1. Fireside Chat
Size: 305 square feet (28.3 square meters); 16½ by 18½ feet (5 by 5.6 meters)
Homeowners’ request. This is designer Mary Ludemann’s personal kitchen. “I wanted to do something different than a large island, which we’ve had numerous times before,” she says. “We have a scullery and prep kitchen, so I didn’t need the extra working and storage space that the typical island provides. Instead, I wanted this kitchen to feel really personal and comfortable and to feel like the large working kitchens of the past, complete with a fireplace where our family, friends and dogs could gather.”
Dining setup. An antique table surrounded by metal chairs. “We love using the antique table, as you just can’t hurt it,” Ludemann says. “If my husband forgets to put a trivet down before he sets down a hot pot, it doesn’t matter. If the kids are coloring and get marker etc. off their paper onto the table, no one cares. It looks great, gives the room character and can take an absolute beating without anyone noticing or caring. So different from my marble countertops or actual dining room table, for instance, where I insist everyone uses placemats or a tablecloth.”
Other special features. Bianco Avion marble countertops with a 5-centimeter eased edge. Of the gas fireplace, Ludemann says, “We turn it on for breakfast and dinner every day from nearly October through March. My kiddos will request it if I’ve forgotten to turn it on, and the dogs love to nap in front of it.” The oversize 36-inch cast iron single-bowl farmhouse sink, Whitehaven by Kohler, is “a must for cooking, cleaning [and] washing babies or dogs,” she says. Ludemann says deciding on the flush-mount lights (there are 18 of them) was one of her scarier moments. “With the shiplap ceiling, there was no way I could go back and change these out later. I am so glad I took the risk, as it looks fantastic and we get compliments all the time.”
Designer secret. “This is a very large kitchen, and I wanted it to be welcoming and cozy despite its size,” Ludemann says. “I also needed it to take a beating and not look it, because of the two large dogs and busy kids who are just at an age where they’re trying out cooking and meal prep on their own. I used reclaimed oak for base cabinets around the sink, dishwasher and garbage pullout, as this is a very highly used area and it’s hard to keep painted cabinets in prime condition in the wet and messy areas. I used painted blue-black cabinets everywhere else, because their slick conversion varnish finish is so easy to wipe down and clean. I kept it light by keeping the walls and ceiling a creamy white, selecting very light oak hardwoods and going lighter with the backsplash. I also used a very dark rug from Currey & Co. that doesn’t show any of the dropped crumbs or dog hair. It adds a wonderful warmth in the winter, and in the summer I roll it up, as I prefer bare floors on your toes.”
“Uh-oh” moment. “Besides trying to accurately lay out all the beams with all the lights — time number three was the golden time — I ended up having to paint the fireplace surround” [seen in the first picture], Ludemann says. “It was supposed to be reclaimed oak as well, and when the paneling was installed, my supplier gave me a combination of reclaimed hardwoods. Some of it was chestnut, and a lot of red oak was mixed in. The red oak almost looked like sunburned skin and did not go with the surrounding white oak hood and base cabinets, so I asked my painter to spray everything in the same Benjamin Moore Midnight Oil color of the other cabinets. I love it. It brought everything together seamlessly and ended up being one of those happy mistakes.”
Table: antique; chairs: Metal Madeleine: RH; rug: Serapi, Currey & Co.; reclaimed-oak hood and base cabinetry: custom; cabinet paint: Midnight Oil, Benjamin Moore; backsplash tile: Gramercy Park in Pipe Smoke with crackle finish, Walker Zanger; drawer pulls and knobs: Boulevard in brass and bronze, Pottery Barn; fireplace: Everest vertical gas, Heat & Glo; 48-inch double-griddle rangetop, steam oven and convection wall oven: Wolf; ceiling paint: custom, similar to Alabaster, Sherwin-Williams; wall paint: China White, Sherwin-Williams; flooring: 5-inch white oak with custom stain and 2K Invisible Protect A.T. by Loba; countertops: Bianco Avion marble; sconces over sink: RH; ceiling lights: 20th C. Factory filament reflector in aged steel with brass socket, RH
2. Lake Lounge
Size: 220 square feet (20.4 square meters); 10 by 20 feet (3 by 6 meters)
Homeowners’ request. Update a lakeside cottage kitchen and give it a “comfortable, breezy and beachy vibe,” designer Emily Griffin says.
