Spacious, Contemporary Kitchen With Marble Backsplash
Photography by Bob Narod for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath
Today's kitchens have to be supreme multitaskers — for cooking, clean-up, serving and eating. The space can still remain glamorous, as evidence in this reincarnation of the owner's childhood kitchen. We caught up with Lauren Levant Bland of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchens & Bath Ltd., to find out how she redesigned the space for a modern family.
Describe the homeowners' wish list.
The story here, in many ways, is of bringing about new life. This was the client's childhood home, of which he has fond memories. After inheriting the house from his parents, he returned with his own family from his life abroad, and began the delicate process of honoring the past while also re-imagining what the house could one day become.
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What were the homeowners' design problems?
To support the dynamic family life this new generation desired, the first and biggest task was to open up the energy and flow of the main living spaces — the kitchen, family eating area and den. Removing the dividing walls allowed light and life to pass through effortlessly.
What was your biggest obstacle in this space?
One of the challenges was to create a look that is crisp, clean and classic enough to complement an American Colonial home, yet fresh and modern enough to excite a forward-thinking, globe-trotting young family. We chose fresh modernity of white-on-white materials, balanced by deep rich wood tones and accented lightly by marble, linen and chrome details.
How does the end result match up with your original vision?
Along the way, we adjusted the proportions of certain focal points like the range area because we needed to push the design envelope a BIT more. We also added some stainless steel cabinetry for a bit more modernity. These changes didn't affect the overall aesthetic entirely, but it made the design swing a bit further toward modern than we'd initially planned.
What lessons did you learn?
I was pleased to find that my clients greatly appreciated the aspects of the design that are the least traditional. This taught me that even when designing for traditional homes, I can be bolder in suggesting that my clients move slightly further "out of the box."
What are the "hidden gems"?
When designing an open-plan kitchen, preserving pleasing views, and hence having hide-away storage, is critical. We have three appliance garages to keep the countertops clear. The microwave is hidden in the island, and yet is functional thanks to the drawer-style access. Even the refrigerator is hidden in plain sight, thanks to the stainless-steel cabinetry around it. Design elements like these keep the kitchen looking fabulous in everyday, real life.