Worth The Wait


A little delay fine-tunes this kitchen’s makeover

IT CAME AS NO SURPRISE. When Rebecca Jessen’s clients, a young couple in their mid-30s, moved into their 1970s Bay Ho split-level home and saw the completely enclosed, traditional-style kitchen, with typical brown backless cabinets hung on the wall, ceramic tile counters and floors, fluorescent lighting and an 8-foot ceiling, they wanted to update the space right away.

The surprise came when Jessen told them, “Not now.” She said it would be prudent if they lived in the house for a bit to figure out how the space would work best for them.

Good advice. About eight months later, they knew exactly what they wanted to do. They took all the walls away so that the whole level opened up into one space. They took all the upper cabinets away, too, opting instead for two sidewalls to house storage and appliances. They upped the ceiling to 9 feet, added two skylights and traded in the plastic fluorescents for accent pendant and task recessed-can lights. The flooring was switched out to prefinished maple and an island was installed, which became the main functional area.

“The highlight of the room is the island’s granite,” says Jessen. “That was the homeowner’s assignment. I told them to go look for the granite and have fun with it and they came back with Tortuga granite that has blacks, greys, golds, creams, oranges, green and even some blue in it. I based everything in the kitchen on that.”

To anchor the strong granite, Jessen painted the island base a charcoal color. “If the base was white, it wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive,” she says. 

“I kicked up the kitchen with a strong, green wall. This green, called Twine, is a very saturated green, so it can stand up on its own to anchor that end of the kitchen. The green mimics the color in the granite, plus it’s an inside/outside color,” she says. “When you look through the dining and living areas there are big windows looking straight outside to a cul de sac. All you see is green. The green wall echoes what you see on the other side of the house, so it has good balance.”

Photo Caption: By treating existing windows with an architectural element, they became a design feature in this contemporary kitchen redo. A computer station, wall cabinetry with full-extension roll-out shelving and roll-top cabinets on either side of the sink are all part of what makes this a highly functional kitchen. 

Kitchens/Baths: By Eva Ditler Photography by Conrad Young

Categories: Home Design