Last week, we talked to Lauren Levant about her design background and inspiration. Today we’ll hear from Lauren about a recent, NKBA award-winning kitchen remodel that rings true to her town of Pittsburgh.
From the street, this house looks every bit a handsome, somewhat traditional home that you would find in any suburban neighborhood in America. The landscaping is neat and tidy, the neighbors wave hello as they walk their dogs and meet the kids at the school bus. In this case, this couple had just sent their last kid off to college and were easing into empty nester life – but the neighborhood and the relationships they’d formed there were enough to dissuade them from leaving the family homestead behind.
The challenge for me as a designer then became to somehow transform this traditional, uninspired kitchen/living space into a much more stylish and exciting one to help celebrate this new phase of life. As you can see in the before photo, this was a fairly small space with a cramped, inefficient layout. The clients craved a bright, breezy space, conducive to entertaining, and full of visually exciting details. They wanted to be sure that beyond improving the form and function of the space, that this renovation would also add energy and interest to their daily life.
Two major adjustments proved to be the key to everything:
- Relocate the garage entry door. This allowed for the addition of a continuous wall of cooking equipment and storage, compensating well for the next step…
- Add a series of large sliding glass doors, opening up to the pool area. This may have been the biggest “wow” moment. Everyone would swear that we added square footage, but we didn’t. Keeping your eyes moving through the glass makes it feel that the room doubled in size when it hasn’t. Game changer.
Now for more details… Last week, I mentioned that one of the kitchen design trends that I love is the mixing of unique metals. In this case, we used a hot-rolled, natural steel hood, created by a local metal artist. Pittsburgh is Steel City, after all. I love how the natural waxed finish allows the metal to show off its natural mill-scaled patina of blues and grays. It sets off the gorgeous Monogram range beautifully. In between those two metals, the backsplash area is paneled in glass, edge-lit by embedded LED lights. This little trick not only looks sexy, but it also enables the client to have notes and recipes written with a wax pencil, which adds some more energy and fun.
Quartz countertops in white provide a lot of light-bouncing from the view of the pool area, which helps to fill the space with even more light. Most of the time people don’t think of countertops as a light source, but in this case, they are. The cabinetry is done in a modern, textured laminate finish, which adds some contrast from the other glossy surfaces. The secondary wall of storage at the rear of the space is designed at 3⁄4 height, creating a feeling of openness and interest, and making a transition to the third level – a massive center island. Storage is incredibly important in an open kitchen plan, and in our case, we used every available inch to create areas that are functional and easy to keep up with. I mean, who doesn’t love a hidden coffee bar?
Using high-quality products, particularly appliances, is key to a project that works just as well as it looks. I enjoy using Monogram’s technology and quality whenever I have the opportunity because it helps to reinforce the high standards that I try to emulate as a design professional. These clients are cooking, entertaining, and living in this kitchen, and I feel great knowing that with such a well-equipped new space, they’ll be enjoying this space for many years to come.
In last week’s conversation, I mentioned a recent kitchen renovation in Pittsburgh that had snagged two first place NKBA design awards nationally this year. I’m glad to have the chance to share photos of this project this week – because I think it highlights so many of the things that kitchen design should aspire to be about in the coming years. Designers aren’t always lucky enough to have clients who trust them enough to sign on for ideas that push the limits of a space physically and visually, but in this case, the courage and faith of these empty nesters helped me to transform their modest sized kitchen entirely.
Photos: Dave Bryce Photography, courtesy of Lauren Levant Interior