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WRITTEN BY CARINA LANGSTRAAT
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MIKE SIEGEL
|Tales of Two Kitchens
There's no sense going halfway when remodeling the most important room in the house
If you belong to the second group, it's likely that during a remodeling process, more thought will be put into the kitchen than any other room - the kind of attention that resulted in these two kitchens, created from very different spirits, in very different styles, by very committed homeowners.
They settled on a two-story rambler built in the mid-'80s and screaming with sugary excess. Multicolored checkerboard tiles in the kitchen vibrated against mirrored backsplashes and ornate faux floral walls, creating a sense of nervousness in those brave enough to attempt a culinary exercise beyond boiling water. "As much as we disliked the house, and especially the kitchen," says Lisa Green, "we wanted to live in it for a year to figure out how to make the most of the space we had to work with."
In 1998, with preliminary plans in hand, the Greens temporarily relocated their kitchen to a tiny corner of their pool room and hired JC Enterprises Construction of Bellevue to begin construction. "I used an 8-foot-long card table, a toaster oven and paper plates when I needed to get dinner on the table. Dishes got washed in the shower. It was hard, but I really wanted to stay in the house while the remodel was taking place because I wanted to have input on all the details."
By that time the Greens had developed a better idea of what they wanted throughout the house. Topping the list were flow, varying textures that quietly complemented one another, a fireplace to add to the kitchen atmosphere and a relaxed open feel. Architect Tim Carlander of Vandeventer and Carlander Architects, Seattle, helped them make these things come to fruition in the entry, dining and living-room areas and Leslie O'Connor of International Kitchens teamed up with Lisa to figure out the kitchen. "I knew I wanted a nonstatic, comfortable kitchen that was laid out to suit the way I work," Lisa says.
"The most common mistake people make when designing their own kitchen is putting work stations too close together," says O'Connor. "Also, most people think the oven needs to be directly next to the cook top. If you really think about the order of a meal, it can work to your advantage to have the cook top and stove somewhat separate."
It's safe to say this kitchen addresses all of a cook's need for comfort and convenience. A pasta faucet is located directly behind the gas stove and extends out on a long arm strategically located just above the cauldron of your choosing. No more burning deltoids as you squish your shoulders into your neck staggering from stove to sink under the weight of 50 pounds of water.
Outlets are cleverly hidden under cabinets instead of in the backsplash, allowing for smooth, finished tile work. The Sub-Zero refrigerator is just that: all refrigerator. Freezing needs were addressed by installing a full freezer in an adjacent pantry and an independent ice maker opposite the refrigerator in the center island. An extra deep English single sink faucet makes washing breakables less stressful.
On the practical side, figuring out how to make all this comfort and convenience happen is not easy. "If you're planning a kitchen and see something you like in a magazine or at a friend's house, be aware that including all those extras can be a complicated and sometimes expensive process," says Carl Hurtt of JC Enterprises. For example, putting an ice maker in a center island is a great idea, Hurtt says, but don't forget the additional plumbing you'll need.
Yes, they were able to include a fireplace. It is not actually in the kitchen but can be enjoyed from the kitchen as a result of the open connection to an entry sitting area. "I love it," Lisa says. "I use it every morning from October to May."
Was the remodel a success?
"Yes," she says. "Before, it was just a house we lived in; now it's home." She must be sincere because her kids recently changed schools - and the commute is back to 45 minutes.
"Kim was invaluable in helping us lay out the kitchen. We knew we wanted it to look like a room filled with interesting pieces of furniture," Penta says. "The idea was to have a vignette here and another vignette over there, all working together to form a subtle composition."
The sink, for example, is custom-welded stainless steel with smooth, seamless curves that transition from the basin into several feet of usable space on each side. A movable oval island in the center of the kitchen responds to the sink's graceful oval knock-out, creating the feeling of limitless lay-down area and serving as a second work station. Good friend and craftsman Bruce Ruge built a free-standing oak cabinet with a cool marble top that serves as yet a third work station and provides the perfect area to roll out dough.
Rather than being tucked under a counter, the dishwasher is elevated, making loading and unloading an ergonomically comfortable experience.
Appliances? You bet - and not just the ordinary new-millennium stuff. A 1950 Wedgwood stove they located via the classifieds, drove to Mount Vernon in the sleet and snow to buy, then dropped off in Skykomish to have restored.
"Both those ideas were Joanie and Jan's," Clements says. "It was a spectacular collaboration in that they were not only willing to try on different ideas that I brought to the table, but brought a myriad of their own ideas. I liked that stove so much I started perusing the classifieds for one of my own."
The kitchen cabinets are a series of open shelves, glass-paneled doors and doors and drawers that are perfectly flush to the body of the cabinet when closed - all details, but details that allow a true craftsman carpenter to really show his stuff. The owners found antique light fixtures at Johnson & Johnson Antiques in Greenwood. The tile-pattern choice for the backsplash was a classic offset brick pattern in smooth white ceramic - again clean, simple and historically sensitive.
"Of all the kitchens I've worked on, this is definitely one of my favorites," Clements says, "not because we had the freedom to do anything we wanted in terms of budget, but because it reflects all of our personalities. It's quirky, spirited and classy all at the same time."
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