Opportunity born of disaster.
By the time we got there, the kitchen of this 1920’s-era home was a gutted shell following an upstairs plumbing burst. Responding to the needs of an active family of six, the Bluestem design team – Tamatha Miller, Susi Strothman and Mike Lotz – redesigned and expanded the kitchen, connected it to the dining room and created a space that would allow kids, family, friends to gather in droves.
A young family of six had only been in their classic Mediterranean home for a few months when disaster struck. A pipe in an upstairs bathroom failed, pouring water down through the first floor and the basement below. The kitchen, directly below the bathroom, was a total loss. But out of tragedy came opportunity; a chance to rethink, redesign and reimagine a new kitchen space that would serve this active family much better than it had previously.
The original kitchen, like many kitchens of its era, was very small and was squeezed between a storage rich, but hard to navigate, garage entry hall and formal dining room. The only access points were small doorways at opposite corners of the room, and the only natural light came from bay windows in the adjacent breakfast nook. Minimal counter space was tightly wedged between out-of-date appliances and vintage fixtures. The homeowners desired more working space, natural light, and connections to the dining room, living room and backyard. The family also needed a kitchen that would serve as the center of their busy lives and allow for multiple activities while allowing people to flow in, out and through the space freely.
The design concept for this kitchen was based on the idea of a modern art museum housed in a classic historic building. The original architectural details of the house were preserved wherever possible (ex: double-hung divided lite windows, ornate archways, classic trim), and then either emulated or reinterpreted as simpler/cleaner forms elsewhere (ex: new archways). The kitchen itself became a contemporary installation within this classic envelope.
The island, with glacial waterfall countertops, features deep charcoal cabinets and paneled appliances (dishwasher and freezer drawers) on one side, and a habanero chili-colored recessed panel on the other. This intense pop of color is restated in an exposed shelf-back and the nook window, adding zing to this high contrast palette. The island hardware, faucets, appliances and light fixtures bring a polished finish, while the natural arabesque backsplash tile make reference to the Moorish details of the existing archways.
Although the fixtures and details of this kitchen are clean, crisp and contemporary, it feels completely at-home and natural in its classic surroundings. The warm, wood floor connects throughout the first floor, and dark wood trim details, along with reinterpreted archways, continue the existing architectural language into the new spaces. New, wider openings offer easy circulation and inspiring views to the adjacent spaces, while also allowing for interactions with family and friends both indoors and out. This active, busy family has found their new kitchen to be an ideal multi-functional headquarters that also solves their need for connection. It reflects their contemporary lifestyle within their classic home. They couldn’t be happier.
Also important to the family was that all first-floor spaces were opened to each other as much as possible to support both daily, family interactions as well as large parties and holiday gatherings.
This kitchen was designed for both current needs and future possibilities. The family has dreams of eventually converting the existing garage into a family and mudroom; access to that room would happen though a corner of the garage that was annexed during the process.
Modern appliances include a glass-front fridge, cobalt blue 36-inch range, beverage fridge, freezer, drawers, concealed hood, built-in microwave and paneled dishwasher, and all provide the functions and solutions necessary for this busy hub.