Kitchen Remodel Strikes Just the Right Design Balance

HOLMDEL, NJ Having too much space can be as much of challenge as having too little space. Indeed, bigger isn't always better, as in the case of this kitchen remodel.

According to Michelle Warnken, owner/designer of Michelle Warnken Designs Inc. in Long Branch, NJ, "The sheer size of the room was the biggest challenge of all. The original space was 13.4'x23.75', which was expanded to 25.6'x23.75'. It included the remodeling and lengthening of the kitchen and an addition that pushed out the back of the house. The new space also had to accommodate a larger laundry room, three-quarter bath, office and break-fast area."

Warnken was tapped to take on this remodel/addition project by the homeowners, a young couple with two pre-adolescent children. She worked primarily with the wife, since she was the one who ran the household and did most of the cooking.

The sole designer on the project, Warnken was able to give the wife everything she wanted from all new, rather large professional-style appliances right down to the details on the Yorktowne semi-custom cabinetry because of the size of the room. However, she says, it was not easy, despite the great amount of space.

"In a large space, you worry about how you fill it all and still make it look good and feel cozy," relates Warnken, who saw her first opportunity to do this in the wife's appliance request.


Hence, her plan began with the appliances, which not only provided the function the wife was seeking, but also helped to fill the space nicely.

To that end, she first installed a 48" gas Viking range with six burners and a griddle. A custom mantel hood with a Best by Broan blower unit sits atop, creating a functional focal point.

To the left, she placed a 48" Sub-Zero refrigerator. To the right, on the next wall, she placed a Miele dishwasher next to the main, double-bowl Blanco sink and Rohl faucet.

Warnken did install a microwave, but since the wife was not a big microwave user, she tucked it away in the island opposite the refrigerator and range. Next to it, she hid a Viking warming drawer.

Warnken also reworked the kitchen's original bar area to include a Viking bar refrigerator and U-Line Corp. icemaker.


With a place for all of the many appliances set, Warnken addressed the next challenge: cabinetry placement and detail.

The size of the new kitchen allowed Warnken to easily include a huge amount of cabinetry, from the reworked bar area and new pantry area to a multi-functional island. The island was large enough to accommodate four bar stools and a tall hutch to the left of the refrigerator, which hid a Sharp flat-screen TV, toaster and other small appliances behind pocket doors.

But despite that, Warnken had the problem of Goldie Locks getting the look, feel, size and amount of cabinetry just right.

"The wife was looking for a nice, classic, elegant traditional look, like the rest of the home, but with more detail. She really liked detail," notes Warnken.

So the designer began by choosing Yorktowne's Hallmark style on cherry with a Butternut finish and Mocha Glaze for the main cabinetry and complemented that with Yorktowne's Catalina style on maple with an antique white stain with an ebony stain on top that was distressed for the island. She packed all of the cabinetry with storage that fits the point of use, such as tilt-out storage trays at the sink bases.

Warnken then adorned the cabinetry with just the right amount of detail. For instance, she strategically used beaded columns flanked at top and bottom by capitals (wood plinth blocks) to highlight the cabinet that sits below the main sink and to punctuate either side of the range.

A base cabinet with two large drawers in the pantry area also received the same column treatment. To that, Warnken added a lattice-work wine rack and short wall cabinet above the base cabinet. This acts as a light bridge between two taller pantry units, both of which have wall cabinets on top of them to complete the area.

On the other side of a doorway leading into the kitchen, and on the same wall as the pantry area, is the bar area. Here, she applied the same type of columns to the cabinet that sits below another Blanco sink and Rohl faucet. Above that, she lowered the middle four wall cabinets and inserted Architectural Glass Effects glass panels to add more detail and differentiate the bar area.

"The wife also wanted a bulky crown. So I created one from three simple pieces, with no other detailing. It's a beefier crown than just a single one," reports Warnken, who also considered adding rope molding to the cabinetry design, but ultimately decided against doing so. "I felt it was just a little too much."

However, Warnken did include some large corbels that the wife loved. And, while she was able to obtain all of the other cabinetry detailing through Yorktowne, she purchased the corbels from Outwater Plastics Industries Inc., and had them finished to match the cabinetry.

Matching cabinetry panels on the dishwasher and refrigerator finish the cabinetry design.

Jet Mist honed granite with ogee edges tops the island, while Golden Butterfly granite tops the rest of the cabinetry. The backsplash features Chiaro tumbled marble. The floor consists of four different tile sizes 16"x24", 16"x16", 8"x16" and 8"x8" for a random effect.

A round Blanco prep sink and Rohl faucet graces the island, while the aforementioned Blanco bar sink that features a Rohl faucet completes the bar area.

Three decorative pendants over the island, Linear Xenon undercabinet lighting from Sea Gull Lighting Products, Inc. and several strategically placed recessed high hats illuminate the space and finish Warnken's design.