Warning: For those of you NOT interested in my overblown design process and painful detailing, please skip this entry…
When we first viewed the house, the kitchen was my least favorite part. It was long and narrow, with dark wood ceilings lower than the rest of the house, walls painted in dark burgundy, dark-ish oak cabinets, and the shutter on the large window above the sink was swollen shut, so there never was much natural light. But given how perfect the rest of the property was, I was willing to compromise. Of course, I had visions of having an enormous French country kitchen with a big fireplace, a nice large stone sink, some gingham, replete with a long farm table for friends to cozy around. While we viewed many of these “dream” kitchens in listings, they never belonged with the house that was perfect for us. They were often in multi-level maison d’maitres or big drafty stone money pits (gorgeous architecture, but simply too much house for two people.)
And so I started making measurements and dreaming of how I could transform this kitchen into a space that could work well for us. The back part of the kitchen, the utility room, and the office were added onto the old barn at some point in time and have a different roof line than the rest, being a lean-to style (yellow section below).
My first thought was to open up the big wall to the living room (green area on floor plan), adding some ‘flow’ and openness to the kitchen. We got quotes for making an arched opening with stone facings on both sides, but have decided against it in the meantime for several reasons.
I also explored stretching the kitchen along the three ‘rooms’ in the lean-to along the back of the house. The view to the back park would surely be inspiring, but it ended up just being another long skinny space. And opening up the old stone wall to make the kitchen part of the living room was unadvised.
The other little glitch was that we really didn’t have a place for the two of us to have breakfast in cool/wet weather, except at the large dining table in the living room. We thought (and are still thinking) about adding a veranda off the back of the kitchen on the current patio area. [We’re not proceeding with that work right now because we want to focus on our move-in deadline and will need to reassess the budget when we get to that point.]
I fuddled around with the idea of making the Entry into a breakfast room, as it is truly wasted space. We could shift the front entrance to the triple doors right into the living room. But after further consideration, we decided against it.
And now we’re back to the original footprint. I decided fairly early on to place my range in the niche that would be created by removing the wall of the built-in wall oven, microwave, and storage cabinets. By taking out the door to the utility room, we would gain tons of counter space and create some ‘presence’ for my, uh-hum, hear-it-comes, Lacanche range…ta da!!!
I also knew I wanted stained or painted cabinets. At first, we were planning to put in reclaimed terra cotta tiles throughout the house, so my plan was for creamy base cabinets and open shelving for the kitchen. Then when we flip-flopped to the stone tiles, I decided I would love black cabinets in the kitchen. At least for the lowers. Of course, I love doing things just a little off-center in my houses, so why not put the dark lowers with creamy uppers? And break it up with a stunning custom wood cabinet around the fridge?
Well, you’ve already seen the kitchen being gutted, but yesterday I got a wild hair and decided to proceed with tearing out the ceilings. I had planned to paint out the wood ceilings with their pretend beams. Here’s what the kitchen looks like today…
While the old beams are a thing of beauty (and Theo has a pipe-dream of keeping them exposed), my plan is to just move the ceiling up to the 3-meter height and marry it with the lean-to slope. These pics are after they cleaned up (did I mention how great this team is about cleaning up as they go along…it’s what one of the guys does all day!) It already feels so much bigger in there, and the vertical space will enable me to do a couple of knuckle-headed things I want.
And so, now our journey continues. I have to reassess how tall I want the cabinets, what kind of lighting is going to work best with the higher ceilings, etc. Stay tuned.
(Input is welcomed, but don’t be too harsh on my computer-generated renderings—my talent in that area has room for improvement.)