Kitchen Remodel in Wellesley Gets an Open-Minded Opening

When this couple relocated from Washington DC to Wellesley, they knew the Cliff Estates neighborhood was great, the architecture outside was excellent and everything about the house met their needs…. except the weird galley kitchen that doubled as a hallway to the family room.  Before they committed to the purchase, a local realtor recommended they have us look at the space to see if we thought the dual purpose thoroughfare had any hope.

Before & After Floor Plans

The Owners wanted the kitchen and family room open to each other, and wanted to make sure the new space was going to work for a growing family.  We suggested taking the space from the adjacent library (not a priority space for them) and finding a way for the current space to be an added value to the kitchen, while allowing the traffic pattern to the family room to be unimpeded.  At first, the clients were concerned that they would not get a kitchen that was part of the family room, and skeptical that they would love a less direct sightline.

We devised a plan for the existing kitchen space to provide additional storage with a dinette.  This created a great bridge from the kitchen to the family room that provides casual dining, a craft and game space, as well as a place for future homework. ask carolyn  We discussed the fully open concept and the benefit with smaller homes where this open space is more important; however, we felt sure that the spacious family room combined with this much larger kitchen and an indirect opening would serve the family better in this case.  Even an almost silent dishwasher can project an unwelcome noise in a large room with a vaulted ceiling.

I often tell our clients that we have the benefit of not trying to resolve a design challenge while we are occupying a space.  This was another great experience for us to learn about what was ultimately important to our customer, and offer them solutions that are designed in the best interest of their lives when the project is done.  While the initial desire was to have the family room and Island more open to each other, the client loves the way the spaces work and can now enjoy open living with defined space that gives the whole family a casual “together” environment.

   

                              Existing Library                                             New Kitchen Location

   

            Existing Galley Kitchen                                     New Opening to Kitchen

 

 

Cool Modern Kitchen Remodel in Holliston

We are often asked to remove walls to help with the open concept many people are after today. This is a project that benefitted in so many ways by doing this; I am really very excited to share it with you. When I met the Owners, they were more than tired of being greeted by the refrigerator that was imposing a space constraint on the kitchen; as well as standing guard to ensure no one could see past it to the family room. The couple was hopeful there would be a solution to keep a fair amount of storage space and improve the work space, they just couldn’t see beyond the paradigm of the bearing wall.  

The requests by the Owners were that they wanted a clean modern kitchen that would still feel warm and relaxing because they wanted to open it up to the family room. The Mr. also loves to cook from scratch, and wanted a kitchen that worked hard without a big mess being part of the family room.

The Challenges were:  1.How open could the space be with the structural challenges? 2. Where would everything go and still have a good working environment when the wall was gone?  3. How could we make the space feel part of the living environment and satisfy the Owners professional level cooking style?

We started with the wall, and because of the load we needed a piece of steel that was wider than the wall itself, and we wanted the opening to be as tall as possible. This posed a bit of a dilemma because it is a pet peeve of mine not to have an obvious statement in a design that says “a wall was removed here”.  Alexandra came up with a great idea to build out the trim as wide as the beam on the walls, and this created a fantastic frame for the kitchen from the family room; a beautiful modern definition statement without any blockage of the space.

Early in the planning stage we showed the owner a few locations in concept form for placing the refrigerator. We decided to tuck it in to the corner where ingredients could be accessed easily from the work space and not be a bulky part of the view in. Refrigerators are usually best off to the side because they act as architectural anchor (good and bad). Additionally, we moved all of the storage for dry goods to the wall opposite the sink.

As for the solution to bridge the cooking and relaxing spaces, we started with a few iterations of typical ways to mask the mess on the prep counter, and when a waterfall edge came up in the discussion- we pushed the idea of this stunning high top counter that encompasses the cook and draws the eye to a spectacular furniture like piece of contemporary art and craftsmanship.

Before Images (click on images to enlarge):

After Images(click on images to enlarge):

 

Trends: Accenting with River Stone Tile

Riverstone 3River stone or natural rock tiles are a great way to add a natural point of interest if you want to create a unique texture, soften a plane of straight lines or bring the outdoors inside. These beautiful stone mosaics are made of whole or cut stones with a wide spectrum of colors, shapes and textures. Buyer beware – like many things you will encounter while selecting finishes, they are captivating – but not practical for everything. River stones should be used where they have purpose in the design aesthetic and enhance a look. The first time I used this type of mosaic, I had an existing handmade quarry tile floor in a sunroom that was about 20 years old, the slab had a crack on the perimeter, cracking the tiles around the entire room, so I was able to remove about a 6” perimeter and add the river rocks after making the concrete repair which saved a high quality floor and also update the look! It worked in this case because: 1) it was a perfect connotation for a room that had plants, indoor outdoor furniture, transitioned the inside and out and 2) quarry tiles are an earthy material and I was able to find a complementary blend of stone color. There are a couple of pros and cons. The first thing to consider is how textural the mosaic is that you choose- some of these river stones have varied thickness- that adds more visual interest, but will not feel great underfoot. I usually ask clients to stand on them in the store without their shoes on before they decide they want them on the floor. The next is that there will be more grout exposed, so that should be selected very carefully and the use of a modified grout that resists stains is imperative. Last is not to use this type of product gratuitously. If you are renovating a kitchen in a mountainous region- the stones would be a fun way to embrace the surroundings. A Penthouse bathroom is probably not the place you want to install too much of Mother Nature in the wrong context. Above is a picture of a project we completed about a year ago- a very modern bath with river stone used to add some Zen to the rigid contemporary lines. This composition is often associated with Pacific Rim design, but fits as well in New England Renovations with the proper selection of colors and placement. Note the use to accentuate the niche and frame the floor (avoiding an uncomfortable footing and getting more value from the texture than if it were used on its own.