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For The Home

Out in the Open

Author: Carly Scholl
Issue: August, 2017, Page 28
Photos by Garrett Cook

A tiled range hood visually melts into the palette of white, gray and warm wood tones in this contemporary farmhouse-style kitchen by architectural designer Tony Williams. Like the hood, each element of the space embodies a sophisticated blend of artistic accent and functional detail.
A gloomy kitchen with too-close quarters gets an airy update and plenty of high-design details

The kitchen of Jordan Hafen’s 1990s ranch-style home was everything a kitchen shouldn’t be: closed off, cramped, outdated and dark. Boxed in by nearly four full walls and finished in unimaginative materials, the space lacked the inviting nature that defines a well-designed open cooking area. “When I was thinking about what I wanted, I knew a natural flow that would not only be reflected in the aesthetics and design but also in the functionality was crucial,” explains Jordan. “I love to entertain, so I needed cohesion between the cooking, living and dining areas.”

The oak countertops flow down the sides of the island and across the flooring, marking a unique entrance to the kitchen’s interior space.
When architectural designer Tony Williams took one look at the anemic area, he envisioned a floor-to-ceiling remodel that would turn the room into a modern utopia perfect for the homeowner’s lifestyle.

“This kitchen was a pretty typical style that you’d see in the ’90s,” explains Williams about the pre-renovation situation. “Oak cabinets, laminate counters, yellowish-tan walls, faux travertine tile, plus it featured a mixture of black, white and stainless steel appliances for a super eclectic feel,” he jokes. The room’s small footprint was made even more claustrophobic by low ceilings and its enclosed construction. To remedy the spatial issues, the designer demolished the kitchen walls and raised the ceiling.

With a fresh, open configuration to work with, Williams crafted a new floor plan, installing a C-shaped island to delineate the basic outline of the kitchen and building out cabinetry and room for appliances along the original back wall. He modernized these structures by using traditional elements in unexpected ways.

“My goal was to make the island bar just as important as the sofa,” explains Williams. Guests can pull up a seat at the butcher block counters and enjoy the flow of conversation from the kitchen to the living room.
“Carrara marble is a very predictable look for a contemporary ranch or farmhouse kitchen. Even the diamond pattern is something you would expect to see,” he says. “But I infused some modern twists, like laying the tile around the radius island and running it up the sink backsplash to an unfinished edge.” Similarly, glass-paneled cabinets are a kitchen classic, but the exposed ductwork above them hints at a contrasting industrial aesthetic.

While butcher block is a must-have for any chef, Williams reinvented the old standard by using variegated oak panels to form a continuous waterfall effect, flowing from the countertop, flush across the floor and back up again. “The waterfall was something I knew I wanted to do because I loved the idea of the wood grain falling off the counter,” he explains. “But then I thought it would look even more special if the panels visually connected the two islands.”

During the redesign, Williams maximized the kitchen’s entertaining potential by creating an environment where the flow of conversation wouldn’t be interrupted by cooking tasks. “In an open kitchen, the ideal location for the range is the island so the cook doesn’t have to turn their back to their guests,” he explains. “Naturally, that puts the hood right in the middle of the floor plan, so it has to look good to be the centerpiece of your kitchen.”

Pop-up electrical outlets set into the counter give appliances sleek and easy access to power at the push of a finger.
In lieu of a typical stainless steel model, Williams installed an oval-shaped columnar hood enveloped in glossy white tiles. The muted palette blends into the rest of the kitchen instead of competing with surrounding details, yet the gleam and pattern of the tiles creates visual interest.

The revamped kitchen boasts ample space and plenty of natural light for prepping, cooking and entertaining. The lustrous patina of stainless steel glimmers throughout the fresh white space, adding just a touch of elegant minimalist glamour.
The finished product was just what Jordan desired. Neutral tones, warm finishes and innovative details welcome the homeowner and his guests to comfortably enjoy the crisp, modern farmhouse-style kitchen. “Tony turned this room into the heart of my home through the balance of space and materials used,” says Jordan. “When all these elements are brought together, the true character of my kitchen is on full display.”

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