Cabinets designed for optimum storage can't do their job without optimum light. Spectacular windows bring in loads of daylight, while three rows of unobtrusive recessed fixtures work the late shift. The recessed lights directly over the sink contain spotlights and provide focused, shadow-free illumination for food prep and cleanup. The other two rows are centered over the “traffic patterns” and contain floodlights for general illumination of the floor and upper cabinets. Pendant lights over the island hang low enough to illuminate the countertop and cooktop, but high enough to avoid shining directly into anyone's eyes.
The kitchen always has been, and always will be, the heart of the home. It's where family members cook, do homework, host dinner parties and go over the highlights of the day. The only thing better than a kitchen that can accommodate all these activities is a kitchen that can accommodate them in a well-organized manner—and be attractive to boot. This kitchen succeeds.
The homeowners wanted a larger kitchen, a larger dining room, a butler's pantry and a dedicated “communication hub”—all without adding on. Something had to give. For this busy Upper Midwest family, the thing that “gave” was the formal living room; in fact, it was eliminated (see illustrations).
“They gave up a room they underused and gained space they'll use every day,” explains designer Pat Undlin. “The new spaces better fit the way they live and entertain.”
Without adding a square inch of space, the design team from Pappas Inc. was able to accommodate the family's love of cooking and entertaining.
Reconfiguring the existing space involved:
- Narrowing the existing living room space and converting it into a spacious formal dining room.
- Extending the kitchen into the old dining room area.
- Adding a butler's pantry and communication hub to space “stolen” from the old living room.
It's impossible to predict what computer and communication equipment will be like in a few years. If you want to be wired for anything, install a distribution box in an out-of-the-way location and run conduit to it so you can swap out wiring and make connections later on as necessary. At a minimum, have your contractor install CAT-5e cable for your phone lines and RG-6 coaxial wire for your cable; they should take care of most future needs.
Continuous electrical strips with outlets spaced every 12 in. are positioned along the back lower edge of the wall cabinets. A valance built into the cabinets helps hide the strips—and the undercabinet lighting—from view, and the close spacing provides power for small appliances wherever they're used.
Behind the simple white doors are hard-working cabinets, each designed for maximum storage, efficiency and utility. Base cabinets with rollout trash and recycling receptacles are positioned next to the sink. The cabinet with the butcher block top at the end of the island has drawers with sliding plastic tops to store snacks and to keep bakery goods fresh. Full-extension glides were used for all the drawers and rollouts to provide complete access to storage spaces.
This high-energy, high-tech family also needed a communication hub near the kitchen for holding computers, charging cell phones and leaving messages. Filing drawers disguised as cabinets, a built-in desk and plenty of counter space for homework are all within whispering distance of the kitchen.
The role of the butler may be long gone, but that of the butler's pantry remains alive and well. The pantry provides a space for staging dishes and making final food preparations close to, but not in, the dining room. It contains nearly 20 sq. ft. of counter space, a wine chiller, under-counter refrigerator for keeping beverages close at hand and a small sink. The dishwasher serves as a backup during large dinner parties.
Glass-front upper cabinets provide a convenient place to store dinnerware while helping give the room an open feel. Pocket doors on both ends of the pantry close off the after-dinner mess and help control “helpful” guests who want to pitch in.
Design it Right: A Zillion Questions Equals the Best Kitchen
Before the designers from Pappas Inc. break out the drawing board, they sit down with the clients and go through a six-page questionnaire. Are they right or left-handed? Do they buy in bulk? Are there special physical or sight considerations? Finding out more about the clients—right down to where they like to store the dog food—helps create a more efficient, user friendly (and user loved) kitchen. To help separate the butler's pantry and communication hub from the adjacent spaces without taking up valuable floor space, pocket doors were used. A special sterling silver drawer in the butler's pantry has a lining and flap made of Pacific Silvercloth, a feltlike material that helps inhibit tarnish and corrosion. The drawers are deep enough to accommodate serving and eating utensils, as well as small pieces like creamers and condiment trays.