A fresh kitchen facelift
Every home renovation has its ‘moment of truth’—a pivotal feature that helps decide everything else. In this classic country update, the turning point came not with the style of cabinets or the choice of paint colour, but instead with the NFL season opener.
The kitchen’s owners, Jacqueline Howe and her husband, Gavan, share the cooking in their family of five, and Gavan often combines two passions, preparing Sunday dinners while he watches afternoon football. So when editor Erin McLaughlin, who aided the design process, suggested relocating the range away from the peninsula facing the family room—and the large-screen TV—some, er, delicate negotiation was required.
The idea made good design sense: The existing cooktop was visible from both family room and adjacent dining room—along with the chaos of cookpots, dishes and splashes. As well, Erin wanted to organize the kitchen layout around a single focal point, and she and the couple had agreed that should be the six-burner, double-oven stainless steel Viking range. So, with figurative fingers crossed, they resolutely moved the range to the kitchen’s interior wall, and extended the wall 12 inches to further define the 9-by-14-foot kitchen area—a minor enhancement that caused friends to query, "Did you add more space?"
Now, the messes are hidden from view and the range is just steps away from the sink and fridge. But what about the game? Erin’s simple compromise makes it work for Gavan: a small flat-screen TV mounted on the wall just to the left of the range.
Visually, the kitchen endorses the modern leaning to clean lines while relating back to the home’s many traditional features. A backsplash of creamy hand-thrown tiles with a hint of blue-grey ties in with the family room’s fieldstone fireplace. In addition, it forms a seamless backdrop to the creamy white cabinetry custom-made by Whipple Tree Kitchens. A bank of upper cabinets features a glass-front cabinet over the sink with leaded panes to tie in with traditional detailing in the house, while the glass, and the stemware behind it, adds light.
The microwave tucks away behind retractable doors beneath the counter, and panelled doors hide the fridge and wine cooler. A framed herringbone pattern inset in the tile backsplash over the stove is a subtle addition to the focal point, and glass pendant fixtures are traditional in shape but modern in their simplicity. "We wanted to add interest without distracting from the clean lines," Jacqueline says.
Each functional detail aids daily use: An angled counter and bank of drawers (including a shallow spice drawer) allow for a wider entrance to the kitchen; easy-access drawers replaced lower cupboards and deep pot drawers flank the stove; a pot-filler faucet juts over the back burner and glasses are stored above the sink.
Taking the uppers almost to the ceiling and topping them with cornice mouldings makes use of the room’s vertical space. The natural look of polished limestone counters also picks up on the hues of the fieldstone; they’ll develop a patina with use. The choice of an oversized double sink required the addition of an inch-and-a-half to the depth of the counter along one side of the kitchen. "It’s one of those irregular details that keeps the space human," Erin notes.
Has the revitalized kitchen changed the way the couple cooks? "We like to cook together," Jacqueline says, "and you can comfortably have two people here. I love the placement of the appliances—and I like having counter space on both sides of the stove." She has noticed another positive result of the renovation. "My 17-year-old son has started serving up breakfast on Sunday mornings,” she says. “So maybe we’ve inspired him."