This kitchen remodeling project in Shaker Heights, Ohio was part of an extensive whole-house remodel that had an expansive goal set, plus some unusual challenges. In particular, the difficult to articulate interior design theme for the combined kitchen/dining room places this space squarely into the not-so-Shaker, non-conformist arena. The wife and husband, both avid and adventuresome cooks, craved a visually stimulating kitchen where they could easily cook great meals, plus comfortably hang out for extended periods of time with family, friends, and their ever-evolving cast of canines.
Unlike many Shaker Heights homeowners, it was discovered during the Design & Planning Phase that these homeowners were not attached to the formal dining room concept. Removing the entire wall that previously separated the kitchen from the dining room allowed for a single space to be created that now multi-tasks with ease. With a two-level peninsula that can seat people on either side (with the adjustable height stools) there is a level of connectivity, and flexibility, that allows for different uses at different times.
In the primary cooking area the low window sills called for separate cabinet/counter spaces on each wall, but also added a level of openness that the space would not have otherwise had. The open spaces left and right of the cook center allow for guests (or dogs!) to be in the kitchen without being in the way. And since the kitchen dimensions weren’t sufficient to meet National Kitchen & Bath (NKBA) design guidelines for an island, a mobile island cart was designed and built instead. The homeowners now have the benefit of extra prep space near the range, but can also move the island cart under the peninsula counter when there is a need to open up floor space in the kitchen.
The interior design of the space includes a multitude of styles that reflect the homeowner’s unique tastes with a particular focus on an eclectic, salvage feel. The mix of materials actually exudes a sense of warmth and, above all, the space feels very much like it belongs to this particular couple, not like it was replicated from a magazine photo. Because of the wife’s persistence, exterior grade brick veneer was incorporated into the kitchen on an exterior wall. A cost-effective, crackle glaze, 3 X 6 Subway tile was made to look old through the use of gray grout. The built-on-site custom range hood, and attached shelving system, coordinate with the peninsula counters and the lighting. The new angle iron used to build the island cart was carefully finished to add a patina which provides a sense of history. And the soapstone and wood-topped custom cabinets were hand distressed and finished on site in order to guarantee that all of the finishes coordinated as planned, and that includes the original angled corner cabinet in the dining area which was repaired, refinished and repurposed. Additional details and customizations abound.
A secondary doorway that once lead to a landing on the main stairs was converted into a pantry. The glass door for the pantry was salvaged from elsewhere in the house. The salvaged, Shaker Heights “Fairmount” street sign hides the doorbell chime. The vent above the range hood directs cold air directly to the hottest area of the kitchen from the retrofitted whole-house air conditioning. The radiator covers were removed and left off in order to add to the eclectic feel. The wall cabinets right of the sink window are 15” deep, instead of the typical 12” deep, in order to pick up a little extra storage space. Right of the sink is the dishwasher which is hidden behind a matching door/drawer cabinet panel. Multiple pull out trash/recycling bins are included throughout the space. The landing zone counter to the left of the fridge is a cutout from a discarded table top found on a tree lawn elsewhere in Shaker. And last, but not least, the island cart casters include hand-applied leather to the metal wheels in order to protect the original and newly refinished hardwood floors.
Well before the Design & Planning phase started the long-time homeowners had considered moving, but with a lifetime of family memories, including having three children go through the Shaker school system, they felt that reinvesting in their current home made more sense than moving to an unfamiliar neighborhood. Their commitment not only to their home, but to their street, and the community, made sense to them because they love living where they are. Having fulfilled their unique vision they now have familiar, yet updated, surroundings for children and grandchildren to return to over the coming years….and coming decades. This project exemplifies both the unique aesthetic views of the clients, as well as a true appreciation for sense of place.