Designer, Anthony Anderson of MAK Design+Build describes in detail the process of this project and how the team worked to achieve the homeowner’s needs, goals and more.
The vision/need the homeowner wanted for just this room and the overall theme. What wasn’t working for them? And what things did they, or you, feel could solve the problems? What goes on in this space?
The existing kitchen was too small for their needs and too isolated from other common area rooms. The project was designed to allow the home to host large groups of traveling cyclists who come to the area for training and events. By relocating the kitchen in a new addition, we were able to accommodate larger appliances, improve communication with other areas, and create sightlines to the expansive yard.
Special feature: The decision to include the stained glass window over the sink. What is it made of? How was it installed?
The homeowners are avid cyclist and are friends with a fellow cyclist who happens to be an accomplished and well known glass artist. He was happy to provide art glass for the project. The insulated, tempered glass panel over the sink incorporates etched glass, stained glass, large glass jewels, and various other materials. The key central portion of the panel was intended to be reminiscent of a bicycle, which you can see upon close inspection, but the colors, shapes, and arrangement was designed to be at home in a mid-century setting while evoking the work of Alexander Calder, among others. It was installed like a typical field-built window/architectural glass.
Special elements and materials that make this room or area stand out and function well. How is storage handled? What about light, function, and atmosphere?
Special: The massive Blue Star range is quite the show-stopper, even though as described below, we elected to give it a modest location. Adequate ventilation for that range is a major concern, so we elected to create a simple, but custom hood to keep the space feeling warm and decidedly non-industrial. Custom egg divots were routed into the stone counter tops to allow eggs to gather near the stove and sink without rolling away when cooking for a crowd.
Storage: In order to reduce upper cabinetry but handle the significant storage requirements, a hidden-door pantry was paneled into a 52 sq. ft. rectangle dividing the kitchen from the living room. Our intention, driven by the homeowner’s desire, was that visitors to the home would likely not notice there was a large pantry with an additional prep sink hiding in the walls.
Light, Function, Atmosphere: Since there is more dramatic lighting in other areas nearby, we chose to keep the kitchen lighting unobtrusive and simple. In addition to the massive daylighting harvested by the expansive glass surrounding it, the kitchen is lit with a few (4 total) recessed LEDs and a strip of LED under-cabinet lights next to the sink. The exhaust hood of course has its own light as well. Function, as described above, is straightforward, but was intended to accommodate regular gatherings of larger groups. This is reflected in large volume of perishable and non-perishable storage accomplished with the refrigerators and pantry. The design intent of the atmosphere was to create a space with a firm footing in the modern and unique needs of the users while preserving palpable ties to the original era of this 2nd generation family home. The visual vernacular couldn’t be too atomic or stark – it needed to be warmer, less precious, and clearly at home in the past.
Why the design works: Design approach and why it worked for this particular space and how. What was unique about the space and the design plan that helped it all come together?
Our design approach is very collaborative. Being very familiar with the space (it was the homeowner’s childhood home) and very involved in the design process, the owners were able to convey their vision and specifically identify sightlines to the yard that were important to create/preserve. This interactive input meant a small wall we originally planned to include in the project to facilitate ductwork was eventually designed out of the final plan. This specific and complicated hurdle provided the impetus for a solution that ended up opening the circulation around the kitchen in a far superior manner.
Unique Solutions: While it was important to improve connections to adjacent rooms, we did not want the massive appliances (which included 72” of refrigeration and a 48” gas range) to dominate the space. Additionally, in ranch houses of this era and style in our market, kitchens were often partially cloistered from the expansive open plans that surrounded them. In order to preserve this feeling of connection without flooding sightlines from connected spaces with stainless steel, we created a fairly straightforward galley kitchen with the refrigeration and range facing inward. The refrigeration house was designed to stop short of the ceiling which provided a sense of connection and allowed us to share light by not interrupting the expansive architectural (clerestory) glass above.
Designer secret: What was an addition/contribution/decision that made this room a success? Or what is a decorating tip or trick that you employed in this space that others might be able to use in their space?
When finding or creating moments, restraint is important. Not every surface or feature has to sing or rise to the foreground, especially when you are incorporating something as dramatic as this stained glass window. The hidden pantry here really helps reiterate that less is usually more. Additionally, when we were seeking some lighter finishes to contrast/brighten the walnut cabinetry, we let the massing of the building’s interior inform the material’s borders. In this case using the anigre panels around the pantry meant planes and surfaces had logical and harmonious transitions while affording the room a more balanced value range.
“Uh-oh” moment: This is a really important one. Moments during the design or implementation when you or the homeowner thought, “What did I get myself into?” Or “How the heck am I going to solve this problem?” And what helped push the project forward?
I have a couple thoughts here:
By far, the biggest challenge in this style home is HVAC. Re-routing ducts and cleverly distributing air to additions in open floorplans without the benefit of an attic or a crawlspace is always a challenge. Once we’ve conceptually removed all the floor to ceiling barriers at the intersection of the main common rooms (Kitchen Living and Family) we have the uncomfortable realization that we have to move conditioned air from the middle of the house out to this new addition and it’s adjacent spaces. In this case, supply air was carefully planned in coordination with our HVAC sub and ultimately, custom ducting was designed and fabricated to run down the core of the house hidden in a double wide hallway wall and then distributed through hollow “headers” across rooms. This allowed us to omit clumsy drop soffits and preserve the open feeling of the space with a few logical but minimal transitions between rooms.
During a routine quality control check for cabinetry (well into construction) we discovered the refrigerator location was not going to allow the freezer door to swing fully open, because this particular model required a min. of 17” clearance from an adjacent wall. We shuffled some things around and decided on a narrow pull-out pantry next to the refrigerators, a revised counter length, and a minor expansion towards the dining area to make up the difference. In the end, it worked perfectly, but only after we recovered from the initial panic of catching that oversight mid-construction.
The real Uh-oh occurred when the glaziers who were creating the insulated glass assemblies from the art glass (necessary for our climate and energy code) accidentally destroyed one large panel of etched glass. Thankfully the artist was able to recreate the work on thicker glass which was eventually insulated and transported without incident.
Also on the team that made this project possible:
Interior Specialist: Kristen Gong, MAK Design+Build
Project Management: Ken Kirsch, Matt Karnatz and Chris Kiesz, MAK Design+Build
Structural: Mark Pemberton, Pemberton Engineering, Davis, CA
Custom Woodworking, Keith Kesser, Summit Woodworks, Davis, CA
Glass Art: Tom Medlicott, Redlands, CA
HVAC: Roger Kilby, CA Energy Services, El Dorado Hills, CA
Photography: Dave Adams, Dave Adams Photography, Winters, CA