During a question and answer session at a recent industry conference, a home builder asked Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi for his thoughts about the labor
Six Showpiece Kitchens That Maximize Functionality
Practical as well as pretty, these upscale kitchens offer clutter-busting storage solutions and user-friendly layouts.
These kitchens maximize storage, functionality, light and views — and they’re beautiful, too.
This vacation home accommodates a large family, weekend guests and holiday celebrations. The owners wanted their kitchen to be open to the great room — with its wall of glass overlooking a lake — as well as the dining room and porches. The resulting space is relaxed, informal and totally functional. To provide a visual break, the kitchen has a porcelain tile floor that abuts the hardwood flooring in the dining room. The high-gloss wood ceiling gives the room a warm ambiance.
A large island with a prep sink and seating for six is the centerpiece of the room. The custom Douglas fir cabinets have a beaded face frame and a clear-coat, natural finish. The cabinets over the range have an etched pine-tree motif that reflects the name of the property, Piney Point, and is repeated in various places in the home’s interior and exterior.
In addition to numerous built-in display nooks, there is plentiful storage space in the cabinets around the appliances and under the island. Behind a frosted glass door is a large, walk-in pantry that provides more space for storage and food preparation. With fewer cabinets in the kitchen itself, the builder and architect were able to spec oversized windows that give the space a light, airy feel.
Builder: Howell Custom Building Group, Lawrence, Mass.
Architect: Laine M. Jones Design, W. Newbury, Mass.
Photographer: Brian Vanden Brink
After entering this kitchen through a vestibule that showcases beautiful custom glasswork, the first thing you notice are the warm wood cabinets made of straight-grain, quarter-sawn maple with a two-tone dye stain finish. The wood provides a counterpoint to the sea-green granite countertops and glass-tile backsplash. The cabinets and counters stretch along the south wall, pulling the room westward to a sliding glass door and views of the lanai and landscape.
Reclaimed floors made of seven different wood species give the room an expansive, open feel. The wood grain aligns with the angled walls and island. The tile backsplash, which runs full height from counter to ceiling around the window, draws the eye upward to the dramatic, arched ceiling. Lighting at the upper cabinets and soffits further accentuates the ceiling.
Other features include extra storage space, a built-in TV set and a dumbwaiter that services the exterior deck on the second floor.
Location: San Diego
Builder: Charco Construction, San Diego
Architect: Prater Architecture, San Diego
Photographer: Brent Haywood Photography
This contemporary kitchen was remodeled for an avid cook and baker who wanted a larger space with better traffic flow and functionality. Designers Mariette Barsoum and Heidi Marika-Perez of Divine Kitchens removed walls and flipped the location of the existing kitchen and dining room to open up the space and take advantage of lake views at the rear of the home.
The result is a stunning 266-square-foot kitchen, drenched in natural light and designed in sections for different activities (a small vegetable sink for food preparation, an island for cooking and dining, and a baking center across from the oven). The children have storage cubbies that are hidden behind doors when not in use, and there's an oversized blackboard for shopping lists and messages. Appliances are also concealed behind cabinet doors, pocket doors and panels that lift up and out for easy access. Best of all, the island is positioned so that the client can enjoy views of the lake and plenty of sunlight while she cooks.
The tigerwood flooring is the same material that was used in the client's family-room makeover: 5-inch planks with an orange undertone. To break up the expanse of island, it's topped with concrete (stained blue) on the cooking section and wood on the dining section. Cabinets are finished in both natural and dark stains. "We used cherry veneer as well as Shaker style to mix it up," says Barsoum.
The remodel won a Contractor of the Year (COTY) award from the National Association of Remodeling Industries in 2009.
Location: Sutton, Mass.
Builder/designer: Divine Kitchens, Westborough, Mass.
Photographer: Loretta Berardinelli
Design/build firm Streeter & Associates stepped up to the challenge of remodeling this kitchen with minimal impact on the building envelope. The existing kitchen was a compartmentalized space that the owners wanted to open up to take advantage of views to the outside. It was also closed off from the rest of the house. Designer Jeff Lindgren made the new kitchen the center of the home.
Transom windows were added and many of the old windows and doors were replaced. The new kitchen has two walnut islands with 2-inch-thick, site-poured concrete countertops. Their weight required some reinforcing of the existing floor joists and restructuring some joists on the point loads, Lindgren says. The island opposite the 60-inch range has a section of walnut butcher block and serves as a command center for Mom. The second island has a large, 40-inch trough bar sink, trash and recycling bins and a refrigerator/freezer for the kids’ drinks and snacks. The ash wood floor was painted; then the paint was rubbed off to give it a grayish tone. A hand-curved monorail lighting system completes the picture.
“We basically formulated our own definition of transitional in this home,” says Lindgren.
The project included a large walk-in pantry and separate wine bar just off the adjacent hallway, and ample seating and counter space for food preparation, family meals and entertaining.
Builder: Streeter & Associates, Wayzata, Minn.
Designer: Streeter Renovation & Design, Wayzata, Minn.
Photographer: Henke Studio
Golden Eagle Log Homes went all out with this showcase home on a lake in Wisconsin. The kitchen is a show in itself: Solid, knotty alder cabinets with a natural stain are 42 inches tall, staggered in depth, and matched by alder windows.
The island has an antique look with its aged, ebony stain and carved legs. Adding to the impression of timelessness is a piecrust farm sink and an arched, decorative range hood.
Location: Lake Petenwell, Wis.
Builder/designer: Golden Eagle Log Homes, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
Photographer: Golden Eagle Log Homes
A mix of high-tech modern and traditional elements gives the kitchen of this English Tudor style home an edgy, commercial cooking environment that doesn’t feel cold. The stainless steel, separate refrigerator and freezer units and all-in-one sink and counter complement earthy materials such as a gray slate floor, reclaimed wood ceiling beams and dark walnut-stained island cabinetry.
The large island offers maximum functionality with its under-cabinet storage, hidden microwave and vegetable sink. It also has space for counter stolls, creating an informal eating area, and is ideal for multiple cooks or caterers.
A painted brick wall adds subtle texture and a loft-like feel. Instead of upper cabinets, shelves were used to provide easy access to dishes. A large hutch with glass doors fits between the refrigerator and freezer for display and additional storage. Topping it all off is a double-sided stone fireplace that makes the room cozy on chilly days.
Builder: Thompson Custom Homes, Houston
Architect: Robert Dame Designs, Houston
Photographer: Tria Giovan Photography