Clean, Green, and Affordable Kitchen
Kitchen designer Sandra Fairbank got all of that in just five weeks. Here's how she pulled it off
The last thing that kitchen designer Sandra Fairbank wanted in her remodel was something eyecatching. "I didn't want anyone to come in and say, Look at that range! Look at those granite countertops!" says the amateur chef, who hosts handson cooking demonstrations at her home for friends and colleagues. What she did want was a highly functional backdrop that flowed easily into the adjacent dining room—without breaking the bank. After making do with the existing 1980s kitchen for two years, the Santa Rosa—based designer decided to cut the fat, sacrificing her breakfastnook table and chairs to gain a multipurpose peninsula with a lowered chopping block, an undercounter microwave and recycling center, and stool seating.
To bring the California landscape that she's passionate about indoors, she used natural and green materials, such as slate and cork, whenever possible. She sprang for all new stainless steel appliances from Bosch, but saved by foregoing a prograde range. Five weeks after the first cabinet came out, the remodel was done. Now when the foodie crew assembles for cookingnight demos, there's no more elbowing for counter space.
Transform a classic builder's kitchen into entertaining central.
What She Did
1. Added a Peninsula Starved for food prep surfaces, designer and homeowner Sandra Fairbank gave up her breakfast nook in favor of an irregularly shaped, 6footlong peninsula. A 3footwide dropped butcher block and knife drawers are built right into the unit. One corner is cut on an angle to allow for undercounter seating and to ease traffic flow.
2. Concealed clutter "I like everything put away," says Fairbank, who took advantage of the island to house a microwave, garbage and recycling bins, vegetable baskets, and a deep drawer for cookbook storage.
3. Built in a window seat When the peninsula became the kitchen's focal point, Fairbank decided to take advantage of the nook created by the window bay. She built the Asianinspired cherry bench in her workshop and stained it to match the cabinets.
4. Put in a pull-out pantry A floortoceiling pullout pantry with chrome shelves went in next to the fridge to organize dry goods.
5. Centralized dish cleanup While Fairbank didn't move her fridge, range, or sink, she did reposition the dishwasher to sit under an overhead plate rack and glassware cupboards to make for speedy post-party unloading.
After: Cherry veneer cabinets from Wood-Mode (some with acrylic shoji screen insets), a slatetile backsplash, and a cork floor created the earthy, Pacific Rim look the homeowner wanted.
Tips from Kitchen Designer Sandra Fairbank:
Consider solid surfacing "It doesn't stain, is often cheaper than stone, and comes in a palette of earthy colors—I used Corianï¿½s Flint. Square eased edges give it a slab look."
Customize the height of one work surface
"If you're short or tall, drop or raise a butcher block several inches so you can bear down with your weight while chopping. But don't alter your entire kitchen—it could affect resale value."
Forego window treatments if possible.
"Tiling right up to a window, eliminating the molding, creates a large, open vista of the yard."
Downtoearth design solutions with materials inspired by nature.
1. A window seat, custommade by the homeowner and stained to match the kitchen's cherry cabinetry, fills the existing window bay.
2. The 30-inch appliance garage sits in the corner next to the doublebowl Oliveri stainless steel sink. The rolldown door shuts away the blender, food processor, and coffeebean grinder, which are all plugged into electrical outlets hidden inside.
3. Slate backsplash tiles were cut down from standard 12by12inch squares to 6by12s, a custom size that would have cost Fairbank three times as much. They were laid in a runningbond pattern and run up to the ceiling behind the range to make it look as if it's sitting against a stone wall.
4. Lazy susan shelves built into corner cabinets max out storage in hardtoreach spots.
5. Cork floors are soft and warm on bare feet and provide added protection against breakage. The sustainably harvested natural material doesn't require a separate subfloor (it went right over sheet vinyl here) and, once coated with an acrylic sealer, needs only soapandwater cleanup. Available in rolls or as 1by3foot tongueandgroove tiles, the cost, at $3 to $10 per square foot, matches ceramic and wood flooring. The cork continues into the adjacent dining room.
Where to find it
Sandra Fairbank, CKD
Sonoma Kitchen and Bath,
Snata Rosa, CA
Cherry wood in Cognac by Brookhavn,
a div. of WoodMode fine Custom Cabinetry,
Range and dishwasher:
Huntington Beach, CA
Refrigerator and microwave oven:
St. Joseph, MI
Autumn Slate by Arizona Tile
Hafele Chrome Pantry