Natural Kitchen Becomes Hearth of the Home

Natural Kitchen Becomes Hearth of the Home

By John Filippelli

The use of natural materials to create a warm and inviting kitchen was the goal of the design team of Robert Lidsky of Wyckoff, NJ-based The Hammer & Nail, Inc.; Diane Boyer, ASID, of Verona, NJ based Diane Boyer Interiors, Div. of Bill Behrle Associates; architect Jeff Beer of Warren, NJ-based Beer & Coleman Architects, and construction manager Ken Beer of Pluckemin, NJ-based States Management Corp. Limestone, hand-carved Mexican stone, wrought-iron and distressed cherry cabinetry all added their own distinctive influences to the design.

Appliance style

Also unusual in the construction of the hearth is the floor-to-ceiling design, notes Lidsky. "Usually, the hearth rests on the counter above cabinets, so it looks top heavy," he remarks.

Working with the floor-to-ceiling style, the design team created a sizeable space that would encompass the range comfortably while allotting for counter space. The space allows for the range, plus 12" of counter area on each side of the unit.

"If you just placed the range by itself in an enclosure that went down to the floor, you would have no counter left or right," he explains. "This is a 93"-wide enclosure, which provides ample counter space."

The valance of the range hood picks up the iron scroll motif that is featured on the gates that lead from the kitchen to the conservatory.

Most of the other appliances are also stainless steel, acting as reflectors of the surroundings. The Elan wall oven, located in the corner of the layout, gets the bulk of the cabinets out of the way and allows the range hearth to remain the focal point.

"We didn't want the appliances to dominate," explains Lidsky. "We wanted the range structure and the other focal points to make the statement."

Another focal point in the room the Sub-Zero 700 Series TR/TF refrigerator and freezer is located directly across from the hearth. Centered underneath two heavy ceiling beams, the units are hidden behind cobbled cherry panel doors with a washed, sponged finish darkened with glaze, designed to mimic the heavy, framed entry doors that are popular in medieval castles in southern Europe. Small, recessed panels are featured on the doors, as are rusted iron clavos hand-forged steel medallions at the intersections of the small panels to enhance the worn, distressed look. All of the hardware on the refrigerator is a rusted iron look. The Old-World illusion of the space is heightened by setting these units into a plastered arch.

"It appears that a person could open these doors and walk through them into another space, but, in fact, they disguise the refrigerator," reports Lidsky. "Only the drawer handles and the division between the panels give any clue as to where the door leads."

The area in front of the refrigerator and freezer provides ample room for passage, even when the door is open. "This is a sensible visual versus functional compromise," Lidsky adds.

Cabinetry collection
Because the design space occupies a portion of a larger area that encompasses the family, breakfast, conservatory and china storage rooms, the design team was cognizant that the kitchen blend with other rooms in the house.

Therefore, the cabinetry serves as both an aesthetic enhancement to the overall design and as functional storage space. "The cabinets are a part of the overall room design concept, not just a cabinet statement," Lidsky says.

The design team integrated solid cherry custom cabinetry, which adds a cohesive flow to the Medieval-style space. Much of the cabinetry was painted a rich, deep yellow, which was then partially hand-sanded to simulate wear. It was then finished with a low-luster, dark brown glaze, making it a strong complement to the natural materials throughout, Lidsky notes.

In contrast, the cherry on the island has been cobbled to a rustic, Medieval look and then darkened with glaze, similar to the finish that is found on the refrigerator/ freezer doors. Designed to be another focal point in the room, the island features a soapstone countertop, as well as a Whitehaus stainless steel sink.

Functionally, the niche portion of the island separates the kitchen from the breakfast area and family room while creating a seating area for guests to converse with the cook. "It is a social kitchen," Lidsky asserts.

The island also serves as a bar sink area, taking advantage of the view of a lake and golf course.

The glazed cabinets flank both the range and the refrigerator, and line the walls around the room. Topping them off are limestone countertops that reflect the same earthy yellow color.
Very old tiles in a similar yellow hue are featured, as are walls and ceilings that are sponged stucco. Cobble oak beams on the ceiling, found at local antique barns, blend seamlessly with the Mediterranean tile and Enkeboll corbels and pick up the color used on the island and refrigerator/freezer doors.

The ironwork throughout the room, which complements the Mediterranean design theme, was hand crafted in Portugal. The light fixtures and cabinet pulls feature an all-rusted iron aesthetic.

project highlights

  • This kitchen, designed by Robert Lidsky of Wyckoff, NJ-based The Hammer & Nail, Inc., Diane Boyer, ASID, of Verona, NJ-based Diane Boyer Interiors, Div. of Bill Behrle Associates, architect Jeff Beer of Warren, NJ-based Beer & Coleman Architects and construction manager Ken Beer of Pluckemin, NJ-based States Management Corp., features a variety of natural materials to create a warm, earthy and inviting space.
  • A focal point is the hand-carved Mexican stone hearth, which was inspired by a fireplace that the homeowners had seen in a castle in Spain. The hearth houses a 48" DCS range and features an unusual floor-to-ceiling design to accommodate the structure's large size while offering counter space.
  • The Sub-Zero 700 Series TR/TF was disguised by the design team with cobbled cherry panels and rusted iron clavos for a worn, distressed look. Designed to emulate the heavy entry doors in European Medieval structures, the units were set into a plastered arch to further enhance the illusion.
  • Limestone countertops were chosen to offer the same earthy, yellow color that is picked up in the tile and glazed cabinetry, while the dark, distressed finish on the island complements the antique, dark-colored beams on the ceiling.
  • Cherry custom cabinetry adds to the earthy feel of the Medieval-style kitchen, according to Lidsky. The cherry cabinetry was hand-sanded to create a distressed, worn look, and offers a cohesive and natural flow to the space.
  • Kitchen Products include: Sub-Zero 700 Series TR/TF units; Elan wall oven; DCS 48" range; custom cherry cabinetry; limestone and soapstone