A Man With a Plan
An architect uncramps a small kitchen to create a multiactivity space for family and friends
In a household with growing kids, spending time in the kitchen is all too often a squeeze play. Mom and Dad are colliding with hot baked goods in hand, there's never enough room to sit down, and nobody can open a cupboard door without a box toppling out. That's what finally prompted architect Charles Cook and his wife, Tricia, to remodel the kitchen in their 1920s?Wilmette, Illinois, bungalow. They knew just what they needed: a microwave low enough for their three boys—aged 5, 10, and 13—to reach, a designated area for Tricia to do the baking she enjoys, food-prep counters at different heights (Charles is 6 foot 4; Tricia, 5 foot 4), and a big, storage-packed island where the kids could have a snack or guests could hang out when the couple entertains.
Since the existing kitchen flowed into a larger eating area, Charles's first move was to flip-flop them to take advantage of the bigger space for cabinetry and appliances. Then he widened the footprint by borrowing from an adjacent family room, which was being added on to. He organized work zones by function—a baking center next to the range, for instance, and a sandwich-making area next to the fridge. Where possible, the cherry cabinets were put together in floor-to-ceiling groupings that minimize long runs of countertop and give a more polished, furniturelike look.
"When you design houses for a living, you know how to build in every little thing you've ever wanted," says Charles. "This kitchen's got something—and plenty of room—for everybody."
Creating specialized work areas and a kid-friendly island made
a place for everything (and everyone) in this open-plan.
What They Did
Rearranged and Expanded the Old Kitchen. To enlarge the work area, the locations of the 81?2-by-12-foot kitchen and 12-by-12-foot eating area were swapped, and the footprint was pushed 6 feet into the family room, which was also enlarged.
Put in More Windows. For symmetry and ventilation, a new window was added to the right of the stove to match a reconfigured one on the left. A skylight over the sink lets in more light, offsetting the darkness of the wood cabinetry. Keeping the upper sink wall open creates an interior "window" into the family room.
Gave the Upgraded Appliances a Built-In Look.
Cabinetry panels disguise the Sub-Zero fridge, the dishwasher, and the wine cooler in the eating area. The range is set into a mantel-style surround that conceals the exhaust hood and a spot where the kitchen's exterior wall jogs 18 inches into the room.
Made Multiple Work Stations.
Next to the fridge is a sandwich-making counter 42 inches high for the very tall husband; below it is the kid-height microwave. The baking center, to the left of the range, has a standard 36-inch-high counter, storage for ingredients and bowls below, and a narrow base cabinet for baking sheets right by the oven. In addition, the eating area has a computer desk and a bar for entertaining.
Added a Big Central Island.
The furniturelike island is approximately 4 by 7 feet. It holds a pull-out trash bin, linen and utensil drawers, and open shelves for pots. It also doubles as a casual eating area.
The wine cooler from Sub-Zero was installed at waist height as a convenience for the 6-foot-4 homeowner. To create a more attractive display, the toe grille was covered with cherry paneling; it is vented down to the basement.
Flair follows function in this stylishly equipped, eat-in kitchen.