Boldly Efficient


There perhaps is no other room that demands the storage solutions a kitchen does. When a couple decided to downsize from a 4,200-sq.-ft. to a 2,000-sq.-ft. home, they did not want to lose any kitchen storage space, despite it having a much smaller footprint. Neil Kelly Co., Portland, Ore., was tasked with remodeling the kitchen into a two-cook area that met the couple’s storage needs.

Neil Kelly designer Martha Kerr, CMKBD, CR, became acquainted with the clients through Rotary Club. “The client has a nice design sensibility so she was a lot of fun to work with,” Kerr recalls. “She gave me creative leeway, but always paid attention to the details to be sure her specific usage and storage needs were being addressed.”

The two-month design process yielded a plan that integrated and maximized kitchen and living space so both clients could work together in the kitchen while simultaneously providing adequate storage — there are no dead corners in the kitchen. The porcelain tile floor extending into the dining room and hallway opened up the space and provided materials that will wear well for indoor/outdoor entertaining, and using the deck off of the dining room.

Bold red cabinetry coloring immediately catches the eye in this kitchen, yet is designed in a balanced way so it is not overpowering. “By using the teak finish on the base cabinets to balance the bold, it worked out pretty well,” Kerr explains. “The white neolith countertops and the tile floor created a neutral zone that allowed the pop of color to work well.” Wrapping the peninsula countertop with the waterfall edge completed the design.

Although the kitchen is small, standard-size appliances are thoughtfully placed to fill the area. “The clients had purchased the appliances before deciding to remodel the kitchen so we had to work with what they had,” Kerr says

Kerr explains that she created a “tall wall” for the refrigerator, oven, microwave, espresso machine, pantry and appliances garages. “By doing so, we were able to house all of the appliances without sacrificing too much storage space. The built-in espresso machine was a must because they had one in their previous kitchen.”

She also implemented the common work triangle, which connects the three main work areas in the kitchen. “There is adequate counter work surface on both sides of the sink so the primary cook has access to the sink, range and refrigerator without bumping into the second cook who can work between the refrigerator and sink, with plenty of countertop to the left of the sink.”

Nothing was square or plumb, making the clean lines in this space quite remarkable and speaking well of the craftsmanship, particularly because no heavy moldings were used to cover up the flaws. Symmetry was of utmost importance in this small space to ensure it did not take on a cluttered appearance.

Lighting presented another challenge. The vaulted ceiling is lined with skylights across the main work area. Kerr added track lighting below the skylights to provide adequate task lighting, and existing recessed cans provide excellent general illumination.

The ultimate reward for any task is a happy ending. “The clients were fun to work with, amenable to my ideas, adventurous and not afraid to try some color,” Kerr says. “They are in love with their kitchen and love entertaining in the house with all the changes we made to the kitchen, living room and dining room. The space flows well and just works for them. Making happy clients who love their homes is always my goal.”

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