A Contemporary Kitchen With Asian Flair

A bright yellow kitchen with an awkward layout and challenging architectural design was begging for a makeover, and designer Lauren Bland found the perfect solutions.
Neutral Transitional Kitchen With Exposed Ceiling Beams

Neutral Transitional Kitchen With Exposed Ceiling Beams

Photo courtesy of Bob Narod

Photo by: Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath

Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath

A homeowner desperate for help with a kitchen posing architectural challenges gets a stunning makeover by designer Lauren Bland that addresses the structural obstacles while honoring the homeowner's Asian heritage.

Describe the homeowner's wish list.

The homeowners hoped to resolve architectural “problem areas” that looked unbalanced and unattractive and gain better work areas and circulation for cooking and entertaining. They also wanted a distinctive design with a slightly Asian flair and flexible family-style seating.

Bright Yellow Kitchen Goes Cool Contemporary

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Mountainous Terrain

Before the redesign, too many windows and doors breaking up the space looked awkward in the bright yellow kitchen. The off-center window above the sink was a design nightmare that needed to be remedied.

Photo By: Lauren Bland

Awkward Architecture

Peaks and valleys in the ceiling were a distracting element in the kitchen that the homeowner worried could not be rectified.

Photo By: Lauren Bland

Tricking the Eye

In this stunning contemporary kitchen, distracting ceiling lines and awkward angles are no longer a concern. By incorporating gorgeous rustic beams and low-voltage lighting tracks with pin-spotting heads, designer Lauren Bland believes she was able to trick the eye and rectify the strange architectural details from the before kitchen without actually having to change the architecture.

From: Lauren Levant and Jennifer Gilmer

Photo By: Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath

Asian Contemporary

The kitchen's new look was designed to "fool the eye" away from the awkward ceiling using gorgeous wooden beams. Overall, the homeowner hoped for a contemporary look with Asian flair, a nod to her family's heritage.

Cooking Station

"The main cooking area boasts a 36-inch Wolf range and a custom-designed stainless ventilation hood, which has gorgeous little button details," says designer Lauren Bland.

From: Lauren Levant and Jennifer Gilmer

Photo By: Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath

Wine Cooler

A 24-inch wine cooler in the peninsula was a bonus feature in this stunning kitchen that features state-of-the-art appliances.

From: Lauren Levant and Jennifer Gilmer

Cooking Kitchen

Closed Cabinets and open shelving offer plenty of storage in this Asian contemporary kitchen, and the large 27-inch Sub-Zero fridge stores tons of fresh food, perfect for a homeowner who loves to cook.

From: Lauren Levant and Jennifer Gilmer

Photo By: Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath

Morning Routine

Giving this morning ritual its own station makes a cup of coffee feel like a special treat every morning.

From: Lauren Levant and Jennifer Gilmer

Photo By: Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath

Coffee Station

A coffee station with Asian accents brings just the right amount of oriental style to the contemporary kitchen.

From: Lauren Levant and Jennifer Gilmer

Photo By: Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath

Fossilized Stone

According to designer Lauren Bland, the homeowner's young son picked out the fossilized stone for the coffee table. "When visitors come by, he introduces them to each of the ancient animals and creatures that are “living” in the kitchen," says Lauren.

From: Lauren Levant and Jennifer Gilmer

Photo By: Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath

Backsplash Decision

Though it took a while to settle on just the right backsplash for this contemporary kitchen remodel, the final decision was a sculpted limestone tile that could not be more beautiful.

From: Lauren Levant and Jennifer Gilmer

Photo By: Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath

Rhythmic Backsplash

According to Lauren, the sculpted limestone tile used for the backsplash "has a physical undulation to it and creates a visual rhythm in the space."

From: Lauren Levant and Jennifer Gilmer

Photo By: Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath

Simple Cooking

Cooking dinner is made even easier when the oven is flanked by pull-out pantries that store all the necessary spices and condiments.

From: Lauren Levant and Jennifer Gilmer

What was the biggest issue the design addressed?

The architecture of the existing kitchen space was really the biggest challenge of my redesign. The client came to me almost in desperation, believing that there was no way to resolve the distracting architectural problems in the space. The window over the sink on the back wall was off-center. There were many crazy peaks and valleys in the ceiling, and there were far too many windows and doors carving up the space. The solution to all of this was to fool the eye in various ways, making it look like things were symmetrical, cohesive and balanced, even though they really weren’t! In this way, we pulled off a beautiful, balanced design, even though we really didn’t change most of the architecture underneath.

Describe an obstacle in the space.

Overcoming the unbalanced/disjointed architecture (without really changing it) was a big challenge. Unifying the ceiling, with all of its crazy peaks, valleys and angles, was achieved with the use of open beams. I designed a series of beautiful, rustic wood beams to traverse the width of the kitchen, and this accomplished two things. First, it distracted the eye from the chaos of the rooflines above, and second, it provided a perfect opportunity to place strategic lighting. Usually, with an angled cathedral ceiling, it’s almost impossible to place light exactly where you want it. Through the use of low-voltage lighting tracks with pin-spotting heads, I was able to highlight exactly the features I wanted to. The lights look beautiful strung along the bottom of the beams – and it has become one of my favorite features in the room design.

How did the end result match your original vision?

Sometimes certain details are hard for clients to visualize until the project is further along in completion. In this project, that detail was the backsplash. We waited until the cabinetry and countertops were in place, and then we played around with a few different concepts. We ended up choosing a material that I think is extremely special. The tiles are made of sculpted limestone, which has a physical undulation to it and creates a visual rhythm in the space. In the end, it was the perfect choice and helped make this renovation every bit the total transformation that we’d striven for.

What surprised you the most about this project?

In this project, I loved the fact that my client was fully engaged in the creative process and found ways to incorporate her family and culture into the project. The soft Asian influence in the design reflects her own heritage, and her young son was the one to pick out the very special slab of fossilized stone for the coffee station. When visitors come by, he introduces them to each of the ancient animals and creatures that are “living” in the kitchen. This serves to remind me that as a designer, I’m not just creating beautiful spaces; I’m also making way for new, meaningful moments and memories in a family’s home.

What are the hidden gems that make a big difference?

In this kitchen, the appliance choices and configurations really made a difference. We used twin 27-inch Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezers (almost like bookends), which really helped me visually and functionally balance the back wall of the kitchen. We hid the microwave in the peninsula (a drawer style by Dacor) and also placed a matching warming drawer beneath that, which is so helpful when entertaining. The main cooking area boasts a 36-inch Wolf range and a custom-designed stainless ventilation hood, which has gorgeous little button details. The 24-inch wine cooler and the various professional-grade coffee/espresso machines (which were given their own special alcove) are the cherry on top. I think this kitchen is not only remarkably attractive, it’s also incredibly well outfitted with the crème-de-la-crème of appliance equipment – a cooking and entertaining dream!

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Lauren Levant

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Lauren Levant Interior
laurenlevant.com/ 3903 Clement Way Pittsburgh, PA 15224 412-226-5566