The 2013 Design + Build project was centered on a kitchen remodel and living-room addition. Fortunately, this was not our first opportunity to work for the home owner. The original home was built by Jay Eckert Construction in 2000 and while the layout of the existing building was modest, it had several interesting features; including a wraparound deck and a combined kitchen & living great-room with a wood burning stone fireplace and cathedral ceiling.
In 2012 the homeowner contacted us with an interest in rethinking and expanding the original kitchen, while at the same time reworking the main entrance. For the past several years they had lived outside the area, but had kept the original house as a rental and were now looking to return. The old kitchen was too small for their current lifestyle and they sought a new layout with additional cabinets, appliances and a large island / entertaining bar.
Their idea was to expand the kitchen into the generally neglected main entrance. The original layout of the home placed the formal entrance on the far side of a pull through garage. In approaching the home, the garage was clearly visible, but the front door remained largely hidden and unless a deliberate effort was made, it was hard for visitors to recognize. Most guests entered through a sliding glass door that opened into the kitchen. The existing kitchen was functional but also compact. Having the main entry point open into the space heightened the sense of restriction and often left the kitchen feeling crowded.
The design was based on two major elements: an expansion and remodel of the kitchen and an addition that provided a new front entrance and increased living space. In addition, the owners sought to complement the home's rustic location through the use of organic and natural materials. A strong effort was made to integrate the two main spaces through a patterned use of wood, stone and tile.
The new kitchen layout incorporated the space previously occupied by the formal entrance. The additional area allowed for the creation of a large central island with ample work space and a raised seating area for family and guests. A large custom chandelier was designed and built to provide light for the island. Equipped with both standard and color changing LED lights, the chandelier has an M shape (the first letter of the client’s last name). In addition to color and light, the chandelier establishes the island as a focal point and helps to convey its central role as the main work and gathering point.
Expanding the kitchen into the existing entrance allowed space for another important feature: a four foot gas range. The new range now resides in what used to be the old entrance closet. The six burners are vented by a large custom range hood made from stainless steel to match the stove and surrounding countertops.
Both the kitchen and living-room areas make use of a wide range of natural materials. One of the more striking is a red and gold onyx wall tile. The wall tile is arranged in a herringbone pattern and is contrasted against the simplicity of the adjacent stainless steel countertops. The kitchen island makes use of two additional countertop materials. The work area countertop is built from two large pieces of sandstone, while the raised seating counter is mahogany. The kitchen cabinets are red birch with a very simple profile and are contrasted against a red sapelia crown molding. This crown molding traverses the entire circumference of the open kitchen and living room areas and serves to visually unite the two spaces. It is also designed to function as a platform for model trains. Roughly 160 feet long with a tunnel through the stairwell, the crown molding allows for a complete loop of the space and serves to display the owner’s model train collection.
The second major element was the design of a new addition. The new addition worked to provide a new entrance and added living space. Since the space occupied by the old formal entrance was repurposed by the new kitchen design, the owners requested a new more obvious solution. They also sought additional room for a piano.
The goal of the addition design was to fit the context of the existing house, while creating a unique and dramatic entry point. The design makes use of curved and round windows that contrast against the angles of the roof. The roof over the main addition was angled to match the pitch of the existing house, while the roof over the new entrance was given a dramatic 12 in 12 pitch and turned to face the driveway. The entire roof was supported by a custom designed and built curved truss. The truss was made from stainless steel and partially covered with hickory and sapelia to match the interior crown molding.
The design of the new addition also reworked the existing fireplace and its conventional wood burning firebox. The standard rule of thumb for most wood burning fireplaces is that they are roughly rectangular with a height that is proportional to their depth and a slightly larger opening width. The existing firebox was replaced by the highly efficient Rumford. Rumford fireboxes are much shallower and taller than conventional ones and they have angled sides that work to reflect a higher percentage of the fires radiant heat. They also have a narrow throat that improves draw and allows fires to burn hotter and with less smoke. Since the new addition completely enclosed the existing fireplace masonry, the owner expressed an interest in creating a see-through firebox what would improve the aesthetics while helping the existing mass of masonry to feel at home in its new context.
To accomplish this, back to back Rumfords were used and their common back wall was built with two curving openings to match the window and masonry style of the front entrance. The design allows a fire to be built on either side or on both sides, depending on how the living space is being used.
There were several challenges associated with the construction of the project. One of the more note-worthy was the creation of the addition roof. In order to support the tributary ridges, a custom steel truss was fabricated and erected on site. After the framing was complete, the addition was insulated with spray foam insulation and in-floor radiant heat was installed in both the addition and retrofitted to the existing house.
A considerable amount of time was invested in the construction of the kitchen chandelier. The frame was built from LVL and suspended from the ceiling on steel rods. The fame was then clad with hickory trim and two circuits of low voltage LED strip lights (one dimmable, one color changing) where concealed behind the bottom sections of trim. To finish the chandelier, custom cut pieces of textured glass were installed on the bottom followed by identical pieces of mirror along the top edge.
Red Birch Cabinets, Sapelia & Hickory Moldings, Hickory and Ash Flooring, Local Field Stone, Marvin Windows, Cedar Impressions Vinyl Siding, Weathered Wood Shingles, In Floor Radiant Heat, Mahogany, Stainless Steel & Sandstone Countertops, Onyx & Porcelain Tile, Custom Built Stainless Steel Range Hood.