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For The Home

A Kitchen Goes From Drab to Fab

Author: Nancy Erdmann
Issue: August, 2013, Page 88
Photos by Garrett Cook

Once dark and narrow, this newly renovated kitchen features top-of-the-line appliances, a quiet color scheme and easy-care materials.



A Savvy Homeowner Turns a Dreary Room Into a Low-Maintenance, Light-Filled Kitchen

Getting the details righT is something Louise McDermott Cummings knows well. Although not a designer by trade, the Paradise Valley, Arizona, resident has renovated some 30 homes, including her current residence near the foot of Camelback Mountain. Purchased in 2010, the 1955 house had a tiny, narrow, dark kitchen with an 8-foot-high ceiling. As part of a whole-house renovation, it underwent a complete transformation.

Cummings wanted to open up and reconfigure the space, so she removed everything, including a wall that separated the kitchen from the common areas, and raised the ceiling to 10 feet high. An adjacent laundry area was re-situated to a nearby furnace room, making way for a new pantry and wet bar. The addition of a bigger window allowed for more light and a better view of nearby mountains. Stripped bare, the space was ready for the homeowner to work her magic.

“I always start with the cabinetry and build off that,” Cummings remarks. She designed the oak cabinets without hardware pulls (except for appliance fronts), because her kitchen opens up to the rest of the house and “this creates a more finished look.” The upper cabinets, with their etched-glass windows, light up from the inside. “They are opaque enough so that they don’t show everything. But when the lights are on, they create a warm glow.”

Light-gray engineered oak was selected for flooring, with Cummings giving it rave reviews. “It comes pre-finished, doesn’t stain, and the sun won’t fade it.” After living with dark floors in previous homes—where they had to be mopped and vacuumed all the time—she finds the lighter wood easier to maintain.

Another low-maintenance choice was concrete countertops. “Concrete is cheaper than natural stone, because there is no wastage from cutting the exact size. And you can pick any color you want and inlay anything into it,” Cummings points out. The concrete does, however, need to be sanded and sealed approximately every three years.

The seasoned remodeler says she has tried many appliances over the years, noting that her Sharp drawer microwave is one of her favorites. “It’s so easy to place a meal down into it, rather than reaching above you.” She also is partial to her Miele dishwasher, finding it “extremely quiet and efficient.” A built-in Miele coffee station, with piped-in water, self-grinder and automatic cleaner, also tops her list of favorites.

Warm and inviting, the well-planned kitchen represents Cummings’ strong sense of design and functions like a dream.

Photos - From left: Louise McDermott Cummings designed a moveable butcher block table for the kitchen. It can be placed at the end of the counter and used as a casual dining spot for two, or rolled elsewhere. For entertaining, a raised bar topped with hot-rolled steel was incorporated into the backside of the kitchen counter and paired with six matching stools. The opaque glass door opens to the new laundry room. • Originally the laundry room, the new pantry/bar area matches the design of the rest of the kitchen, with its underlit cabinets, glass-tile backsplash, and concrete countertop in Italian Butter Cream.

The Scoop
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: The final decisions. “There are endless options and so many exciting new appliances, materials and finishes out there,” says Louise McDermott Cummings, who served as her own contractor.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: The ambience. “It is amazing how light it is now and what great views I have.”

BIGGEST SPLURGE: The appliances. “I like to cook and bought a new Thermador steam oven with a gas stove and a steamer/heating drawer,” says the homeowner. “It’s new, and there is nothing like it.”
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