Welcome to the octagon. That was the shape of a kitchen that greeted Tatiana Machado-Rosas, lead designer for Jackson Design & Remodeling, San Diego. The client, a couple with two sons, wanted something completely different for their luxury 6,000-sq.-ft. home — long lines and rectilinear.

“The octagonal shape of the old kitchen made no sense at all,” says Machado-Rosas. “She likes really straight lines, simplicity, rectilinear, and that was not going to be possible in the other shaped kitchen.”

The couple, who approached Jackson Design hoping for just a kitchen remodel, got that and more. Because of the limits imposed on her by the odd shape, Machado-Rosas quickly realized that the kitchen’s location at the front of the house was incompatible with their goals. However, it could and should be swapped with two small bedrooms and a bath at the back of the house.

The move, while bold, worked on a number of levels. First was favorable adjacencies. The former bedrooms occupied a spot in a corner of the home sandwiched between the dining room and a family room — a central location for a new kitchen. Second, the rear of the home has great views, which could be utilized to much better effect.

CoCo Harper, Jackson Design’s marketing director, says the change-of-venue concept took the clients a moment to comprehend. “They came to us just looking to remodel the kitchen. After all of the work and all of the listening, we came back to them and said, ‘Look, it’s not just a kitchen remodel. It can change your life.’”

Moving Walls, Opening Spaces
The resulting kitchen is a 180-degree departure from the previous. Cramped, dark and inefficient gave way to long, bright and expansive. Earth tones gave way to whites and darks.

To make it happen, bedroom and bathroom walls were knocked out creating an enormous open space. Selectively, the space was redefined. A large pantry was added at the far end of the space, away from the rear yard. Its two new walls do double duty. One is outfitted with a coffee bar/serving area. The other houses a desk and work area.

The massing of the pantry, coffee bar and desk space also serves the larger purpose of delineating the end of the kitchen and entertainment zone as it shifts to a breakfast nook. The nook is full of light with the addition of French doors and a set of floor-to-ceiling windows on each side.

Windows are not usually a primary point of reference in kitchen design. Yet in this, as in other kitchens that won 2015 Master Design Awards, windows figure prominently. In particular, they are a central consideration in the design of the space. At the other end of the kitchen, a bank of similarly gridded casement windows, with transoms above and around each, gives the space a significant measure of its drama and impact. The classic lines of the kitchen contrast favorably against the green hills of San Diego County. That same view was once squandered on a small window in a secondary bathroom.
“They are Pella windows. We ordered them unfinished with the idea to paint them on-site,” Machado-Rosas says. The windows are a dramatic design element to complement the classic look of the kitchen. They really well work with whatever else is happening. The client wanted grids to match existing windows in the rest of the house. The grids also remind her of European windows. She wanted the large scale, where you can see the views.”

Designing the Space
Machado-Rosas, an interior designer by training, runs a staff of 20 designers at Jackson Design, and drew on her nine years of experience to put this kitchen together. Although it is, in some ways, just black and white, it also manages to be warm and full of subtleties.

The large set of built-in cabinets that house the refrigerator and flat-screen television are designed to appear as a single massive piece of furniture. Behind that wall is the existing family room, which can be accessed through doors on either side.

In this section and throughout the kitchen, the cabinet doors are simple, almost Shaker, but not 100 percent Shaker. There is a small strip of molding lining the inside of each cabinet front. This is intended to be the entertaining side of the kitchen. Guests come in, sidle up to the massive island and can interact with the cook at work on the opposite side. The cooking side of the island is characterized by a monolithic and beautiful backsplash/slab of Calacatta Honed Marble, which is also the countertop material.

“The client showed me pictures that she liked,”  Machado-Rosas says. “She did cutouts from a bunch of magazines, and a consistent theme was white cabinets in a Shaker style. That is where the inspiration started; also the fact that she’s Italian and loves marble. She is also a ballerina, so being Italian and a ballerina she is elegant and graceful.”
With the room arranged as it is, the cook can glance across at the television, out into the dining room or the family room, all without having guests come into her work space.

The final wall is the cleaning zone. A large stainless steel farm-style sink from Kohler is modern in appearance and traditional in form, as is the faucet. A pair of built in dishwashers flank the sink, and, more importantly, there is ample counter space for cleanup work. Cleanup time is certainly made more pleasant with the enormous bank of windows overlooking an outdoor grilling area and the view beyond.

Amazingly, the outdoor grilling area was already in place prior to construction. It was accessed via exterior doors from the family room. A new exterior door to the left of the sink offers more direct access to that outdoor space, which won’t remain in its current configuration very long. According to Harper, a fuller outdoor living space around the kitchen area will soon be in the offing.

A word about the flooring and island top: The dark hues were softened to avoid stark contrasts and to warm the space up, Machado-Rosas explains. “The flooring is oak with some distressing and then stained. And that is why you see the different tones. It is dark, almost ebony. If you look at it, it’s almost like the fur of a bear. It is really, really beautiful.”

Likewise the countertop is a very dark brown-antique granite in a leather finish. “So if you touch it,” Machado-Rosas says, “it is texturized with a highly polished satin finish.”

In the end, the kitchen project was transformative for the client, says Harper. And the positive outcome would have been greatly diminished had the team from Jackson Design not stepped back to look at the bigger possibilities. |QR

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