WASHINGTON, DC — In many kitchens, there is often a dilemma about what to do with corners to make them more efficient and functional. However, for designer Kristen Mendoza, right-angle corners were the least of her worries in this project. Instead, the main concern was how to handle all the unusual angles in the oddly shaped kitchen. Additionally, the footprint was complicated by an intersecting peninsula that cut the room in half and obstructed flow.
“My client was so excited to get started,” says the project designer for Four Brothers Design + Build in Washington, DC. “Her goal from the beginning was to have a kitchen where she could entertain. She wanted to have room for guests to walk through and hang out at an island.
“She also wanted a kitchen that was usable for herself,” Mendoza continues. The original kitchen had little storage, as well as limited countertop work space due to the placement of the cooktop and sink.
Starting with a clean slate, the designer offered up several options, with the winning design featuring a cooking wall with range and cabinetry, an appliance/cabinetry wall, an island and a buffet/display area.
The range wall grounds the design and served as a starting point to straighten the bulk of the irregular angles of the original kitchen. Previously, this wall housed the refrigerator and double ovens, the latter of which were angled in an awkward position that mirrored the angled fireplace in the living room behind them.
To align the new wall, Mendoza changed the depths of the wall cabinets that flank the new Miele range and ventilation hood. To the right, their depth is only about 10″. To the left, they are about 20″. Appliance garages beneath the wall cabinets further the aesthetic and give her client concealed storage for small appliances, such as a blender, toaster, etc.
“Varying the depth of the cabinets visually streamlines the wall because now all the cabinets are on the same level,” she explains.
Recessing the wall cabinets and appliance garages also positions them on the same plane as the Carrara marble backsplash to give the design a sleek look. It also preserves plenty of usable countertop workspace atop the standard 24″-deep base cabinets.
“In a way, it also makes the space feel lighter visually, especially with the dark cabinets,” she adds.
Mendoza also gave her client an island, which replaced the peninsula that cut through the center of the room and hindered traffic flow. The island is also useful for entertaining and gives guests a place to gather.
Its Cabico Custom Cabinetry base is sheathed in a Caviar hue that matches the cooking wall cabinetry. The deep plum color contrasts with the white perimeter cabinetry, while the matte finish offers a tactile quality that is ‘soft’ to the touch.
“My client always wanted a dual-tone kitchen,” says the designer. “The island and the range wall are the focal points, so we wanted them to be the darker plum color. The white perimeter is more neutral and offsets it, giving the design more impact.”
The island’s high-contrast polished Carrara marble top also echoes the perimeter and backsplash surfaces. A waterfall edge on one side adds interest and showcases the natural stone’s dramatic veining pattern. Mendoza angled the opposite end to pay homage to the room’s silhouette.
“It isn’t a true rectangle,” she indicates, in reference to the island top. “I was hesitant at first because I didn’t want it to be suggestive of a ’90s kitchen. But in the end, it just made sense to add the angle to align with the exterior wall.”
A Kraus sink with sliding accessories and Bosch paneled dishwasher enhance the island’s functionality, while a Chrome Brizo Artesso articulating faucet mixes with Honey Bronze Top Knobs cabinetry hardware and a Matte Black/Brass Lambert & Fils double pendant to create a mixed metal vibe.
“The island is a perfect representation of my client’s wish to have a kitchen that played with cabinet color, finishes and mixed metals,” Mendoza relates. It also offers plentiful seating, which was important to her client as well.
The appliance/custom cabinetry wall, originally a much smaller pantry with bifold doors and a portion of a closet, addresses the bulk of the homeowner’s storage needs. With regard to appliances, it is home to a built-in JennAir refrigerator, Monogram undercounter wine refrigerator and Miele speed oven. Mendoza finds that speed ovens can be a great addition to kitchens given their relatively petite size and multi-tasking abilities.
“A speed oven is perfect for everyday use because it’s a small oven and a microwave,” she says. “I have clients who use it a lot when they are by themselves. I also have families with kids who use it as much as their main oven. It isn’t huge, but it is large enough to roast a chicken.”
Custom cabinetry includes a tall pantry, which her client uses for cleaning supplies such as her vacuum, brooms, etc. A slender cabinet above the refrigerator features a flip-up door for easy access to contents.
“I always encourage my clients to capture this space above the refrigerator,” she says. “It’s a great place for storing dishes or platters, or even cookbooks, that you don’t use a lot.”
Bi-fold doors above the wine refrigerator conceal a coffee station with a small Carrara marble countertop and shelves for extra storage. Drawers and roll-outs below the adjacent speed oven complement storage above it.
The remaining perimeter features include multiple walls of windows and custom French doors that lead to a newly renovated outdoor patio, which can also be accessed via French doors in the living room.
“Part of the scope of the renovation included the patio space,” she indicates, noting that it sits atop a carport that was also renovated. “Previously, the wood railing was so wobbly that she never went out there. In addition, the flagstone floor wasn’t adequately waterproofed, so some of the joists were rotting. Now she has an inviting space for guests who can circulate between the living room, kitchen and patio.”
Guests are also taken into consideration at the buffet/display area, also reverently called the ‘art wall.’ Its custom white cabinetry stores everything Mendoza’s client needs for entertaining. The Carrara marble countertop can conveniently double as a drink/crudités station and the matching shelf above it can showcase art thanks to the light. ▪
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