The kitchen of a new-construction home is reinvented as a high-design masterpiece featuring gray cabinetry, brass hardware and a custom-built island.
Before: Basic Design
Like most new-construction homes built in 2001, the kitchen of this two-story house was designed using contractor-grade materials — including blonde oak veneer cabinets, engineered composite countertops and a ready-made island too small to function properly.
After: High-End Upgrade
Conscientious of the client's return on investment (ROI), this kitchen got an upgrade with cost-saving and custom options. While new cabinets would have cost an estimated $12,000, the existing contractor-grade cabinets were refreshed with high-gloss latex paint for only $1,200. The composite countertops were replaced with a Carrera marble remnant found in a slab yard. The biggest splurge was the storage-packed kitchen island, which is made of welded steel and silvered alder wood, topped with a concrete work surface.
Cozy Breakfast Nook
Just off the kitchen sits a modest breakfast nook. A drab existing chandelier was swapped for a designer-quality, rope-covered orb pendant. To pull the black and white tones found in the floor-to-ceiling basket-weave wall tile into the breakfast nook, draperies custom-made from black-and-white check fabric were used to dress the bay windows.
When space is at a premium in a kitchen, it's important to assign a purpose to every square inch. Prior to the remodel, the angled wall separating the kitchen from the adjacent formal dining room was dead space. To put it to good use, a custom serving buffet was designed to provide extra storage, then finished with the same paint used on the existing kitchen cabinets for a cohesive look.
The furniture-like look of the island stems mostly from its steel frame. For graphic impact, it was welded from tubular steel into an "X" shape, then powder-coated in a charcoal finish. Once cured, base cabinets made of alder wood with a silvered gray finish were added to the frame. The look is architectural and transitional in style, a combination that works well with the homeowner's modern aesthetic.
To avoid visual repetition, many kitchen designers choose to vary the materials used for perimeter cabinet and kitchen island countertops. Here, perimeter countertops feature honed Carrera marble, while the island is topped with dark gray concrete, which coordinates with the marble's veining. Concrete is an excellent alternative to solid stone, since it can be manufactured in a variety of colors and thicknesses. Additionally, its durable surface is ideal for handling hot plates and pans.
While the front and rear facades of this island are meant to be architectural and decorative, its sides were designed to keep glassware, cookware and cookbooks neatly stored. Since the sides aren’t visible from the adjacent breakfast nook or from the front, the kitchen maintains an uncluttered look, even though many essentials are out in the open.
This stylish light fixture was custom-made to coordinate with the kitchen's brass accents. Fabricated by Grey Furniture for approximately the same price as an off-the-shelf design, the new pendant's spherical shape helps to break up the room's rigid lines. When installing a fixture over an island, allow roughly 28-34 inches of clearance from the bottom of the fixture to the top of the work surface.
Easy Cabinet Update
The simple addition of charcoal gray semigloss latex paint gave these contractor-grade cabinets a facelift. Charcoal gray is referred to as a “new neutral,” and serves as an alternative to beige, cream or taupe. This versatile color coordinates with just about every shade in the spectrum.
Stainless steel and polished nickel have become standard for new-construction homes, but brass is equally as classic and comes in finishes that coordinate with traditional, transitional or contemporary styles. To add a designer touch to the cabinet fronts and drawers, transitional pulls in a satin brass finish were purchased online for $12 each.
Apron sinks have become go-to features in kitchens of traditional, industrial or modern persuasions. These sinks come in both under-mount and flush-mount options. Always let your contractor know which type of apron sink you’ve chosen, so that they may cut surrounding surface materials to the appropriate size.
To complement the farmhouse style of the apron sink, a polished brass faucet was chosen for its classic lines and sharp contrast against the white porcelain and white Carrera marble countertops. Faucets affect the fabrication of solid-surface countertops. When sourcing a faucet, find out if the chosen fixture is a single-, double- or triple-hole. Then relay this information to the fabricator, who will center the holes on your chosen apron sink.
Appliances: Save on Space and Cost
The two-in-one design of a microwave range makes an excellent space-saving solution for tiny kitchens and remodels on tight budgets. When switching out a standard hood for a microwave-range version, determine the depth from the bottom of the upper cabinets to the surface of the range itself. Ideally, the microwave range hood should sit flush or slightly higher than the surrounding upper cabinets. This will ensure a safe distance for cooking while contributing symmetry.
Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn
Stainless Steel Refrigerator
A stainless steel double-door refrigerator with an integrated water and ice dispenser was chosen for its compact design. Relegating the freezer drawer to the bottom of the unit is a practical solution, since a refrigerator is accessed significantly more often than a freezer on a day-to-day basis. Owners of stainless steel appliances should invest in a good stainless steel cleaner, wiping often to clean fingerprints and smudges.
Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn
When remodeling a kitchen to include a central island, allow enough width between the island and fully opened dishwasher doors. Since most dishwasher doors stand 30 inches tall, leave an opening at least 36 inches wide to account for the opened door and extra space to maneuver around.
Carrera Marble Countertops
Marble countertops are classic and timeless, but are not ideal for homes with children prone to spilling, since they stain easily. If considering marble, keep in mind that this material is more delicate than options such as granite or quartz. If you do choose marble countertops, a finished edge can easily give them modern or traditional flair. Homeowners interested in traditional styling should consider a beveled or ogee edge, while a relaxed edge is ideal for modernists.
The average height for a kitchen backsplash is between 15 and 24 inches; however, a backsplash that terminates only 2 feet above a countertop can make walls appear choppy, resulting in a busy look. An excellent alternative is counter-to-ceiling installation. The result is striking, high-end and creates a much more cohesive design.
Since the custom kitchen island was designed to be the main focal point, it was important to choose barstools that wouldn't compete with its graphic, architectural style. Keeping that in mind, a pair of black wooden barstools with a woven lattice detail was selected to pick up the black accents in the backsplash and window treatments.