What gets us excited? What images, thoughts, and ideas spark our imaginations? In the interior design world, imagination is as important as the functional aspects that guide design decisions and direction.
At the end of the day, designing a jaw-dropping kitchen or creating a dreamy, romantic bedroom may have something to do with implementing solid design “rules” and practices–i.e. incorporating proportion, symmetry, scale, color, rhythm, and harmony, but it probably also hinges on the creative impetus–the spark that then drives the full “vision” of the desired result.
Recently, I met with a wonderful couple who had a large, but very outdated kitchen. A corner range created not only a functionally awkward space, but visually caused a cramped look to the kitchen. Our design inspiration came from the sleek, European style of flush walls that contain all the (integrated) appliances, but also from the idea of using the architecture of the high ceiling and large windows to direct the design choices.
As you can see in the previous image, the cabinetry did not go all the way to the ceiling, which not only limited the storage capacity, but created an awkward siteline–drawing attention to the space above the different heights of wall cabinets. Additionally, the range and cooktop installed at an angle in the corner of the kitchen limited both the available space and the harmony of the overall footprint of the kitchen. The angle simply created a visual “stop sign” in the corner of the kitchen. The contrast between the bright white, beadboard detailed kitchen island and the other wood cabinetry also created a somewhat visually jarring contrast.
The island does not feel well integrated within the rest of the kitchen. To my eye, the overall original kitchen (shown below) feels uneven, disjointed, and lacking overall grace and continuity. Even the two pendant fixtures over the island look close together and not well placed to create balance and even lighting.
So, our design directives were numerous, but quickly established and targeted:
- Bring the eye up by designing cabinetry that went up to the full ceiling height
- Create more visual beauty and fluidity by introducing a glorious visual treat of color (the dutch tile blue) and create the right kind of balance and contrast by using a pure, natural walnut for the island and appliance “wall.”
- Bring a feeling of elegance and height by creating a complete, flush wall of integrated appliances and cabinetry
- Create a new lighting plan to better light the ceiling and give the kitchen more balance and uplifting light.
- Use color and contrast to further add visual integrity, beauty and harmony.
- Use properly scaled elements to both highlight and capitalize on the large footprint of the kitchen space.
I’ve added some “in-process” pictures here, as well, to give you an idea of what things look like mid-transformation! In the images below, we see the contractor and his crew framing out the new gas fireplace at the end of the kitchen eating area. The massive walnut island contains the cooktop, the microwave drawer, and tons of storage!! As large as this island is, it is actually the perfect scale for this big kitchen space.
Although this space is still being finished, the pictures below give you a good sense of what our final product will look like!
I think you will agree that the new kitchen feels like a breath of fresh air, as compared to the original space! Visually, the whole space now feels beautifully balanced and the “working” kitchen layout creates great ease of movement for the family chefs! The dual height island is designed to allow cooking while company and on-lookers can sit at the beautiful walnut bar top, or the integrated table at the end of the island. Sleek, clean and cool! We’ve added three gorgeous Visual Comfort pendants that add a touch of glamour to the kitchen while also acting as fun sculptural elements. Of course, best of all–they add soft, directed light for the bar and work surfaces.
My clients also love to bake, so a stellar new pantry area was key for organizing and providing the right kind of space for a busy baker! A soapstone countertop sits above cabinetry all custom-designed to store bins and every possible type of tin, cookie cutters, and (of course) rows of containers full of different kinds of flour, spices, and other baking goodies! It is an organized baker’s dream!
Finally, the project’s “icing on the cake” had to be that special, inspiration piece that ties everything together. In this case, my clients took inspiration from a beloved part of the Caribbean where they love to vacation. They commissioned their favorite artist to paint a scene that would transport them to that gorgeous world of Caribbean ocean and air. This amazing piece of art will be mounted prominently above the new gas fireplace, and will serve as a wonderful visual focal point for the kitchen eating and seating area.
Personally, I can’t wait for this project to be completed. Stay tuned to see the finished result next time!!