Angular Kitchen Redesign Maximizes Space & Function
By Barbara Capella Loehr
And, sometimes, transforming a space in this case, a 1970s-era kitchen with an imposing peninsula and some major traffic-flow problems needs not only a new angle to give it a new lease on life, but also the help of an experienced kitchen designer.
Enter Alan Asarnow, CMKBD, CR, of Ridgewood, NJ-based Ulrich, Inc., who helped to revitalize a tired and less-than-functional kitchen, despite space constraints and a host of functional problems.
Upon a recommendation from the homeowners' interior designer, Asarnow was tapped as the sole kitchen designer on this project. He was faced with the task of breathing new life into this aging kitchen, and fixing its problematic design.
"[The homeowners] needed a room that solved the traffic-flow
problem, that expanded the space without adding an addition and
that made the space brighter and more amenable for family and
guests," explains Asarnow. "Those were the primary problems that I
needed to address. There were also functional issues, plus the
husband wanted a warm, contemporary design."
Indeed, the kitchen in this 1970s contemporary home was in need of "significant revitalization," says Asarnow. Not only were the cabinetry, appliances and countertops dated and falling into disrepair, he explains, but the original architect's design had also proven to be poorly functioning many years later.
The homeowners an older, upscale couple with four grown children and many grandchildren that often come to visit requested a complete redesign. They wanted to both update the appearance of the kitchen and provide significantly increased functionality that would rekindle the family's enjoyment of the space, notes Asarnow.
In particular, the husband a family-oriented man with a busy schedule as "the primary caregiver" of the household and as the "not-quite-retired" CEO of a "major" brokerage firm was keenly interested in maximizing the existing space. While cost was not an issue, getting more "bang for the buck" was, since he was also remodeling and updating the rest of the home. The, the final budget of $140,000 was to encompass costs for "the kitchen, the kitchen elements, a bath remodel, [which lent more space to the kitchen], and all structural work," Asarnow notes.
The kitchen adjoins a sitting room and breakfast room, and is situated immediately adjacent to the front entrance to the home. The existing plan was L-shaped with an island; however, the peninsula leg, with both upper and lower cabinets, established a barrier to the sitting room, and resulted in the kitchen being thrust into darkness, thus requiring the nearly constant use of artificial lighting.
The location of the breakfast room in relation to the kitchen workspace resulted in an indirect passage from the entrance hallway through the kitchen to the breakfast room.
Asarnow assessed the situation, and devised a plan for the new kitchen that not only redirected traffic flow, but also increased functionality and natural light.
The new layout used angles to solved an aesthetic problem, as well. The ranch-style house revealed a view that spanned nearly the entire length of the house, stretching from the bedroom wing through the front entrance and the kitchen to the garage entry. The long expanse represented a length of more than 50 feet, something which Asarnow termed, "a bowling alley effect." It was alleviated by the angles in the design.
The new layout called first for the removal of the clunky, 14' peninsula. By doing this, Asarnow reclaimed two feet of space, adding to the 36 square feet his overall design managed to squeeze out of the existing floorplan.
Asarnow's decision to discard the peninsula further allowed all of the natural light from the back of the house to finally shine through unobstructed.
The natural light was complemented by the installation of undercabinet task lighting; several strategically placed halogen puck lights; recessed, low-voltage halogen lights that swivel 360° for general lighting; and low-voltage pendant lights that were chosen by Ardia and hang above the breakfast table and the island.
Next, Asarnow placed the pantry/refrigerator run of custom cherry cabinetry at an angle in order to direct foot traffic through the kitchen to the revised breakfast room. By turning the kitchen layout on an angle, Asarnow was able to maximize the existing space and accommodate large parties and caterers just as easily as one cook and an intimate family gathering. The new angle also inspired Asarnow to incorporate more angles throughout the design, which helped foster a contemporary look that was anchored by flat-panel cabinet doors and tubular stainless-steel-look hardware.
