that had a kitchen bar area for the three children and was open to the family room. She also wanted lots of storage," recalls Farina.
The design for the new space devised by Kassik and Lucia, et al, gave the mom the new space and accoutrements she desired. In addition, the new layout called for an eat-in kitchen area and increased counter space.
"[In fact], one of the keys to this design was combining matching elements visually to increase the size of the room," states Farina.
Kassik and Lucia began their plan by gutting the existing kitchen. However, to complete this, a wall between the kitchen and family room had to be replaced with a structural beam.
Farina feels this solution allowed the duo to transform a dingy kitchen into the "heart of the home," by combining the kitchen with the family room, and thereby creating a cohesive feel for the entire home. This also earned the project recognition from The American Institute of Building Design (AIBD), Farina points out.
This solution gave the kitchen a more spacious feel, and allowed enough room to add a walk-in pantry without impacting the size of the 19'x11' space.
With the space opened up, "from that point forward, we [then could work toward creating] a kitchen that mom could function in while serving the children at the kitchen bar," relates Farina.
Ironically, though, with so much new-found space, the design team found itself faced with another design detour: A standard upper-cabinet design was not applicable.
"The cabinetry could not be placed above the countertops, or above the open areas," reports Farina, as it would interfere with the new open layout.
Therefore, the duo came up with the unique solution of primarily using lower-level, custom, maple-stained, woodgrain cabinets in a chocolate glaze with brushed nickel hardware from Top Knobs.
More specifically, the design team's solution included several drawers for dish storage, as well as vertical storage areas.
To that end, the dish drawers were strategically placed into the kitchen proper, while vertical storage was extended to the adjoining family room for games, videos and winter throws.
"The dish cabinets are deep, roll-out cabinets that fit under the counter. The owner finds this very convenient, as she does not have to lift heavy dishes above the countertops," he explains.
Narrow cabinets were also placed around the refrigerator to provide secondary pantry space.
The cabinetry installed in the kitchen and family room "gives the owner much-needed storage," while integrating the design of the two rooms, reports Farina.
Once that design dilemma was solved, the Kassik and Lucia tackled the rest of the storage dilemmas. "[Indeed, dealing with] such a small area - void of virtually any storage - provided quite a challenge," he remarks.
To further accommodate the client's storage needs, an 8' granite bar with customized cabinetry was installed. It serves as the main station for the children to do their homework. Narrow cabinets were installed below the bar to house the children's school supplies, he adds.
"There are two pull-out trash drawers in the kitchen, as well," he says. "One is between the sink and the dishwasher, and the other is on the bar for use by the children."
Farina adds: "[Again], creating special areas to include her children in the kitchen was very important to the homeowner."
In fact, these special children's areas were able to improve safety in the kitchen, since previously the client's seven-year-old son would use a chair to climb onto the countertop to get dishes or a glass, he says, noting: "Now, she does not have to worry about this potential disaster."
More storage in the form of a vertical cabinet was added to the garage door, which serves as a docking station for purses, mail and cell phones.
"This kept the kitchen bar free of clutter," he says, adding, "and the client got her wish of [a built-in desk in the same area] with drawers to collect keys and miscellaneous things that tend to accumulate."
Overall, the kitchen size stayed the same, but with all of the storage solutions Kassik and Lucia installed it felt bigger. In fact, "the owner felt she had received an overabundance of storage," indicates Farina.
To tie the traditional look of the kitchen together, and more functional punch, Kassik and Lucia selected a variety of GE Monogram and Profile products, including a dishwasher, a 42", side-by-side refrigerator, a double oven with convection and a cooktop.
"The dishwasher and refrigerator were fitted for wood frames with matching cabinetry," Farina describes. "This provided a more elegant view from the attached formal dining room."
Complementing the appliances are granite countertops and a decorative slate backsplash, which not only lend a cohesive feel to the space, but are easy to clean and maintain, Farina adds.
Completing the look are 18"x18" oversized tiles, which feature a "stone-like" appearance, adds Farina.
Spotlight on Style
Lighting plays a key role in the design, as well, Farina notes.
In particular, overhead lighting was placed over the seating areas to aid the children during school projects. For specific tasks, the pair chose undercabinet lighting and Tiffany-style bar lights.
"The lights could become very bright for tasks, yet create a very romantic, aesthetically pleasing mood when dimmed," Farina adds.
A window was also added above the oven and microwave to provide plenty of natural light.
Combined, all of the lighting helps to give the space a more airy, updated look.