With the proliferation of white kitchens in homes today, it’s refreshing to see an architect take a different tack on a color scheme. Leo Casas, principal of Braulio Casas Architecture, blended contrasting hues with traditional details to create a welcoming kitchen in Seaside, Florida, for homeowners who love to entertain. The existing kitchen was too small and cramped to cater to large gatherings. To make more room, Casas borrowed space from a tiny porch next to the original kitchen, which doubled its footprint. “The new, larger kitchen makes use of every available inch of space and seamlessly connects old and new,” says Casas.
“My client had seen a two-toned kitchen in a magazine and fell in love with it,” says the architect, who took design cues from that look. Casas chose a shade of green (Benjamin Moore’s ‘Celery’) used in adjacent rooms for the lower cabinets, and a contrasting soft yellow hue (Benjamin Moore’s ‘Harp Strings’) for the upper cabinets and trim.
Casas designed a traditional cabinet profile with understated detailing, which was inspired by old apothecary cabinetry. “The cabinets are flat, recessed panels with a half-inch reveal in the Shaker tradition,” notes Casas. As you might find in old drugstore, a reproduction 19th-century ladder reaches the highest cabinets. It’s the perfect place to store items that are only used occasionally, such as large platters and extra glassware. The ladder hooks onto a stainless steel track that runs just under the upper cabinet doors, and tucks into a vestibule when not in use.
Casas kept the detailing simple with a flat pencil mold for the cabinets’ “feet,” and omitted a molding profile at the top of the cabinets. “Every quarter inch of space counts in this kitchen, and even a small bead mold can take away space,” he explains. Clever storage solutions include a narrow appliance garage that holds a mixer, wardrobe-inspired doors that conceal two Sub-Zero fridges, and a liquor shelf that slides from the wall onto the counter between the kitchen and dining room, turning the space into an instant cocktail bar.
Given the homeowners’ passion for entertaining, the kitchen boasts the latest state-of-the-art appliances and gadgets. In addition to the two Sub-Zero refrigerators, there are two stainless-steel sinks (one for prep and one for cleanup), and two trash disposal compartments tucked into the stainless-steel-topped center island. The island also houses a microwave drawer and warming oven. A six-burner commercial stove and stainless-steel range hood provide ample space to prepare gourmet meals.
Casas and the homeowner chose black polished granite countertops for the perimeter of the room. “Granite is a superior food prep surface—it’s easy to clean, as is the stainless steel island top,” says Casas. He painted the beadboard ceiling black to tie the room together; striated stainless steel and glass mosaic tiles in the backsplash echo the sleek range hood and island top. To keep the look grounded in tradition, Casas chose polished nickel bin pulls and cupboard catches, as well as antique heart pine floors.
“Lighting was very important to the homeowner,” says Casas. Three levels—task, ambient, and accent—are layered into the design. Stainless steel pendants over the island provide ambient lighting while complementing other stainless elements in the room; task lighting is provided by under-mount cabinet lights; and rope lighting under the toekicks serves as accent lighting. The large, colorful kitchen has become the heart of the house—with the right mix of tradition and modernity, it will provide beauty and function for years to come.Published in: New Old House Spring/Summer 2012