Knock down the walls, let the view come in |

Knock down the walls, let the view come in

When a client tells me they want to knock down a few walls, they do it with a certain gusto. I see a gleam in their eyes as they envision the expanded living space. I suspect it’s not just about the new space, but also the joy of demolishing what it no longer needed.

This reminds me of my son when he was a toddler. He and I would stack up wood blocks together, but the best part for him was when he got to knock it all down.

This home is located in Lake Wildwood, directly on the lake, yet the kitchen was buried inside the home without a view. A partition wall separated the dining room from the kitchen, or put another way; separated the cook from the guests. The obvious solution was to remove the wall and open up the space.

The wall was removed, but a beam fills the top so that the adjacent dining room coffered ceiling is not disturbed. We saved the hardwood floor and used salvaged flooring from the laundry to patch in the missing sections.

The large utility room was divided into a walk-in pantry and a laundry room. We were able to cut the countertop and install a new wall dividing the space without disturbing the laundry sink. Salvaged cabinets from the kitchen were relocated to the laundry, where they matched the existing cabinets.

What makes this kitchen unique is the placement of two islands, each with a different function. The cabinets of both islands are finished with a rich mahogany stain over alder, which contrasts nicely with the honey maple cabinets on the perimeter of the kitchen. Alder can be a less expensive wood, yet takes stain well and can look nearly identical to cherry. Alder also does not darken with time as cherry wood does.

The island with the raised bar faces the breakfast nook. With two levels, the bar provides seating for two guests and a work surface on the kitchen side. Elegant, wrought iron brackets support the bar and lend a bistro feeling to the breakfast nook.

The cook top island has cantilevered counters for more work surface without bulk. The Viking downdraft controls are built right into the face of the cabinet and the curved grill provides plenty of room for gourmet cooking. Twin rollout spice cabinets flank the cook top and provide plenty of storage for spices and oils.

The granite counters are Golden Sun, which has a wide grain with lots of movement, showing splashes of rust and white quartz. We used a single 3/4-inch thickness for a contemporary look, which is also less costly than laminating a double thickness edge. This type of installation requires trim to cover the plywood support. We installed dark mahogany stained molding for this purpose, which matches the contrasting crown molding and the island cabinets.

The counter-depth refrigerator is a GE Monogram, which fits snugly into the cabinets as a built-in appliance. More than any other fixture, a built-in refrigerator can help disguise the monolithic tower effect of a freestanding unit. A U-Line wine refrigerator is tucked under the peninsula cabinet closest to the dining room for entertaining service.

The pantry door and laundry doors have custom reeded glass that is matched by the cabinets next to the wall oven and also adjacent to the sink. Inserting a bank of glass cabinet doors into this wall of cabinets helped break up the massive look. Matching the cabinet glass to the pantry and laundry room doors provides a simple, yet effective way to bring light into these rooms without opening up the utility spaces to public view. The 1/8-inch reeded glass has a silvery effect which looks great.

The owner’s did a Venetian plaster finish that brings an old world flavor tempering to the new kitchen. Swirls of color with a variable patina cover the wall with a rich luminance so refreshing when compared to ubiquitous drywall.

Any handcrafted texture is superior to a machine finish in my book, but craftsmen are becoming fewer in today’s world. As our workforce ages we need to create opportunities for the younger generation to gain skills in the building industry.


Andrew Wright, CR is a 2004 Contractor of the Year award winning remodeler and a member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and the National Kitchen & Bath Association. He may be reached at WrightBuilt Home Remodel & Design at 272-6657.

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