Building a new home can be a lesson in trade-offs; budget constraints may leave some design aspirations on the drawing board. In Nixa, Mo., a couple who built their home in 2001 faced this challenge and opted to wait a few years for the kitchen of their dreams.

Once they were ready, Chad Holgerson, owner of Nixa’s Keystone Building & Design, helped his clients hone in on their preferences free from past budget constraints. “The owners didn’t know what they wanted exactly, they just knew they wanted something better,” recalls Holgerson. “Part of my design approach is to simply play around with ideas and list out all the features that excite homeowners without thinking about money. This process allows me identify their conscious, as well as unconscious, wish list, and then we can decide how to fit those into the budget,” he says.

The kitchen was open to the dining area, but its L-shaped layout secluded it from the rest of the house. Reconfiguring the kitchen plan to expand its square footage and better connect it to the home was the first step in the remodel. An unattractive door directly in back of the kitchen led to a three-car garage, and access to the pantry was through the adjacent laundry room. Holgerson took advantage of the garage’s large size and moved the shared kitchen wall back two feet to increase the kitchen’s depth. Then, he relocated the garage access into the laundry room to eliminate the direct pathway from the kitchen. A new side door at the far end of the kitchen now opens into the laundry room to reach the garage. A second new door on the near side of the kitchen provides direct access to the pantry. Pocket doors at these openings eliminated the obstructions of swinging doors to further increase usable space.

A peninsula cabinet that originally delineated the kitchen from dining room was removed, and Holgerson added a hutch in the kitchen that recesses into the shared laundry-room wall. Taken together, all the changes added enough space to introduce an island with adequate walk-around distances.

Ties that Bind

A clear objective was to entice people to come into the kitchen, and Holgerson used repeating visual and textural cues to make it an integral part of the home. The same custom-made Andean mahogany flooring in the living area was inlaid for borders around the kitchen walls at the base of the cabinetry. The contractor then installed a lighter, rectangular stone-patterned porcelain floor tile in a crossways direction to give the room a wider feeling.

Once the floor was decided, Holgerson looked to the ceiling. “When you’re approaching a remodel, it’s very important to address the entire room, otherwise the space is essentially not done,” he says. “We added 6-in.-deep beams to the ceiling to give it an Arts and Crafts feel and extended them the full length through the dining area to tie the spaces together, which makes the kitchen much more inviting.”

Holgerson says that the depth of the beams made the ceiling plane feel taller. He didn’t opt for dark wood beams because he was wary of creating a cap or lid effect in the room and could achieve the desired architectural effect through texture and form rather than material selection.

Details gave the cabinetry, hutch and island more of a furniture aesthetic. Cherry cabinets were adorned with feet at their corners, and decorative glass insets with lighting provide depth and show off personal possessions. Rather than create symmetry among the various elements, the kitchen’s island and hutch were painted black to offer distinction as individual pieces and visually open up the room. High-quality black quartz lent elegance to the countertops.

Color Play

The stain of the perimeter cabinets is a custom-blend of color selected from other colors of the house. The stained cabinets received black glaze highlights to subtly connect them to the neighboring island and hutch.

The island’s countertop is Brazilian granite, which was selected for its one-of-a-kind appearance as the colors and features of the stone change depending on where it’s cut – both geographically and how deep in the ground it is found.

“[The countertop] is an incredible piece,” says Holgerson. “This slab is exotic with many veins and colors running the length of it like a work of art. We used this granite solely on the island not simply to avoid repetition with the countertops but also because it draws more attention to the beauty of the stone when it is a single focal point in the room.” Because the cabinets are dark, Holgerson says the island’s lighter surface also makes the room feel larger.

Linear backsplash tiles visually lengthen the countertops. Brighter ceramic tile colors match the linear flooring, and a decorative diamond stripe between the range and hood coordinates with the living room’s fireplace and entry area.

Fitting Solutions

Cabinetry was custom-made to exact dimensions, and storage was tailored to match client’s specific needs. For example, the owners have a collection of plates. Rather than stack them high, Keystone Building & Design placed them in a drawer with wooden peg plate dividers for protection. Extra-wide and deep drawers in the kitchen are full extension and use adjustable sheet pan dividers to maximize storage space. Pots and pans fit neatly into drawers below the stovetop. Each cabinet contains pull-outs so owners don’t have to reach to retrieve items or lose goods in the back.

Soft-close door hinges and under-mount drawer glides offer smoother operation, quieter usage and add to the components’ longevity. The owners prefer to cook with gas, so a gas line was added, and a gas cooktop replaced the former electric stove. Other appliance alterations were kept to a minimum to suit the couple.

“We didn’t base the choice of appliances on the biggest size or name brand because that wouldn’t have served this couple’s needs. Instead we sourced quality, energy-efficient, quiet and easy-to-operate stainless steel appliances,” Holgerson says.

Rather than a stainless steel sink to match, however, a recycled-content composite sink offered other advantages: the material dampens the sound of water, dishes and pans compared to stainless steel; it won’t chip or crack like porcelain might; and with the look of black stone, the colored surface blends into the kitchen’s background. A touch-flow faucet was installed to allow hands-free operation for easier use.

Lighting is both decorative and functional throughout each space, including pendants and can lighting in the ceiling and task lighting beneath cabinets – all with multiple controls for use as needed.

“By thinking every step through, we were able to find solutions for all of the things they wanted within the budget. In addition to a more inviting and integrated space, we increased storage capacity in kitchen and laundry, made better use of the pantry and improved the value of the home,” notes Holgerson.

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