Kitchen Update Improves Efficiency and Aesthetics

There can be a lot of feet moving around this Farmington, NM kitchen when the homeowners’ kids and grandkids drop by. For that reason, having a space with more room for people to visit and efficiently move about was an important goal for its redesign.

The kitchen was also in need of a major update, given its mauve wallpaper, laminate countertops and heavily grained dark cabinetry – which left it desperately trapped in the early 1970s, explains Diane Wandmaker, CMKBD/co-owner of Kitchen Studio in Albuquerque, NM. The designer worked with her husband/co-owner, Joe McDermott, who specializes in general contracting, to renovate the space.


Island anchor

The focus of the transformation, and the heart of the space, is the generously sized, 12'-long island. To accommodate its dimension, Wandmaker lengthened the kitchen – by about a foot – extending it into the former breakfast nook that ultimately became a much-needed desk area. “We maintained a table in the dining area at one end of the kitchen,” she says, “so we didn’t need the breakfast area, too.”

She also squared up the new island to run parallel with the perimeter cabinetry, making a huge improvement in the kitchen’s efficiency compared to the previous space, where the island was positioned diagonally across the room.

The island’s generous length gave Wandmaker the ability to add seating, which she deliberately located on the non-active hutch/oven side of the kitchen to keep visitors out of the flow of traffic on the more active sink side. A thoughtful separation of active/non-active sides of the kitchen also drove the placement of several appliances. These include the Thermador refrigerator, which was moved to the sink side of the kitchen to accompany the U-Line undercounter refrigerator – which is located for convenient access by the grandkids – and the Thermador dishwasher and microwave.

The island features cumin-stained Crestwood alder cabinets topped with Radianz Mirama Bronze quartz from Samsung with rounded/notched corners that add softness and interest. Its multi-level top includes a Thermador cooktop that utilizes the existing duct work.

Since the homeowner has some difficulty lifting heavy pots, Wandmaker lowered it 3" to offer cooking assistance. The designer also added pop-up outlets, one on each side of the cooktop, which help keep the space neat and tidy while providing easy access to electricity. Spice pull-outs flank each side of the cooktop as well. Additional special storage features include spice inserts in the island, file drawers in the desk area and trash/recycle containers next to the sink, all of which give the homeowners a way to get, and stay, organized.

The designer contrasted the dark island with light-colored perimeter Crestwood Renoir maple cabinetry with a hand-rubbed glaze that gives it an aged feeling without excessive distressing. A Cambria Canterbury quartz countertop adds interest when mixed with the Mirama Bronze-topped island and existing medium-colored hardwood flooring.

“The kitchen is fairly large,” she says, noting its approximate 425-sq.-ft. size. “We wanted a mix of tones to add interest. We didn’t want it too dark or too light.”


Traditional elegance

A second focal point of the kitchen is the hutch, which embodies the traditional, elegant style the homeowners desired. Special accents include fluted pilasters (which are repeated at the sink), lead/seed glass doors, wood valance (which is repeated above the sink) and beadboard backsplash (beadboard is repeated on the hutch side of the island). “They wanted to be able to display some decorative items,” explains Wandmaker.

For additional display space, she added open shelves to the side of each tall cabinet – one of which surrounds a Thermador combination steam/convection oven – that flanks the hutch. “These also help prevent the space from feeling like a tunnel,” she states, adding they are one of the first elements visitors see when they walk into the kitchen from either entrance.

Visitors also quickly take notice of the custom Premier Copper stamped apron front farmhouse sink. It ties in with the 2"x2" copper backsplash tiles that are accents for the 4"x8" natural stone tile, as well as the countertops, which contain flecks of copper.

“There are a lot of details in this space,” says the designer. “This new kitchen is so very different from the previous space.”

Wandmaker believes her team’s ability to see beyond the existing space helps accomplish such transformations and is one reason why these clients, who live about three hours away from the Kitchen Studio, chose to work with the design team.

“We can look at a space and see past what they have now,” she says. “In this kitchen, there were some ‘givens,’ such as the location for the cooktop and the sink. But we moved the refrigerator to the other side of the room to help improve the work triangle. And we gave them a place for everything, especially small appliances, such as the microwave and her veggie blender – which can now be stored in a cabinet – so it’s easier to keep the countertops clear.”