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House Review: Kitchen Is King


House Review: Kitchen Is King

Large or compact, modern or transitional, this room is still the center of everything

By Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer December 8, 2016
This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of Pro Builder.

Beyond food preparation, kitchens are used for socializing, entertaining, and homework. Buyers crave abundant natural light, as well as easy access to living, dining, and outdoor living areas. We’ve come a long way from the first attempts at opening kitchens to the family room. In those early days, we relocated the sink from beneath a window to an island that overlooked the family and breakfast rooms, and we relied on windows in those areas to provide natural light. Now, in addition to multiple windows bringing light to the kitchen, that room opens up more fully to living and dining areas.

We’ve seen preferences in cabinet finishes change back and forth, too. Though the current trend is toward painted surfaces and minimalist detail, as you’ll see in the following pages, there’s still a lot to be said for natural wood finishes. Ranging from a smaller cottage kitchen to a luxurious high-end custom design, each of these projects confirms that the kitchen remains the most important spot in the home.


Oliva, Plan 3

Robert Hidey Architects

Width: 65 feet
Depth: 90 feet
Living area: 5,246 sf

Designed for The New Home Company, Oliva is an enclave of 31 estate-style homes inspired by the rich Spanish Mission heritage of its San Juan Capistrano, Calif., locale. Spaces flow together in this luxurious open-plan residence. A sitting area for casual conversation in the center of the soaring great room adjoins the ample kitchen island, while a more formal dining area opens to an outdoor loggia through multi-folding glass doors. A short hallway leads to a generous walk-in pantry and a fully equipped work kitchen for catered events or messy cooking.

A. Set on an axis with the great room, the kitchen has a large island with ample seating for quick meals. Adjacent to it is an area that can be used for dining or casual seating
B. At the rear of the home with a large view window, the formal dining room is readily accessible to the kitchen
C. The covered loggia, accessed through folding glass doors from the dining room and great room, provides space for outdoor dining
D. Tucked away from view but accessible from both kitchen spaces is a substantial pantry with floor-to-ceiling cabinetry on both sides 
E. A back kitchen allows for serious entertaining while keeping the mess out of sight. Groceries can be brought directly into the back kitchen through a door from the garage


The Bay Model

Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD

Width: 49 feet
Depth: 82 feet
Living area: 1,880 sf

A foot-thick cased opening defines this kitchen space, which is open to the living and dining areas. A window above the farm sink and a matching window to the right overlook the porch, while double French doors offer additional light and access to the side porch and yard. A built-in stainless refrigerator and pantry provide storage space and clean lines. Wood floors and a contrasting white color palette throughout the house create a simple, elegant home that lives larger than its 1,880 square feet.

A. A central island doubles as work space and a snack area
B. Double French doors open to a side porch and outdoor living area
C. Two kitchen windows provide plenty of natural light
D. The adjacent dining area features a window seat


The Lambert

Residential Concept Designs
Gary Iltis

Width: 108 feet
Depth: 76 feet
Living area: 4,535 sf

Exposed brick, a recessed metal ceiling, and multiple windows combine to create an elegant, light-filled kitchen. Stained cabinets and painted island finishes add to the traditional charm of this functional space made for cooking and socializing. Pantry storage and the laundry area are accessed through a pocket door.

A. Brick and decorative tile surround the cooking area
B. The beverage center features a wine cooler and display rack
C. An arched opening leads to the family entry and drop zone
D. A pocket door opens to the pantry and laundry area
E. Three windows and a French door provide plenty of natural light


Santa Barbara II Model

The Evans Group 
Donald F. Evans, AIA

Width: 65 feet
Depth: 80 feet
Living area: 3,937 sf

It would have been easy to feature the kitchen of a large 7,000- or 8,000-square-foot home, but it may be more interesting to see a well-done kitchen in a builder’s model of less than 4,000 square feet. Floor plan features include a centrally located kitchen for ease of entertaining, with a seating bar that adjoins the leisure room, an oversize center island with stool seating, and an adjacent café and pantry. High ceilings, pendant lights, well-considered appliance placement, a recessed microwave and oven, a commercial cooktop with custom hood, a farm sink, marble slab countertops and a marble backsplash, and glass-door cabinets are details that set this kitchen apart.

A. Kitchen is centrally located 
B. Oversize center island
C. Kitchen is set adjacent to the leisure room, café, and dining room, and down the hall from the garage
D. Various seating options at the island, bar, and café
E. Clean and classical finish options


The Colette

Sublime Homes
Jacklyn Graniczny 

Width: 67 feet
Depth: 49 feet
Living area: 4,300 sf

Symmetry is a crucial feature of this balanced space. Like a modern hearth, the cooktop area is the kitchen’s focal point, with shelves for storing spices and utensils and a mirrored backsplash to reflect light and create a sense of spaciousness. 

Atop a stainless steel tile border, white mosaic tile runs from countertop to ceiling and along the window casing to create definition. Motion-sensor–activated under-cabinet lights provide both task and accent lighting. Quartz Carrara countertops look great, without the maintenance, and an apron end caps the island. The pantry door mimics the width of the oven housing. Thoughtful details include polished nickel knobs to match the cabinet hardware and a mini can light centered above the floating shelves that directs light through them and transforms dead space into a design feature. 

A. The “modern hearth” is reminiscent of a historical kitchen fireplace design
B. Per principles of feng shui, the cooktop’s mirrored backsplash increases wealth and profusion by reflecting the burners 
C. The wall tile adds texture, brightness, and contrast to dark cabinetry and floors
D. Framed-glass floating shelves offer additional storage and play on the color of the cabinetry
E. LED under-cabinet lighting ensures high energy savings. The LED lights will look great for decades to come
F. The fridge/freezer units are perfectly centered on the sink in the island and on the cooktop hearth, while the oven and pantry door are balanced off to the side 


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