RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Though cooking may be continuous, it’s not the only creative process that happens in the hub of the home. When starting from scratch, a kitchen’s design and layout require a great deal of thought and consideration, especially when space is at a premium and a major remodel is part of the plan. That was the case for a young family living in the Scottish seaside town of North Berwick.For their waterfront apartment in a traditional, stone-built Victorian villa from the late 1880s, the homeowners hired Alison Howard, a designer with the Gullane, Scotland-based design firm Christopher Howard. “We are designers and makers who specialize in custom kitchens and interiors for the home,” says Howard of the firm. “We love to design with flair and imagination and hope our showroom, attention to detail, and enthusiasm is inspirational to people.”
With this project, patience and compromise were key. The couple, who like to entertain, decided to reside in the home for three years, planning the alterations over time before the work was done. In the end, an old addition and a conservatory behind the former kitchen area were demolished to make way for the current configuration. One important stipulation was that the new space would have to reflect two different tastes. The husband wanted a contemporary kitchen, but the wife preferred a more traditional style. The end result, says Howard, was designed as a compromise: a modern look, but traditionally made.Custom cabinetry, painted in Railings by Farrow & Ball, let them maximize every inch of the tight space while Corian countertops accommodate the unusual shape with no visible joints. The Glacier White countertops that incorporate a molded sink provide a dramatic contrast to the deep-gray cabinetry. Walls were done in Johnstone’s Trade White and the glass backsplash behind the gas stove features a slightly off-white finish. Italian ceramic tiles cover the floor.A combination of black-glass and stainless-steel appliances was intentional. “We did not want to use all stainless steel as this would have been too harsh, and we wanted attention to be drawn to the cabinetry and countertops rather than the appliances,” says Howard. “The steel elements of them, however, tie in with the spiral staircase.”The kitchen measures fifteen feet three inches by fourteen feet nine inches, and the space beyond the spiral staircase measures thirteen feet by nine feet three inches. “This gave the option to have the table in the body of the kitchen or beyond at the window for the sea view,” says Howard. “It also gave them the flexibility of adding in a kitchen island at a later date as the table fits easily in the space beyond the staircase.”
A mix of appliances keeps the focus on the handsome cabinets that were built to provide plenty of storage in this fully renovated, custom kitchen. The stylish environment blends the contemporary tastes of the husband with the traditional design preferences of the wife for a happy outcome.
Special OrderIf your kitchen has a unique shape or is short on space, customization may be the way to go. The flexibility of tailor-made cabinetry allows a designer to maximize every corner and utilize height and depth, so even if it is more costly than ready-made styles, Howard says it is money well spent.In this design, cabinets feature varying depths and widths in order to accommodate the angled walls without any gaps or filler spaces. By using a custom service, the clients were able to work out the details at the design stage as to how the space would be used and where everything should go.Because many appliances were included in the design, clever storage was a must. Howard included a tall pull-out pantry beside the oven and a short one for spices and bottles near the stove. Other smart solutions include a curved end cabinet, an under-the-counter refrigerator for everyday items, and a full-size refrigerator-freezer in the utility closet.Although the spiral staircase that leads to a rooftop deck was an online purchase, it could easily pass for a custom piece. Other unique features include a series of closets around the eat-in kitchen that offer plenty of storage; one houses laundry and another holds the husband’s motor bike. “There is an outside doorway on the driveway he can open to drive the bike in, and then he can exit out of the [closet] into the hallway—Batman style,” says Howard.Despite the challenges of the uniquely shaped space and its varying angles, a 3-D design plan let the homeowners know what to expect ahead of time. Howard married the homeowners’ styles with the necessary functions of a kitchen, and the clients were delighted with the way their kitchen turned out in the end: with a modern look, but traditionally made.