To soften the contemporary look, Asarnow worked painstakingly
with the cabinetmaker, Somerville, NJ-based Royal Kitchens, Inc.,
to ensure the flow of the grain on the custom cabinetry's cherry
veneers matched vertically and horizontally.
"It became a unifying effect, and allowed the cabinetry to appear softer," notes Asarnow.
The upper cabinets hold dishes, while the lower cabinets hold
pots and pans; all are finished in a rich Copper Matte color.
Asarnow replicated the angle of the cabinetry on the two-tiered island he installed to serve as a prep/clean-up area, a gathering area for social occasions and a general everyday snack area.
"I [also] used the island to direct traffic from the entrance to breakfast room," explains Asarnow. "That's how the trapezoidal shape of the island was created."
The island features a Franke sink and faucet, as well as storage space for utensils, flatware, recycling and clean-up, and a second tier for guests that conceals the work area and offers space for outlets and switches.
To further maximize space, Asarnow reconfigured some walls and
reclaimed some square footage from an unused, adjacent full
bathroom. In that new space, he carved a recessed niche for the
homeowners' desk, as well as installed some built-in cabinetry that
acts as a china cabinet/hutch.
To create a visual center for the space, Asarnow made a focal point out of the professional-style, stainless steel DACOR range that sits directly across from the island.
To draw attention to the range, he concealed the other appliances which include a Miele dishwasher and two Sub-Zero refrigerator/ freezers behind cabinetry and installed a stainless steel Best by Broan range hood and backsplash behind the range. This created a striking "vertical, stainless steel column," he notes.
Two Sub-Zero units were essential, notes Asarnow, as the homeowners throw several large parties a year, and need the second unit to store food for those parties.
Asarnow topped both the island and the perimeter cabinetry with Zodiaq engineered-stone countertops, which were chosen based on the husband's strong to desire to have the look of natural stone without the maintenance.
Lastly, the textural tiles for the backsplash and for the floor that complete the kitchen design were selected by Ardia to blend with the rest of the home, and to accentuate the kitchen design, says Asarnow. The floor tiles were selected for their look and low-maintenance qualities, he concludes.
- The primary problems designer Alan Asarnow, CMKBD, CR, needed
to address were solving the 1970s-era kitchen's traffic-flow
problem, expanding the space without tacking on an addition and
making the space brighter and more user friendly for family and
guests. There were also functional issues, says Asarnow, plus the
husband wanted a warm, contemporary design.
- The new layout called first for the removal of the clunky, 14'
peninsula. By doing this, Asarnow reclaimed two feet of space,
adding to the 36 square feet his overall design managed to squeeze
out of the existing floorplan. Removing the peninsula also allowed
all of the natural light from the back of the house to shine
- Asarnow placed the pantry/refrigerator run of custom cherry
cabinetry at an angle in order to direct foot traffic through the
kitchen to the revised breakfast room. He replicated the angle of
the cabinetry on the two-tiered, trapezoidally shaped island to
further redirect traffic flow. The angular cabinetry reinforces the
contemporary design, while the cherry wood lends warmth to the
- Asarnow made a focal out of the professional-style, stainless
steel DACOR range that sits directly across from the island by
concealing the other appliances behind cabinetry and installing a
stainless steel Best by Broan range hood and backsplash behind the
range, creating "a vertical, stainless steel column."
- Two Sub-Zero units were essential, notes Asarnow, as the
homeowners throw several large parties a year, and need the second
Sub-Zero to store food for those parties.
- Products include: Cherry cabinetry from Somerville, NJ-based Royal Kitchen, Inc. in the company's Nassau door style and Copper Matte finish; Zodiaq (engineered stone) 3cm countertops in Alpha Brown with a reverse bevel edge; two Sub-Zero 700TC refrigerator/freezers; DACOR ERD485 range; Best by Broan K2948SS range hood; Miele G863SCVi dishwasher; Franke PRX120 sink, FF300 faucet and LB200 water filter/instant hot water system; and ISE Pro17 disposer.