Integrated Kitchen Design Facilitates Entertaining

Integrated Kitchen Design Facilitates Entertaining

by Janice Anne Costa

When your clients are named "the Butlers," you have to expect that entertaining might be a priority. So when designer Gary White, CID, CKD, CBD, of the Newport Beach, CA-based Kitchen & Bath Design, was asked to redesign his clients' kitchen to make it more cook- and entertainment-friendly, he knew just where to start.

"Hip contemporary" was the design aesthetic the clients were looking for, and White's selection of materials, colors and shapes reflected this theme, from the uniquely shaped island to the contemporary-styled Hallmark cabinets with black channels and custom crown moldings.

Entertaining large groups of people was a priority for the clients, but they also requested a design that would allow for informal entertaining that centered around the kitchen. Since the husband enjoyed cooking, and liked to be able to chat with guests while preparing meals, the clients needed a layout that would facilitate a more open traffic flow in the kitchen.

The original kitchen was separated from the family room by a breakfast room, creating three separate walled environments, according to White. "Our design called for the removal of all these walls separating the spaces, to create one integrated environment for cooking, eating, living and partying."

To separate the kitchen from the family room, White installed what he jokingly dubbed "the Stealth Island," so named because of its odd shape, which he says is "reminiscent of a bomber." 

In addition to adding visual interest, the island acts as "a combination dining table, home office, serving station, butler's pantry, bar and party central," he notes.

The island contains two doorless cabinets designed to showcase the clients' wine collection. In addition, a Marvel refrigerated wine cabinet keeps wine readily accessible for entertaining.

This area also provides storage space for serving utensils, as well as two "stay-hot" ovens for guests 
to help themselves. This allows the clients to more easily prepare and serve separate dishes, such as vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare essential to one who likes to entertain a wide variety of guests.

The island's two-level design not only provides aesthetic appeal, but also conceals the necessary tools to make the island functional as a home office. However, when the clients want to entertain, the phone and other office items can be readily concealed under the upper wing, out of sight of guests, White notes.

White believes that the new, more open layout was key to this design's success, providing an easy traffic flow that enhances entertaining, for groups both large and small. "The walls between the dining area and family room were removed, and the entry was reworked so that the kitchen transitions to the family room and entry at an angle, facilitating passage and inviting guests inside," he explains.

To make a dramatic visual statement in the kitchen, the commercial-style Viking range was placed at "center stage," surrounded by Hallmark open-base cabinets with Omega door style in Wilsonart Fusion Maple. The contemporary-styled cabinets feature black channels and a custom molding with black stripes, for added visual appeal, while the black interiors set off the custom stainless steel roll-outs and the clients' collection of gourmet cookware.
In addition, four cabinets were done without doors, and feature black melamine interiors, White notes.

With the openness of the floor plan, coordination was also key. Accordingly, the audio/visual wall system was done "in a simple shaker style in natural maple hardwood, with black pulls that match the custom pulls on the refrigerator and bar cabinets," White notes. Rich granite counters and backsplash provide added elegance.

The kitchen also features a host of time-saving appliances, including a Bosch dishwasher, G.E. Microwave and Vent-A-Hood ventilating unit. 

The refrigerator, too, adds to the uniqueness of the design. White selected a Sub-Zero 532 (this was before the 600 series, White says) that "was customized to accept full cabinet fronts without backing and no reveals by exchanging parts with the then-new stainless steel model and wing cutting the doors, inserting them from the top, which then allowed for the installation of custom pulls."

The Kohler sink and Grohe faucet make for fast and easy clean up, while ceramic tile floor in the family room features a wool Berber insert.

Lighting was also paramount to the project, according to White. He explains, "The kitchen ceiling was coffered into the unused attic above and bounce-lit with the same custom made T8 Triphospher fluorescents with dimmable ballasts that are also on top of all the upper cabinets." 

In addition, he notes, mini recessed MR11 halogen lights, along with suspended low-voltage tracks and pendants, puck lights, xenon strip lights and fans, complete the complex lighting design. 

The entire lighting design is controlled with a Lutron "Grafik Eye" scene controller. As White notes, "The touch of one button changes the entire environment into one of a number of preset scenes."

The Butlers' new "great room" works perfectly in terms of meeting both their entertainment and aesthetic requirements, according to White. Best of all, this allows the Butlers to provide their guests with the kind of high quality entertainment and service that their surname might suggest.

project highlights

  • Since space for entertaining was high on the clients' wish list, designer Gary White, CID, CKD, CBD, took down the walls separating the kitchen, family room and breakfast room, creating one integrated "great room" environment which promotes easy traffic flow, and is well suited for entertaining both large parties and smaller, informal gatherings.

  • A unique, two-tiered island in the shape of a bomber not only provides visual pizazz, but also serves multiple functions, acting as a combination dining table, home office, serving station, butler's pantry, storage area, bar and central gathering area.

  • A host of high-end appliances provide time-saving convenience for cooking, storing and clean up of food and wine. The uniquely customized Sub-Zero 532 refrigerator also adds a unique element to the design.

  • The commercial-style Viking range, placed center stage, provides a visual focal point, while the surrounding Hallmark open-base cabinets with Omega door style in Wilsonart Fusion Maple add to the visual appeal. 

  • Elaborate fluorescent and halogen lighting that combines suspended low-voltage tracks and pendants, puck lights, xenon strip lights and fans, can be controlled with the touch of a button, which can change the environment into one of a number of preset scenes. 

  • Products include: Hallmark cabinetry with Omega door style in Wilsonart Fusion Maple; Sub-Zero 532 refrigerator; Vent-A-Hood ventilating hood; Viking range and warming drawers; Bosch dishwasher; G.E. Microwave; Marvel wine unit; Kohler sink; Grohe faucet; ceramic tile flooring, and granite counters and backsplash.