Illuminating Ideas for New Kitchen

KITCHEN $51,000 – $100,000 Remodeler and architect: Forward Designers & Builders, Ann Arbor, Mich. Architect and remodeler Jef Forward says that he let conventional design constraints go when it came to remodeling the dark, dreary kitchen in this 62-year-old bungalow in Ann Arbor, Mich. His clients loved their home too much to move on to a brighter future somewhere else.

October 31, 2006

Color variation in the cabinetry, including red and green for those in the kitchen and black for the room divider hutch, defines the separate zones in the new space.
After photos by Gary Easter Photographics

KITCHEN $51,000 – $100,000

Remodeler and architect: Forward Designers & Builders, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Architect and remodeler Jef Forward says that he let conventional design constraints go when it came to remodeling the dark, dreary kitchen in this 62-year-old bungalow in Ann Arbor, Mich. His clients loved their home too much to move on to a brighter future somewhere else.

"They love this house and its location," says Forward, referring to his self-employed clients who both work from home. The problem was that the original kitchen was not conducive to their other passion — entertaining.

The homeowners wanted a larger, more functional kitchen with more seating space, more natural light and better outdoor views, he says — and adding to the house wasn't an option. Forward's solution included removing a divider wall between the kitchen and the breakfast nook; reorganizing the cooking center; redefining primary and secondary storage requirements; and capitalizing on every opportunity to bring natural light into the new space.

Before

One of his most interesting techniques for bringing additional light and circulation into the space was the creation of a custom-built pass-through furniture hutch that serves not only as a physical divider between the kitchen and formal dining room but is uniquely functional for each space. On its kitchen side, the hutch includes a built-in microwave, while on the dining room side, it conceals a flat screen TV. The hutch also includes plenty of storage space, electrical switch controls and glass pass-through cabinets that permit light to filter between the two rooms. The design allowed the owners to gain 12 inches of usable space in the kitchen.

Beyond the wine-tasting island, which contains a built-in chiller, the library-style cookbook rack provides extra storage in formerly underutilized space.

The end result is a spectacular transformation of a dated, compartmented space into a completely reorganized and cheerful cottage-style kitchen that features four distinct zones — cooking center, gathering space, wine tasting area, and service entry — in a single room. Even more incredible is that all of this was accomplished within the existing perimeter of the original kitchen.

"There are lots of very interesting layers to this kitchen," says Forward. His favorite element? "I really love the subtle transition from the dining room into the kitchen created by the hutch. It turned out to be a really unique design solution to a challenging project."

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