Organically Inclined - Kitchen Remodel

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The clients, both organic cooks, wanted a kitchen for their Washington home that nourished their desire to create meals using homegrown ingredients. From a functional point of view, this required more space. Aesthetically, they wanted a look that represented their nature-based perspectives. An avid cook himself, Jonas Carnemark, president of Carnemark Systems & Design, knew that...

February 01, 2007

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The View from Behind Bars

The island's shapes, proportions and materials make it stand out. The shroud features a bamboo pattern, with thin lines, a heady contrast to the contemporary shape of the green glass and stainless steel canopy hood fan.
After photos by Maxwell McKenzie

The clients, both organic cooks, wanted a kitchen for their Washington home that nourished their desire to create meals using homegrown ingredients. From a functional point of view, this required more space. Aesthetically, they wanted a look that represented their nature-based perspectives.

An avid cook himself, Jonas Carnemark, president of Carnemark Systems & Design, knew that all serious cooks have a place in the kitchen — usually the sink or stove — where they most like to orient themselves. "While most people like to sit at the sink and look out the window, I knew these clients, like a lot of real cooks, spent most of their time at the stove, so I tailored the views to how they orient themselves in the kitchen, to being at an island where you can see the entire back yard," he says.

His design removed all of the mechanics and cabinetry that ran along the kitchen's north wall, and he also reoriented a powder room that was anchored at the northeast corner. The kitchen's north wall then became a series of 2-feet-high windows that evoke a conservatory-type feel, providing a panoramic view of the lush garden. A cooks' island in the center of the kitchen gives the clients a straight-on view of the back yard.

Natural and minimally compromised materials— concrete countertops, cork flooring and maple cabinetry — are used throughout the kitchen to reflect the clients' sensibilities. A furniture approach, whereby none of the wall cabinets touch the ceiling or floor, guides the design of the new cabinetry, giving the clients the space and volume they desired.

This "demi-tall" cabinet height also allowed for more expansive backsplashes and quirky, personalized touches, such as the small window at the northwest corner that gives the homeowners a view of a mature Japanese maple tree that they were unable to see from the original kitchen.

The concrete sink for herbs incrementally increases from 2- to 4-inches deep.

Carnemark believes designing kitchens with definitive storage (a stainless steel garage houses the microwave and other countertop appliances); food preparation areas; and cleaning and entertaining zones helps program and orient people to the space.

"In design, you want to create spaces with feelings, not just walls," he says. "Shapes like the canopy hood help frame the island and delineate that space — the curvatures of the shroud creates a psychological definition of space. And when you're entertaining, you don't have to do that awkward square dance when you need to get by people. The kitchen is both inviting, but it can also keep people at bay when you're working."

Part of a larger whole-house project, the $190,000, 404-square-foot kitchen represents approximately 25 weeks of work time.

 

Before

Kitchen Remodel

REMODELER AND ARCHITECT: Carnemark Systems & Design, Bethesda, Md.
PROJECT LOCATION: Washington, D.C.
AGE OF HOME: 70-year-old brick colonial
SCOPE OF WORK: Reorganization of kitchen to gain elbow room and entertainment space; a 70-foot addition and relocation of an adjoining powder room to gain 45 square feet


Products List

Appliances: Bosch, Sub-Zero, Wolf  Cabinets: Siematic  Doors & Windows: Andersen  Faucets: Grohe  Flooring: Expanko  Lighting: Lightolier  Paints & Stains: Benjamin Moore  Sinks: Franke


The View from Behind Bars

The reoriented kitchen allows an unobstructed view of the back yard and garden while cooking at the island.

In the old kitchen, the horizontal rail of a basement entry that ran parallel to the kitchen's north wall impeded the clients' admiration of their expansive, mature garden. Beyond barring the view of their garden, the basement entry also left an awkward and unnatural negotiation between the spaces; to get to the garden from the kitchen, the clients had to first step down into the basement stairwell and then step up into the garden.

Relocating the powder room to behind the kitchen's south wall and pouring a below-grade floating concrete slab under the northeast corner of the addition gave Carnemark the opportunity to move the basement stairway to the west side of the home. Carnemark then regraded the yard to bring it level with the exterior door, hauling four truckloads of dirt away from the site to create a standard 4-inch short step onto the terrace from the kitchen.

In the end, the existing basement access remains (the new entryway runs underneath the kitchen rather than parallel to it), the clients gained storage space in the old stairwell space and the island has plumbing from shared lines with the powder room. And, most importantly, the clients got a more gracious entry into the yard.

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