Modernist Appeal

by Kacey Larsen

A married couple arrived at Neal Prince Studio of LS3P with a challenging problem: They loved where they lived but wanted a home that better reflected their appreciation for modern design. So rather than moving from a site they considered home, they engaged Neal Prince Studio to make their traditional brick home a little more to their liking. Located on the south face of Paris Mountain, just north of Greenville, South Carolina, the family was deeply rooted in the neighborhood; but like most people who have lived in the same place for more than a few years, they faced a growing realization that their kitchen—once perfectly on-trend—was dated. The beige-on-beige color palette that was so elegant and understated at the time of construction now just looked drab. The cabinets, with their fussy hardware and faux craquelure finish, overwhelmed the enclosed layout, which was so popular in the 1980s, and the Spanish tile floor further darkened the mood. Appliances were flagging. The space was cramped.

In short, it was time for the kitchen to join the homeowners in the 21st century. A major renovation hinged on three simple goals: to enlarge the space, brighten it and simplify the area.

The kitchen and adjacent breakfast room were both undersized, so the new design removed the wall dividing them. A large opening was also cut in the wall separating the kitchen from the adjacent formal dining room. These strategies instantly opened up the kitchen and breakfast rooms, allowing for more light and a large kitchen island with breakfast bar. Creating a pass-through to the dining room provided more counter space and storage, as well as making the kitchen feel even larger and brighter.

Existing Spanish ceramic floor tiles, faux finish cabinetry and decorative wood molding were removed to prepare for new work. Stained oak flooring, high-gloss laminate cabinetry and manufactured quartz countertops took their place. A pair of small double-hung windows over the sink was replaced with a single, larger awning window, enlarging the view outward and inviting natural light in. Paint colors and new dimmable LED light fixtures were selected with the intent of amplifying the quality of light—day and night. Recessed and updated lighting fixtures provide the right combination of task and accent lighting. Modern white cabinets, countertops and stainless steel appliances contrast with the highly figured wood grain of the lower cabinets and island.

At the client’s request, every effort was made to minimize the clutter in the kitchen. Three-piece crown molding was removed and replaced with flat panels at the head of the cabinets. Hardware is touch activated, eliminating the need for pulls on drawers and doors. Knives, spices and hand towels are stored within cabinetry, allowing for an uncluttered space for gathering and cooking.

A few simple architectural moves transformed the dark and divided space into a bright, open floor plan characterized by simplicity and functionality. Contemporary kitchen elements such as the expansive island, sleek cabinetry, simple-but-high-quality materials, and modernist detailing all come together to create a welcoming space that feels very much of its era, and will serve the family well for years to come. |

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