Why do guests always end up in the kitchen at parties? Is it a social phenomenon? Some strange gravitational pull? I don't know, but one thing is for sure: If your friends are going to congregate in your kitchen, you'd better make it as nice as possible.
I recently designed an amazing kitchen for my favorite client: my mom (aka Judy, aka Grandma). Mom raised me all by herself, and although we went through our share of lean years, she always worked hard to make our home warm and welcoming.
I credit my mom with inspiring in me a love of design, matched by her creative, problem-solving abilities. This is a woman who could find an old discarded piece of furniture, bring it home and turn it into something fabulous.
As close as Mom and I are, it has been 20 long years since we've lived in the same city. But she recently retired and moved across the country to be close to us. I found the perfect home for her in our neighborhood and decided to surprise her with an incredible new kitchen.
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My mom loves to cook and socialize. So my plan was to give her the ultimate social kitchen.
The home's existing kitchen was large and had an adjoining sunroom, but the space was outdated, dysfunctional and closed off from the rest of the house. I knew the transformation would be a big undertaking. And I knew I had to finish it before Mom moved in — a mere nine weeks away (and it takes eight weeks to order custom cabinetry).
I decided to keep the room's lovely terra-cotta flooring, but everything else had to go. So I blew out the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, removed the old cabinetry and appliances and opened up the entire space. I then began to organize the three distinct areas — the kitchen, the dining room and the sunroom — so they would flow together.
I wanted the kitchen to have a bright, clean look but didn't want it to be too formal or traditional, as my mom's style is more country chic. So I painted the whole space in a lovely off-white and used an oyster finish for the myriad kitchen cabinetry. I also put up some off-white tongue-and-groove panels on the ceiling that added cozy country charm.
In the kitchen, I installed an island in a contrasting, natural wood finish, with a quartz countertop, a large white cast-iron sink and a concealed dishwasher. The island also provides a place where friends can gather around Mom while she's cooking. Meanwhile, along one feature wall, I added lots of cabinetry, a range top, a custom-built in-range hood and a beautiful new oven. Along a second wall went the concealed fridge, freezer and pull-out pantry, and next to this I added a peninsula that serves as a sideboard and separates the kitchen and dining-room spaces without obstructing the sight lines.
In the window-filled sunroom I positioned a round wooden table for casual chats. I surrounded this with an eclectic grouping of seating: a Victorian chair, a comfy loveseat, a casual armchair and wooden dining chairs. I included a charming wood stove in one corner of the room to bring warmth and comfort during long winter days.
After adding a host of accents and accessories, the kitchen was finally complete. And just in time for the arrival of Mom, who was as delighted by the results as I was.