Dining setup. “In every country kitchen I design, I try to put a harvest table in the center versus an island,” Griffin says. “I find it is much more conducive to hanging out, and because it is table height, not bar height, people stick around longer.”
Other special features. Serving area and breakfast bar with reclaimed-wood open shelves. Industrial pendants. Two dishwashers.
Designer secret. “A huge win was putting in the big window over the sink to let in more light,” Griffin says.
Wall paint: Oxford White, Benjamin Moore; cabinets: Walden’s Kitchen Centre; countertop: Caesarstone; table: RH; chairs: Crate & Barrel; rug: Ikea; pendant lights: vintage, via The Door Store; sink: Franke; faucet: Perrin & Rowe; window blinds: H Sewing, made with Kravet fabric; cabinet hardware: Upper Canada Hardware; general contractor: Cory Golden of Lakefront Construction
3. Island Intrigue
Size: 320 square feet (29.7 square meters)
Homeowner’s request. A large island for dining, gathering and prepping food.
Dining setup. The large island seats six comfortably and is topped with Eternal Statuario quartz that mimics Calacatta marble. “We wanted the legs of the island to be substantial to balance out the weighted feel of the hood on the opposite side of the kitchen,” designer Jen Harris says. “It also serves to help the island feel more like a piece of dining furniture, rather than a typical kitchen island.” The 1930s-style chairs are meant to “mimic the whimsical chairs of Parisian cafes,” she adds. The slightly darker gray island cabinetry and legs help set the island apart from the white cabinetry and gray walls, and further emphasize the island as a stand-alone piece of dining furniture.
Other special features. Marble tile backsplash. Oversize hood.
Designer’s secret. “The use of similar-size repetitive objects is a design tip that we highly recommend,” Harris says. “Repetition helps catch the eye and add more interest to the area or space being decorated. We also love the use of natural wood objects of different sizes and shapes on the open shelving. This gives the room a more natural and relaxed feel without taking away from the traditional elegance of the kitchen.”
“Uh-oh” moment. “One of the most challenging components in this room was getting the hood to come to life like we had envisioned it in our minds,” Harris says. “The first draft of the hood did not have the weight [and] scale to be the focal point that we wanted. We went back and forth with our contractor and client to find the perfect scale. We soon realized that the missing element was the corbels that would extend from the hood down the wall on each side, framing out the stove. With corbels come fire code requirements, but in the end we were able to find just the right balance, and everybody came out happy with the finished product.”
Counter stools: Riviera, Serena & Lily; paint by Benjamin Moore: Classic Gray (walls), White Dove (cabinets) and Coventry Gray (island); pendant lights: Sculptural Glass Geo, West Elm; kitchen faucet and pot filler: Chesterfield, Newport Brass; backsplash tile: Carrara marble, 4 by 12 inches; dishes: Mercer in white, Crate & Barrel; cabinet pulls: Atlas Homewares
4. Condo Counter
Size: 294 square feet (27.3 square meters); 14 by 21 feet (4.2 by 6.4 meters)
Homeowners’ request. Update the look of the kitchen and dining space while working with the existing cabinetry and Black Marinace granite countertops.
Dining setup. Counter-height dark-stained table with woven grass stools. “My client uses the table often as the place to eat and gather with family and friends,” designer Jenny Sutherland says.
Other special features. Dark gray cabinets (painted in Cyberspace by Sherwin-Williams). Metallic back-painted-glass subway tile backsplash. Exposed ducting.
Designer secret. “I felt that the existing cherry cabinetry did not fit in with the industrial-modern look of the condo,” Sutherland says. “It seemed more formal and traditional-looking in this particular space. Replacing it was out of the budget, so I selected a dark charcoal gray to enhance the stones in the countertop and hired Haven Finishing Studio to apply a seven-step paint process to the cabinets. This finish is highly durable and looks like brand-new cabinetry for a fraction of the price.”
Backsplash tile: Celestial White, Skylight Barre collection, Surfaces; pendant lights: classic glass globes in bronze, Pottery Barn; photography: Ben Perfect Photography
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