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Aug 23 2017

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Cabinets to Ceilings: Finding the Focal Point

Sometimes the ceiling can be a challenge in kitchen and bathroom design; beams, soffits, ductwork, angles and height can either be a hindrance or a catalyst. You either go around, through or follow the ceiling – respecting the limitations for a site-specific composition. Without balance, there is no composition, and without composition, there is no art.

One Upmanship
This pre-WWII apartment kitchen (above photo) has a structural beam down the center. With the hood duct, little ceiling remained so we blocked it in. The sequence of the detailed cabinets and negative space around the hood elongate the room, and the usable height on the refrigerator side is emphasized by the hanging lamps.

To unite the two halves, the granite counter’s low backsplash aligns with the stove back guard and turns the corner as it rises to full height at the sink up to the glass cabinet. Similar to the black stove anchoring the main wall, the dark slate sink aids in drawing the eye to the transition. The cabinet void in the back corner creates a dynamic focal point contrasting the two heights in a display of movement unexpected in a normally staid, traditional setting.

Dynamic Symmetry
More height than width is common in NYC kitchens. The crown on the tall cabinet (above) goes through the beam, providing vitality without overwhelming the room. The architecture of this space suggests that the tall cabinet is against the column and the shorter lighter cabinets are at the open end. The deeper, tall cabinet with handles instead of knobs signifies greater importance than the surrounding cabinets.

This variation precludes the use of (everyone’s favorite) mirror symmetry (but me). Instead, balance is created using the tenets of the Golden Proportion. whereby the width to length ratio is 62 percent. The tall cabinet proportion is a golden rectangle, similar to the far-right cabinet, as well as the combination of a right cabinet, middle cabinet and shelf. The whole wall to the ceiling is an 86½-in. by x 55-in. golden rectangle.

All the cabinets are different dimensions, yet they are the same proportion. The diagonal lines from the corners cross in the center of the middle cabinet – precisely where the eye is drawn. Any other dimensions, be they wider, shorter or narrower, would generate crossing in a different spot, rendering the dynamic arrangement less visually appealing. The discrepancy might not be noticeable, but understanding golden proportions illustrates the beauty of the composition.

Height is an Illusion
The magic of kitchen and bath designers is their ability to create the illusion of space, movement and height. Above, space is created by the openness of the glass and display portion of the cabinets. Movement occurs as the dynamic eave runs the length of the wall with a reprise at the soffit panel, and height is achieved by the stepping arrangement of the cabinets. The three steps have differing personalities from the same cherry family:

  1. One curved open shelf
  2. Two louvered, angled, sliding doors
  3. Three glass doors with vertical dividers in the open area that lead to the ceiling

The 1-2-3 progression is the pleasing Fibonacci Sequence where each cabinet increases by 62 percent.

When Mirror Symmetry Isn’t Possible
Because of the beam in the photo above, a more dynamic approach to balance is required. From the tall cabinet, the line of the shelf over the window skirts the beam to touch the glass cabinet that embraces the window. This arrangement maintains an open look as the movement expands and unifies the entire wall. It’s not merely cabinet-window-cabinet that focuses on the window; now the window is one piece of the overall composition. Another detail: the glass cabinet is shallower than the right cabinet to align with the beveled angle of the shelf – adding the variety of depth to the composition.

  • A cabinet up to the beam would succumb to being handcuffed by the limitation.
  • Solid doors would produce an unsuccessful attempt at symmetry.
  • Each object has its own personality; similar to islands differing from the perimeter cabinets.

Angled Roof
A bathroom addition of an angled ceiling skylight (above) provided the opportunity to have creative fun. The blue trapezoid follows the roof and floats in the space. Field tile surrounding the design is the golden proportion 62 percent of the width of the blue form. This ratio determines the pleasing size for the space that is neither too large nor small. Connecting the dots confirms the dimensions as diagonals from the corners of the walls align with the corners of the design.

