Around here we have many World War II era houses which are in great neighborhoods but typically not that large. In this smaller footprint, usually the kitchen suffered the constraints most but in today’s world that just doesn’t cut it. Of course, I will now hear from New Yorkers, Chicagoans and San Franciscans up in arms about what constitutes “small”. Right, I do hear you! For those of you city dwellers in apartments where the kitchen isn’t even bum-to-bum, this is major luxury. Understood!
How does one best utilize the given space when bumping out with an addition isn’t an option? Our solution was to keep the kitchen and dining room where they originally were but we took down the wall between them. Where the wall once stood we made back to back banks of cabinets, none going to the ceiling. This, of course, saved us four and a half inches of wall space and, just as importantly, opened up the top. The openness creates an illusion of more space and the space gets filled with light coming from either direction.
Adding on to this design detail, we focused on the richness of the materials. Because the cabinets would be both in the kitchen, which is less dressy, as well as the dining room, more dressy, we went with cherry cabinets. Natural cherry is exquisite! The longer it’s exposed to the light, the deeper, richer and more interesting the wood becomes. Cherry never needs a stain, it’s so beautiful just the way it is.
The cherry alone would have been too heavy for a small space. We needed to lighten things up. By inserting frosted glass as the door panels in the dining room, we got the lightness we were looking for. These mixed materials created a subtle, modern feel all the while disguising that practical aspect that they provide much needed storage. This bank of cabinets serves as a good backdrop for the works of art, on the walls and as the table.
We were concerned that the two rooms came together without a hitch. This meant that the floors, walls and ceilings had to meet seamlessly. For this to happen, you need workmen of the the calibre of my guys. Unlike many in the business, Jerry and his gang put in the effort to make those seams disappear. It looks like magic but, in fact, takes a great deal of thought, skill and care.
And, of course, we were concerned with getting the most bang for the buck in space utilization. To this end we selected frameless cabinets with undermount glides. This may not seem like a great space saver but when there are only 6 cabinets on one side of the kitchen and you gain nine whole inches, this qualifies as a big improvement. Since we wanted a 36” cooktop, we put the oven, which is only 30” wide, in the other bank of cabinets so we could max out the space under the cooktop with pots and pans storage. The wall cabinets were made to go almost to the ceiling to capture all of that space.
As you look at the details, you’ll observe the interplay between the materials. There’s the softness of the two woods and the hardness of the glass, steel and granite. There’s the smoothness of the the glass and granite against the raggedness of the mosaic tile. There’s the lightness of the glass and steel balanced by the dark wall color. The result gives good balance to materials, textures and colors. The space is warm yet modern, happy and fun yet elegant.