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Redefining Kitchen Spaces

Written by Karen Marley
Imagery by Matt Wittmeyer Photography

Cupboards, stove, oven, refrigerator, sink and dishwasher – these are the foundational elements of a kitchen. Or are they? The purpose and capabilities of your kitchen are no longer restricted by traditional concepts but more so by innovative thinking inspired by your tastes and lifestyle.

    “Asking the right questions exposes the array of possibilities for a kitchen space,” explains Christine Deragon, Designer with Bright Ideas by Martinec, a residential remodeling and design firm located in Big Flats, New York.
    Who does the cooking? How many people will be in the space? How do you want to feel when you enter the space? What do you love? What bothers you? What type of cooking will dominate? Family meals? Gourmet? Baking? Entertaining? Beverages? Do kids do their homework there? These are the types of questions that reveal lifestyle and personal tastes.
    To really explore a kitchen’s potential, Deragon emphasizes the importance of looking outside the walls to the surrounding areas. Walls can be partially removed and spaces can be repurposed or do dual duty.
    It’s one thing to discuss inspiring kitchen spaces. But what does that look like? Deragon shares two examples:

Vintage Modern
This story starts with a tiny kitchen in a small, beloved bungalow. The kitchen remodel began when the home-owners decided to move the laundry room from the basement to the first floor. But where would it go? Floor space was found in a master bedroom closet adjacent to the kitchen. The former closet space now houses a full-sized stackable washer and dryer, cleverly hidden behind pantry doors seamlessly incorporated into the kitchen.
    For functionality, the homeowners wanted a “cook’s kitchen.” Pull-out cupboards and improved storage allow the homeowners to easily entertain guests in the adjoining, expanded dining room. A shortened countertop peninsula eliminates a squeeze point when grandchildren come over while giving them a space to help cook without being underfoot. Another family member, a large Burnese mountain dog, has space for her oversized dishes near a dedicated dog food storage area.
    Arched valences, subway tiles, and chalky green grooved cupboards retain a vintage, bungalow atmosphere. For older homeowners, light becomes particularly important. Expanded windows for natural light, and recessed and pendant lighting keep things bright and cheerful. A garden window, encased in glass on three sides, brings a little bit of nature indoors.

C’est Très Française
The original kitchen, located inside a beautiful, 1890s Queen Anne Victorian, had been redone in the 60s and was cold, dark, and not at all functional. Additionally, the large home lacked a cozy family space.
    Inspiration for design and functionality came from the homeowners’ places of origin in Southern France and Normandy along with the fact that the entire family loves to cook.
    Additional windows allow the new kitchen to bask in sunlight and provide generous views of the garden. Shallow cabinetry near the windows provides a place for plants and flowers, and  a perch for the cat.
    A walk-through butler’s pantry was converted into a three-fold space. A china cabinet for display and a home office occupy one end. The other is devoted to casual entertaining with a beer tap and wine fridge. A banquette dining area and large pantries provide better function and storage.
    The existing (non-functional) chimney was refaced with brick to achieve a look similar to the brick found in Normandy homes. Fine grained granite counters, acacia hardwood floors, and warm tones in the light wall colors reminisce of Southern France’s sunlit countryside. 

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