before and after

before & after: wood-filled kitchen redo

by Kate Pruitt

I’m thrilled to end the day with another amazing kitchen renovation, one with an entirely different approach than Casey’s all-white interior from earlier, but similarly successful in creating warmth, energy and a super-efficient flow throughout the space. This kitchen was created by Portland-based architect Michael Howells, a man not afraid of a little wood grain. In fact, Michael uses the raw material so well in this kitchen that he may have turned me into an all-wood kind of gal. The color contrast of the stormy blue tiles against the warm cherry cabinetry is unexpected and stunning. I love the overall effect in this room: modern and organic, with the perfect touch of vintage coziness. I wouldn’t say this about too many wood-heavy kitchens, but I think this version will certainly stand the test of time. Amazing job, Michael! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

After images by Matt Niebuhr

Read the full post after the jump . . .

Time: 3 months

Basic Steps: I assessed and measured the existing space and also looked at the rest of the house for inspiration. I’m not a fan of period-faithful “retro” remodels, but I don’t like the kind of default modern renovation that feels impersonal and disconnected from its context. So we planned this kitchen to have a little 1940s flavor (lighting, cabinet pulls, retro breakfast table), but we didn’t go all the way.

Originally, my clients thought they might need to knock out an existing wall and staircase to expand what was essentially a galley kitchen, but I thought it was wide enough. In fact, the basic layout was fine. We kept things pretty much where they are now, spatially — we just tweaked the plan, refining every detail for optimal flow between the garden and the breakfast nook at one end and the kitchen and dining room at the other. This family homeschools their three children, and they wanted a breakfast area that could work for school projects, too, so we took extra care to create enough space for a generous banquette (also custom cherry) and a nice long table while preserving sufficient access to the back garden. We also took out a chimney (big job!) and widened the casement opening between the kitchen and dining to better connect those spaces. And we dispensed with existing soffits to run some cabinets all the way to the ceiling, creating extra storage space.

Picking cherry for the custom cabinetry was the first big move. This was inspired by a beautiful antique cherry cabinet in the living room, and by the family’s collection of string instruments. I felt a rich wood color with an interesting grain would give this kitchen warmth and texture and make it feel unique and special to its owners. The wood is very visually interesting, so we dialed it down with the rest of the materials. Countertops and backsplash are more subdued.

In spaces that are as highly trafficked as the kitchen or bathroom, every inch matters. It needs to be properly thought out and well documented before you start. Don’t make decisions as you go along. Understanding the existing space is a critical first step to transformation. — Michael Howells

Cabinetry: Cherry
Tile: Blue Fog from Heath’s Modern Basics line
Sink: Shaws
Countertops: IceStone
Cabinetry pulls: reproduction Deco pulls from Rejuvenation; repro ’40s-era lighting also by Rejuvenation
Breakfast nook chairs: Fritz Hansen
Tabletop: Bars & Booths

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