What is Going on Here?
Admittedly, the design in the photo above is not everyone’s taste. The point of discussion is using the space to the hilt. I surmise, in most cases, that cabinets would only be set along the 8-ft. height line with the remainder of the most exciting portion of the roof line left blank – what a shame. I submit this design to illustrate how by connecting the dots similar to constellations, we make familiar patterns as seen in the masterpieces: Taj Mahal and Cathedral of Notre Dame. The angle of the hood points to the apex of the refrigerator cabinet, and the extended right side of the hood and the angle of the refrigerator cabinet touch the ceiling at the same spot. Aloft in that negative space – higher than the cabinets themselves – is the focal point.

– By Mark Rosenhaus, CKD

Aug 14 2017

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Islands – Ideas for the Pulse of the Kitchen

Written by Paula Kennedy, KBB Editorial Board Member and founder of Seattle-based Timeless Kitchen Design

We all agree the kitchen is the heart of the home. Given that, I believe the kitchen ISLAND is the heartbeat, or the PULSE of that heart. It’s like a magnet! You can’t help but be drawn to it; it has an energy all its own.

Growing up at my Grammies’ house, I would sit on a stool at the kitchen table, which back then served as the island. That stool had years of paint layers, and every grandchild grew up with it. We would sit there decorating sugar cookies for hours or rolling out homemade cinnamon buns or pretending to help with canning.

My fondest memories visiting my parents as an adult are at their kitchen island. We would talk for hours sitting there, even though their stools were uncomfortable if you sat too long. But there was a sense that the magic would be broken if we moved to a more comfortable chair or room. They recently moved and downsized and no longer have an island, but the kitchen table serves just as well! My sister’s busy household has an island that is like a magnet, but it isn’t very big. It has a gas cooktop right in the middle of it, which severely limits countertop space and brings up safety concerns, yet we still gather − we can’t help it.

The is a critical element in our design; it can go really right or really wrong. What’s fascinating is that no matter how well or poorly designed, the island still draws us to it in a way no other element in the kitchen can. The sense of community and connection is palpable.

Island Ideas
I was recently inspired to craft this Pinterest board − https://www.pinterest.com/paulakennedyckd/kitchen-islands/ − to get you inspired and keep you thinking out of the box. No more pedestrian kitchens here please! Think about it, we have the honor of designing homes, kitchens and kitchen islands that will bring families and friends together for generations.

Below are a few areas I want to really emphasize before you get lost in Pinterest, again:

Island sinks are almost always necessary, I’d say nine out of 10 times. This one below is my new favorite way to accomplish this goal. Make sure they also have a soap dispenser and garbage disposal. The island sink is no longer just the bar sink or a cute item they have to have to keep up with the Jones.’

Bar stools, get out of your rut if you are in one! Please help the MAGIC by having comfortable seating. Heights are important to get right, and please do give us a place to rest our feet.

Convertible, modular and flexibility − these concepts and function are in high demand and will only increase as trends continue to change.

Do you treat the ends of the island with as much care as the rest of the design?

We could go on and on, but they won’t let me.

  • Accent material or color, only if it makes sense in the design
  • Attached “table” – see great Pinterest examples
  • Attached banquettes
  • Appliances in the island, microwaves, undercounter refrigeration, secondary dishwashers
  • Think outside the box with re-purposing furniture
  • Countertops – mix it up!
  • Visually stimulating, steal the show or be a supporting actor?
  • Avoid the block of cabinets, open it up to add interest and to aid visual illusion of a larger space

Please follow the NKBA Guidelines while designing the Pulse of the Kitchen. How many steps would you want to take to complete cooking for your family? How far would you want to walk with a hot dish out of the island? How many kids, dogs or adults do you want underfoot when preparing a meal? Enjoy the Pinterest board, it has a narrative all its own. Happy island designing!

Paula Kennedy, CMKBD CLIPP, Timeless Kitchen Design, COPYRIGHT 2017

 

Jul 09 2017

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Micro-Design


New York City apartments are notoriously small, but living in small quarters is a growing phenomenon globally. Particularly in larger metropolitan areas, people are looking for less-expensive, more efficient ways of living. One solution is the micro-apartment – a studio space with the optimum minimalist layout.


