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January 03. 2014 2:13PM

Kitchen Renovations

An open kitchen allows for free-flowing main floor

Before and after photos of the kitchen. (Scripps Howard Photos)


Zita, Aras and their three kids live in a beautiful, serene neighborhood. Their bungalow is always party central, with neighborhood children and their parents often coming over to swim or socialize.

But, there was just one problem: Their bungalow's choppy layout meant that while the party was going on in the living room, Zita was segregated in the kitchen while she was preparing food. They were looking for a kitchen that would open up plenty of new possibilities when it came to the recipe for a good party.

This project started as a kitchen reno, but it rapidly expanded to include the living and dining rooms, too. The plan was to knock down two walls, opening up the entire floor to the beautiful backyard view of pool and ravine. The eat-in kitchen area would be removed and replaced with lots of storage cabinets, an oven, microwav, and built-in freezer and fridge. We would relocate the cooktop under the window, and move the sink to a giant peninsula in the center of the kitchen.

Even though we were knocking out the walls between the kitchen and the living and dining rooms, we had to be very careful not to crack the beautiful plaster crown molding in those rooms. The solution was to cut the wall well before it joined the ceiling, leaving a bulkhead that would protect the integrity of the plaster design.

I'm a huge fan of natural stone countertops. In this case, I wanted to install something durable but made from a material that was also timeless and classic. Honed marble was the solution — a beautiful sealed white stone with gray veining was the perfect choice for both counters and backsplash. The marble is complemented by cabinetry in two different tones: oyster for the upper cabinets, contrasted sharply with an ebony oak finish for the lower cabinets. We even painted Zita and Aras' existing wooden hutch in the same oyster color so it would meld with the new cabinetry.

For the dining room, we chose an inviting round walnut-stained table surrounded by five comfortable chairs for family dinners. We also placed four gray leather counter-height stools along the island, providing additional seating between the kitchen and living room.

This open-concept kitchen is absolutely stunning. I didn't want appliances distracting from the impact of the design, so I chose built-in, concealed fridge, freezer and dishwasher units. The professional-grade, in-counter cooktop is positioned right in front of the window, so the chef can sample the view while sampling the broth. The state-of-the-art cooktop even features a concealed fume hood that pops up at the touch of a button.

Zita and Aras' place is the neighborhood hub, and while they both love entertaining, Zita was tired of being cut off from the fun while she worked in her old kitchen. They both wanted an open space that was high in the “wow” factor while also being functional at the same time.

The result? A gorgeous high-impact kitchen that blends seamlessly with the adjoining living and dining rooms. Whether it's dinner for five or cocktails for 15, this space can slip into entertainment mode with a moment's notice. And that's good, because with three kids, parties can pop up at any time.

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