Aesthetically, Glass and Dangel wanted a kitchen that could be a backdrop to the living room, while being simple in form. “Basically, the upstairs is open,” Glass says, adding that the previous layout included multiple levels and a half wall that separated the breakfast/kitchen area from the living room. “We removed that wall so the kitchen became more prominent and more important.”
Tearing out the wall also gave them the ability to lower the entire kitchen floor, which gained some much-needed height from the previous 7' ceiling. “There’s still a step up into the kitchen, but we were able to lower the floor enough so the kitchen is now about 8 feet high,” she says.
They also wanted to make the space feel larger and taller aesthetically. “We wanted to make simple gestures that would have a strong aesthetic impact,” she says.
As such, the couple eliminated the upper cabinets, replacing them with commercial slatwall, which gives them a place to hang artwork and cooking accessories. Removing the upper cabinets gave them the ability to focus on “blocks” – which include the island, the sidebar and the appliances – within the space.
They also used color to create contrast. Black lower cabinets ground the island and sidebar while distinguishing them from the Thermador Masterpiece Series appliances – which include convection and steam ovens and a dishwasher as well as the refrigerator and cooktop – and light-colored Caesarstone countertops, which are turned down in an apron fashion on the island. A white oak table attached to the island provides a place for eating, sketching and socializing. Its addition helps make the island a focal point. “We spend all of our time here,” says Glass. “It’s like a magnet. When people come over, we can’t get them to sit in the living room. Everyone is at the island.”
For Morgan Keister, designing the traditional/transitional kitchen in her Paradise Valley new-construction home was about creating a space that would entice guests.
“It’s an absolute truism that guests gravitate to the kitchen,” she wrote in the design statement she submitted for the competition. “As a designer, I believe that’s because the kitchen is the energetic center – the soul – of the home. That’s a lot to ask of a room, but I love a challenge.”
Keister answered her own challenge by imagining a space where she could host family and friends who could enjoy each other’s company as she created fabulous meals. “I love to cook, and we entertain a lot,” she says, adding that even though she’s the host, she likes to be part of the action. “The party is always in the kitchen. Everyone ends up there, whether it’s helping prepare meals or just drinking a glass of wine. I love that about the space.”
Yet, she was intent on making sure guests didn’t feel obligated to help. “Guests can get very close and feel part of the preparation action,” she says. “But there is a division of space that allows them to not feel in the way, or overly compelled to offer a helping hand just to be polite.”
Part of that division is created by the 18-foot island, designed to be a kitchen credenza of sorts with furniture appeal, notes Keister. In addition to the Thermador Star Sapphire dishwasher, the kitchen features mahogany cabinetry and silver moon marble with display cabinets, a sink and seating for three. Yet its most prominent feature is the waterfall edge that flows down each end. “I like the contrast of contemporary and traditional,” notes Keister. “To warm up the contemporary space I used more traditional materials, such as the mahogany cabinets with their transitional/traditional door style and large crown. But I combined that with a thick, 2.25" marble slab – also a traditional element – used in a contemporary way with the waterfall edge.”
The home’s open floor plan also helped guide the kitchen’s design. The combination Great Room/kitchen is viewable from the lofted living area above. “The kitchen is on display all of the time,” says Keister. “When I walk out of my bedroom I look down into the kitchen, so I wanted something that was easy on the eye.”
As such, she purposely created a symmetrical space to accommodate a natural traffic flow that provides for ample food prep and clean-up space as well as storage.