This home was built in the 1980s, and the kitchen was original to the house with old oak cabinets and poor lighting, including a very large, boxed-in florescent ceiling light that overwhelmed the room.
The existing space also had two very large closets, one that housed the washer and dryer and the other a poorly designed pantry (pictured below). Both had out-swing doors that interfered with the main traffic pattern and limited the utility of that space in the kitchen.
What to Consider in an Open Kitchen Redesign
The clients wanted a space that was updated, flowed for easy entertaining, and was easy and spacious to cook in. Both husband and wife are serious about cooking and baking, so the new appliances and layout of the kitchen needed to reflect that in both style and utility.
With this in mind, it was obvious that the kitchen was in dire need of reducing the unnecessary boxy ceiling construction and serious thought needed to be given to whether or not the laundry should be in the kitchen. We found that – without a lot of reconstruction! – the washer and dryer could be relocated to a space behind the kitchen and out of the way, freeing up that space.
Of course, often people aren’t the only occupants who use the kitchen, and someone wisely pointed out that we also needed to consider the dog, who was quite content with where her food was stored in the current pantry location, thank you very much, and we shouldn’t mess with that. So we didn’t.
How We Created an Open Kitchen in Existing Space
To the project’s great benefit, we found that the very large and unpleasant looking boxed down ceiling in the central part of the kitchen could be removed, as it had no structural reason for existing. Similarly, the depth of the closets could be reduced, opening up the traffic flow without losing any storage space. In fact, by removing the laundry to another location in the house, we were able to increase the pantry space and incorporate a fantastic coffee bar!
(The coffee bar was wisely located out of the working paths of the cooks.)
In keeping with the desire to give the space a feeling of openness, the pantry doors were made with a sandblasted glass finish to provide a hint of what lies beyond and make the pantry feel like an extension of the kitchen itself. Of course, the family dog’s kibble supply was kept in the same, general closet location so she was not confused as to which door she needed to sit in front of to hint she was ready for breakfast.
As with many updates to kitchens built during the last century, new appliances with additional modern functions did require careful relocation consideration. A deeper refrigerator with French door swings meant we needed to push it into the wall behind a bit deeper than the cabinetry to the right of it while allowing for enough space to the wall for door swing and inner refrigerator drawer operation. These space considerations are not noticeable because of finished panels.
The new six burner range also needed to be relocated because it required more power for venting. Relocating the stove top and oven to an outside wall provided the best solution while also giving the wall a balanced look. The kitchen’s higher than usual ceiling inspired a backsplash focal point at the chimney hood. We used a strong vertical design to parallel the height of the hood chimney with a mosaic glass and stone mix in-between the large format porcelain tiles. The backsplash is both striking and practical – the ideal solution in any kitchen redesign.
The higher ceilings also allowed us to install longer drop drum pendants for lighting, which adds to the feeling of openness and improves the kitchen’s lighting during both day and night.
The homeowners wanted a new floor that would comfortable under foot, but resilient. We decided to install a rich, colored cork. Cork makes an excellent floor for kitchens, not requiring the maintenance of wood or slate but easier to clean and more comfortable to stand on than tile.
The overall materials and transitional style in this kitchen makes the kitchen more pleasant to work in and easier to maintain. Simplified door style, quartz counter tops, large format porcelain wall tiles, cork floor, and stainless steel appliances are all easy to maintain and will look great for years to come.
Special design features for this open kitchen:
- Maple chopping block built in to the counter directly above the pullout trash recycling bin
- An under-mount sink that allows for the faucet to be set below counter height, keeping the counter area free of excess water
- Built-in microwave to open up counter space
- Recessed light fixtures directly above the sink counter top for task lighting
- New recessed lighting in the ceiling in front of the pantries to make the room feel more open
- Tempered glass shelves in the coffee bar
- Contrasting counter tops and contrasting cabinetry colors to create visual interest
- A new sitting area to enjoy a morning coffee and read the paper
- Open wall shelves in the cabinetry left of the sink for family favorite keepsakes
- Tripled drawer and wall cabinet storage