Creating a ‘swan’ kitchen |

Creating a ‘swan’ kitchen

The very first thing you notice when stepping into Marc and Rebecca Charvoz’s hilltop home is the incredible 360-degree view. There are tree-covered slopes and green valleys wherever you look – truly a picture-postcard scene.

Today, a bright, airy inviting new kitchen complements the delightful scenery and pulls the view in from almost every vantage point.

It took many months of planning, designing and building to create this swan kitchen from the ugly duckling space it once was. Lots of dark wood trim, view-blocking heavily grained cabinetry, bright blue tile counters and a busily patterned kitchen carpet were just some of the visual problems that needed to be resolved. But even more important was improving the basic layout and design. The kitchen and the adjoining spaces just did not work for this growing family with three active boys.

To achieve more of a “great room” feeling, a small and little-used living room located off the kitchen was redefined as the main dining area, with room to spread out, if need be. Retaining the fireplace allowed a cozy sitting area that could be accessed for use during those large holiday gatherings.

Because the floor stepped up from this area into the kitchen, we couldn’t easily create a larger kitchen space but we could absorb the present informal dining area to the left of the kitchen since other dining spaces had been designated – the new dining area and a nook by the kitchen’s corner windows.

This side of the kitchen now houses an oversized pantry with lots of roll-out shelves, the refrigerator and stacks of deep drawers.

By pulling the pantry and refrigerator cabinets out to a depth of 30 inches, the refrigerator achieves a built-in look without the built-in price.

Above the corner angled base cabinet, there is a microwave oven with a generous appliance garage below it. “The appliance garage holds five small appliances,” says Rebecca. “They’re plugged in and ready to use but completely out of sight. And the extra deep counters make a huge difference in counter space.”

A large window positioned over the prep sink captures the back-yard view. A favored wood chopping block salvaged from the old kitchen was set into the counter conveniently between the prep sink and the range. The family uses it every day.

Marc and Rebecca decided to replace the corner windows to the far right (past the range) with taller ones to let in more light and create a breakfast nook with a built-in benches.

As the new windows were the same width as the old ones, replacing the support headers was not required.

“We’re so happy to have the view there, overlooking Banner Mountain and into town. And there’s even extra storage drawers below, under the benches.” notes Rebecca. A decorative hutch visually balances the other end of the nook area and displays some of the Charvoz family collectibles.

Another section of glass display cabinets is suspended over the central island, flanked by fluted columns, a decorative element also found on the clipped corners of the hutch. The upper cabinets were designed high enough so as to not block the view.

A raised counter on the dining room side of the island forms a natural buffet area, as well as providing handy storage for the new dining area.

The island’s position in the kitchen allows for complete circulation, with plenty of passing room.

Color choice was a major consideration, and the phrase “anything but blue!” was heard more than once. The family settled on a soft neutral color scheme that blended well with the birch cabinets and flooring and the more colorful granite counters.

An “eyebrow” of rich terra-cotta red paint rims the ceiling and lends just the right touch of elegance.


Karen Austin, certified kitchen designer and home economist, has designed area kitchens since 1983. You can reach her at Creative Kitchens and Baths, 272-4963.

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