The Heart of the Home – Part 1

Remodeling & Design / Sunday, February 1st, 2015

The kitchen is the heart of almost any modern American home – and by “modern,” I mean built since the dawn of the 20th century. Even in those houses where it is tucked off to the side, out of the way and seemingly disconnected from the intended living spaces, the kitchen is where folks tend to gather.

In our mid-century ranch, this is where we started:

photoNot a horrible kitchen. Homey, well used, and well loved. But not at all consistent with Debra’s vision for the house. Here is a view looking from the library toward the breakfast area and the doors leading to the garage and laundry room:

6844 Brants 007
We had already removed the top of the island.

We are coffee drinkers. Since this kitchen had the space, Debra wanted to use the wall on the left side of the picture, above, for a plumbed and wired coffee bar, so that went into the plan.

We wanted to maintain the basic U-configuration of the cabinetry, but we also wanted to open the kitchen up to the family room on one side and the library on the other. Debra came up with a plan that did just that, while increasing counter work space. It involved extending the left side of the U, shifting the sink and the dishwasher to the bottom of the U, and replacing the separate cooktop and ovens with a dual-oven drop-in range placed into the corner.

New cabinets with corner space for drop-in range
New cabinets with corner space for drop-in range

Notice how the lower cabinets are mostly large drawers and the narrow spaces for baking sheets on either side of the oven. The open space to the left of the oven opening is for the dishwasher; the sink will go to the left of that. A new hood will go above the range and be vented through the roof.

Now, from this vantage point, turn 180 degrees and take a look at the new pantry and the space for the refrigerator.

Fridge space and pantry - coffee bar area to the right
Fridge space and pantry – coffee bar area to the right

It bears mentioning that this house was on a pier and beam foundation, which facilitated the new plumbing for the coffee bar and shifting of the dishwasher. This renovation would have been far more difficult and expensive if we’d had to jackhammer a slab.

Here is the same area after construction and shortly before completion:

Kitchen after 004The refrigerator is a Kitchen Aid panel-ready, french-door model with a bottom drawer freezer compartment. The millwork carpenter who built the cabinets also made the panels for the doors. Wire-basket drawers were installed on the shelves in the pantry.

Debra designed the coffee bar to have the appearance of a piece of furniture, although it was fully plumbed, wired, and attached to the wall. The coffee maker had a direct water supply, so we didn’t have to measure and pour water. It did not grind the beans but was fully programmable otherwise. Punch a button after you load your custom-ground beans and the coffee is ready whenever you want it to be in the morning.

You can see the faucet for the bar sink to the right of the coffee machine but can’t see the insta-hot water dispenser for tea or hot chocolate, etc. There was also a milk frother for lattes – a particular favorite of Debra’s. On the far end of the coffee bar is the drawer microwave.

The colors, by the way, are Benjamin Moore again. Berkshire Beige on the cabinets; Going to the Chapel on the walls.

Next time – more of the the finished kitchen that really was the heart of this home.

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