Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Warming Up a Winter Retreat

A canal-front getaway gets a warm up

Not long after purchasing their Anna Maria Island getaway, the owners of this Holmes Beach project gave me a call because they felt the kitchen was in the need of some attention.

The Before: dated, nondescript, and cold
I worked with these clients previously. Actually, I have worked with them frequently: On separate occasions, we remodeled a kitchen, two bathrooms, and a wet bar in their previous home; we also remodeled the kitchen in their parents’ home. You get to know a person after 4 or 5 projects, so discovering what she wanted out of this new remodeling project was much simpler. The kitchen was dated, nondescript, and cold.

Since this was going to be a retreat not only for the owners, but also a vacation getaway for family and friends, the goal was to warm it up, give it some character, and bring it into the present. Everything in the previous projects were done in a heavy, traditional look (it went with that particular home). My client still liked that look, but we agreed that a canal-front home needed to be a little brighter and more transitional – but still with a firm foot in the traditional.

We anchored our palette with a warm cherry cabinet from UltraCraft in an Amber finish. The Dennison doorstyle has a contemporary design, and adding the cherry finish really warms it up. The other traditional aspect was a granite countertop – there really was no other option as far as the homeowner was concerned (what can I say? She likes granite).
Proper lighting and stainless steel appliances play against the warm cherry cabinets

The cherry cabinets and granite counters gave us the traditional part of our Transitional feel – now we had to weave in the contemporary components. Stainless steel was the desired finish for the free-standing appliances and a mixed media backsplash of glass and stone was the perfect backdrop for the more traditional granite surface. Taking elements of two different styles and blending them together can really produce a nice result when it’s done correctly.

Mixed media back splash of glass and stone with under cabinet lighting
The lack of natural lighting was tackled with a two-pronged attack: we kept the horizontal surfaces very light (and very neutral) by selecting a granite in Kashmir Gold and a porcelain tile that picked up the subtle earthy tones evident in the granite; we also strategically planned the lighting design to provide both functionality (with under cabinet works lights) and ambiance (with display lights behind upper glass doors). After dinner, the display lights can be lit to provide an appealing backdrop for after-dinner conversation from the adjacent dining area.

These repeat clients couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. I’m just sorry we don’t have any other rooms that are ripe for additional projects. Then again - when I left, they were starting to talk about an outdoor kitchen…

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Taking a Mt. Vernon Condo From Blah to Aaahhh

The once isolated kitchen is now part of the living space
When the owners of this Mt. Vernon condo in Bradenton began considering a new kitchen, they did their research. They looked online; watched HGTV; checked out the design magazines; and took a trip to the local home show – which is where I met them.

Before #1, from the living room
Before #2, the fridge
Before #3, the sink corner

Before #4, the range

Before #5, the bar
They were sick of the small, 70’s era kitchen they inherited when they bought the unit, and had definite ideas about what they wanted in their kitchen remodel: light finishes, a traditional look, plenty of storage, and a bigger feel. These folks also had an issue to work around: the tile floors continued through the entire house and couldn’t be matched – reusing the existing floor was essential to their tight budget.

The first design goal to tackle was a bigger feel. If you can’t match the tile floor, then you can’t remove walls. How do you make a kitchen bigger without removing walls? Our solution was two-fold: remove the old, dated, domed-ceiling, to free up another 12” in ceiling height; and greatly expand an existing pass thru to the dining area. 

Sliding the fridge allowed for a pantry. Can you see the patched the floor? Me neither.

Expanding the pass thru gave us an easy solution to another of the clients’ desires – a better breakfast bar. By wrapping the breakfast counter around a wasted corner, it not only gave them more eating space, but it visually increased the size of the kitchen without actually increasing its size. And with 12” more clearance in the kitchen ceiling, we were able to increase the height of the cabinets, thus adding thirty-three percent more storage by including another shelf in each.  More storage, bigger feel, same space – done!
Lazy Susan corner & hidden dishwasher (left)

After looking at a variety of cabinetry options, the homeowners opted for the budget-friendly Venezia doorstyle in Buttermilk finish from UltraCraft Cabinetry. (Venezia is part of UltraCraft’s unique Vision Collection which utilizes Eurotek veneer, a micro-woodfiber technology that is combined with baked-on, industrial-grade, catalyzed-conversion varnish, giving the Vision Collection a color fast, durable finish.) The great part is that the Buttermilk finish comes with a Caramel patina. My clients received the look of a painted and glazed door - without any of the upgrade costs!

Dishwasher on the left made room for pots & pans storage near the range

We chose to pair the antique white cabinet finish with Sapporo countertops, an earthy brown quartz composite from Viatera. The new, open kitchen made the dark counter the focal point. The terra cotta accent seen in an otherwise light tumbled stone backsplash was the inspiration for the rust paint tones that really set off the creamy cabinets. Finishing the appliances with stainless steel brings an upscale cohesiveness to the entire room.

More breakfast bar means more counter space
All in all, I think we took care of the homeowners’ desires of a bigger, lighter, traditional space – what do you think?