2020 Best Kitchens $75,000–$150,000
Lauren Tolles, Maison Birmingham, Birmingham, MI
Balancing classic and contemporary design elements can be challenging, but Lauren Tolles loves the “fun challenges” that older homes present. In this case, the 1921 Georgian Colonial home had wonderful bones, but the client preferred a more modern aesthetic.
Tolles set to work designing a space that would complement the original home’s heritage, while integrating a new kitchen and butler’s pantry that would fit today’s modern, open-concept lifestyle.
As with any such project, several challenges ensued: A surprise structural column affected the layout of the wainscot wall and hidden walk-in pantry, requiring reworking to hide the column. Another challenge was the client’s desire for a smaller refrigerator. However, this turned into a positive; the lack of tall appliances or upper cabinetry keeps the space feeling open and airy.
The client wanted a well-organized space that kept everything accessible yet out of sight; as such, the kitchen was carefully zoned, with areas for food prep (at the island and range wall), cooking (at the range) and clean up (the long sink run along the window wall).
To maintain a sense of symmetry and proportion, oversized black windows were installed to bring natural light into the space, centering the room. The Ilve range acts as a focal point, framed by the dark, tall glass cabinetry on either side, which also offers ample storage.
Tolles chose a cabinet door style with a Shaker look, but with a modern, thinner frame. The unlacquered brass fixtures also pick up on the classical elements of the home, but feature slightly more modern forms.
The butler’s pantry is enveloped in dark stained rift white oak panels, creating a dramatic transition between the kitchen and dining room, while the glass cube wine cellar makes a modern statement within the classical space.
Nick Masi, Crawford Supply, Morton Grove, IL
Nick Masi set out to give this farmhouse-style kitchen a modern update, focusing on the clients’ desire for clean lines and symmetry. His biggest challenge with the project was making sure the open-concept floor plan had smooth transitions from the kitchen area into the family gathering spaces. Additionally, he needed to fine tune adjoining areas, including the office, mudroom and laundry area.
He separated the kitchen area visually using multiple textures and finishes on the island. The sink side features maple Eclipse Cabinetry in the New Haven style in Pure White, while the sitting side showcases Eclipse Cabinetry Metropolitan Fused Laminate in Serotina with a vertical grain. The cabinet finishes are also environmentally friendly, the designer notes. Top Knobs hardware enhances the sleek, clean look.
Large windows flood the space with plenty of natural light, and eye-catching pendant lights above the island add to the space’s modern appeal.
Kuche+Cucina, Paramus, NJ
A family expansion drove the remodel of this 100-year-old marine engine and machinery pattern factory building turned home, and the new kitchen plan needed to accommodate a family of six. At the same time, it needed to address both the clients’ request for a modern kitchen and their desire to preserve some of the original architectural features of this protected historic building.
The design team at Kuche+Cucina relocated the kitchen from the back of the home to the front, taking apart, cleaning and relocating the original wood beams and rafters, wood columns and industrial elements to create an exciting mix of old and new.
A long island provides seating for entertaining while allowing the cook to interact with guests or family. The countertops – Caesarstone engineered quartz in Pure White for the cooking surface and natural marble Statuario for the island and backsplash – add design pizazz, while the poured concrete flooring in natural grey and Pedini System and Magika cabinetry provide a neutral backdrop.
Wolf cooking appliances, a Miele hood and dishwasher and a Sub-Zero refrigerator finish off the space.