Designer Ajay Chopra of New York City-based Echo Design + Architecture designed one of these spaces for a client living in Manhattan. The space is only 220 square feet, so the design team needed to make every inch count.

“Architecturally speaking, the square footage was not a lot of space to work with, especially when you’re trying to include a full apartment’s worth of functional features,” said Chopra. “The goal was to create a micro-apartment that appeared far more spacious than it actually is without sacrificing practicalities of everyday living.”


Hidden Kitchen
The team found that the best way to conceal clutter in the kitchen was by hiding it completely behind a fold-out wall, creating that illusion that the space is larger than it really is. Behind the wall, the custom kitchen cabinetry is arranged to maximize space. For example, the door and cupboard panels can be maneuvered to double up as a table.

“This clean, simplified way of living encourages you to only have what you need,” said Chopra. “Beyond that, each element in the kitchen is multifunctional, designed to keep things contained and less distracting while also providing flexible usage for each feature.”

Behind the fold-out walls are small appliances like a microwave, mini-fridge and mini-oven. Outside, the walls in the kitchen are covered in chalkboard paint to create an interactive element and add a personal touch to the space.

Natural Light
Instead of using a regular door that would open out and take up limited space, frosted sliding barn doors were used to divide the bathroom from the bedroom. The sliding features also make the studio space feel more continuous.


“We utilized a white color palette, from features like mosaic tiles to the floating sink and shelving, to make the 5-ft. by 5-ft. bathroom feel clean and open,” said the designer. “The sealed bamboo flooring creates a visual contrast from the white scheme to create further depth in the space and ensure that the white walls really pop.”

These white-paneled walls were also Chopra’s favorite part of the space.  This aspect of the design took the longest to construct because many different modular pieces were incorporated. Even the TV has the same paneling, complete with a 180-degree rotating feature that allows the viewer to see the screen from anywhere in the apartment.


“I love that the dynamic paneling minimizes excess and declutters the space, encouraging the resident to focus on experiences outside the home,” said Chopra. “Working on a project like this has made me rethink the importance of necessity versus excess, while developing an innovative solution to maximize the space that was available.”

Jun 16 2017

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Choosing to Give

Recently the second-annual St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway again raised funds for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Each raffle ticket purchased was donated to the hospital, which provides care and support for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases cost free.


The home, built by Nies Homes, features four bedrooms, four-and-a-half  baths, a master suite, a man cave in the garage with a bonus room above, specialty wine and craft rooms in the basement and an oversized covered deck. Local cabinet manufacturer, R.D. Henry, was named local sponsor of the cause and donated cabinets for the home. Located at The Oaks in Derby, Kan., the St. Jude Dream Home has an estimated value of $420,000.

Country Kitchen
“We chose to take on this project because we think it is an amazing cause,” said Kate Caplan of Wichita, Kan.-based Kitchen & Bath Expressions, who completed the design for the kitchen and one bath in the home.

To make the kitchen feel grand and luxurious, Caplan double stacked cabinets throughout the space and used rustic, white finishes to bring in a country feel. For the island, a sleek cabinet finish called Tattered Fence from R.D. Henry was used to accentuate the piece from the perimeter cabinetry.


A new touch faucet, donated by Brizo, was selected for the main kitchen sink, along with Whirlpool appliances donated from Metro Appliances & More. Caplan chose quartz countertops, donated by Quality Granite & Marble, because of the material’s growing popularity. Light fixtures from Accent Lighting with a glass interior and black lining add a final modern touch to the contemporary country design.


Bold Powder Room
“The powder bath is always an area where we can really get creative and use different and bold finishes you wouldn’t normally see in a bathroom,” said Caplan.

In the powder room, the design team wanted to create a fun and creative space that would make a statement. A gold faucet and gold hardware stand out against a gray vanity with an above-counter sink. Gold pendant light fixtures and bath accessories also highlight the mosaic tile backsplash, which includes white, gray and gold tiles.


“It was a rewarding experience to see a community of building contractors and vendors come together selflessly to donate their time, services and products to make this a reality,” said the designer.