Bold Contemporary Kitchen
When these homeowners requested a glossy, contemporary kitchen in their new home, Designer Richard T. Anuszkiewicz relied on simple modern design elements to create the look they were seeking. Using black, white and a pop of citrus orange, the end result was a cool, geometric kitchen space perfect for entertaining friends and family.
What were the main items on the family’s wish list?
This project was a new home construction. New construction makes design a bit easier knowing you have virtually a blank slate to create the client’s dreams. For this particular client, they wanted to have an overall ‘social’ kitchen. What this meant to them was that they would be able to do all functions of preparation and cooking while interacting with guests. They wanted a "Japanese steakhouse" experience in that their guests would sit across from them while they worked. We achieved this by designing a large island that would be the center of activity in this kitchen. We placed the both the sink and cooktop in the island while still allotting plenty of counter preparation space in between. This gave us the opportunity to provide guest seating on the opposite side of this work surface, creating the interaction the client was looking for. The client also wanted a contemporary and ‘glossy’ kitchen. We went with a streamlined door style in a high-gloss gray color. This ‘caviar’ gray cabinetry from Elmwood Custom Cabinetry, while still remaining neutral, provided a pop against the white walls and floor. We then went with a bold color on the back wall of this kitchen to create a focal point in the space. The added splash of the bright-white waterfall inspired concrete countertop led us to our stimulating kitchen name.
What was the single largest challenge you wanted to address for this client?
My main concern that I took into account when designing this space, is that I did not want the island to feel as though it was overbearing in the room. We knew it had to be large to accommodate the functions that the client desired. This is why we opted for the thick piece of white concrete to add some dimension to the island. This waterfall countertop divided up the island surface area, allowing for interest and also acting as a natural division of preparation surface versus entertaining surface. It even helped us create the barrier of landing surface to the right of the island which was designated for guest’s to access food and beverage without interfering in the cook’s main work area.
What was your biggest obstacle in this space?
The island’s down-draft ventilation system proposed an issue for us in this space. The challenge was that the client wanted to have large drawers under their cooktop for pot and pan storage. This thought is a bit contradictory when working with a down-draft ventilation system. These systems typically occupy the cabinet space beneath the cooktop. To address this issue, we opted to install the system with a ‘reverse blower’ which allows the vent system to sit on the back side of the appliance, so as to not invade the actual cabinet space. This then created the issue of how would this ‘reverse blower’ now be concealed. We created a void of space on the back side of this island, underneath the guest seating countertop surface, to accommodate for the blower. Doing so allowed the guests to have a deeper countertop area than originally anticipated. Overall this worked out well for how the client serves hors d’oeuvres and addressed the challenge of gaining large drawer storage under the cook top.
How does the end result match up with your original vision for the space?
There originally was no wall cabinetry in this kitchen. We intended to hang a piece of art work on the back wall of the space. This particular client has a great collection of art and we wanted to showcase that and make the space feel like a gallery. After evaluating the client’s storage needs, we opted to add lift-up door wall cabinetry. The client also still wanted a dash of traditional design concept and ended up feeling more comfortable having the wall cabinets. Although it was a great design concept to showcase the art work, I believe this worked out well for the client’s lifestyle. It also led us to the color wall focal point and the up and down lighting on the cabinetry, which created a necessary feature in the room.
What surprised you the most about the project?
The concrete countertops in this kitchen were a bit of an adventure, and definitely taught me a few lessons. I learned to be mindful of who is manufacturing your products and what their background and experience level is. This kitchen was installed in a relatively small town, so at times we do not have an abundance of resources to execute design concepts. From a design standpoint, we loved the idea of the sleek yet organic surface the concrete countertops would provide. We ended up working with someone who was trying to get into the concrete countertop business. They did not quite have their techniques perfected so it was a bit of a trial and error to get the end product just right. The positive thing was the manufacturer worked diligently to get our desired end result, and the client, appreciating true art form, had a great attitude about the journey as well.
What are the hidden gems in your plan?
A unique design concept that I really admired about this kitchen was the fact we used all drawer storage for the base cabinetry. The base cabinets were visually a two-drawer style, which created a linear look throughout the kitchen. Some strategic two-drawer bases had a top mounted roll-out shelf on the interior, which provided the utility of the traditional top-drawer storage for your common utensils and smaller items. Also, the drawers proved more functional for end user. Another great feature you will notice is the kitchen does not have any visual decorative hardware. We wanted the kitchen to stay very clean lined overall. We used Blum ‘Tip-On’ concealed hardware and Blum ‘Servo-drive’ electronic concealed hardware on the cabinetry in order for them to open and operate at the touch of the door. The final gem of the space is the under cabinet lighting combined with the above cabinet lighting. Lighting detail can provide an effortless impact in a space. This specific light detail highlighted our bold color choice for the back wall.