Gaining More Light
The Hall Between the Kitchen and dining room is lined with tackboard, creating an accessible, centralized communications base. The blue shelf brackets match one of the colors in the old leaded-glass windows.
The homeowners had specific requirements for the layout of the kitchen. For one, they wanted a room that people would enjoy being in. "A space where people working on one side of the room could be engaged with someone on the other side," Zitsman says.
A bright, well-lit space was also a priority. This, combined with a desire to put some artwork up on the walls, resulted in a decision to ban wall cabinets from most of the new kitchen. That's not an easy decision to make when space is at a premium. "We had some funny, odd-size spaces we wanted to take advantage of," Zitsman says. "Rather than try to make the cabinets fit the space, we fit the space around the cabinets." Wall storage is contained to built-in cupboards that wrap around the refrigerator and a double-door pantry. "Unencumbered by wall cabinets, the kitchen feels more like a typical room in the house," Wolf adds.
But this happy ending didn't come without a hitch. The homeowners wanted to use the least amount of synthetic material in the room as possible, and specified cabinets with solid-wood doors. But because of a miscommunication on the contractor's part, the doors were fabricated from an inferior-grade material. Not long after they were installed, the front panels began to warp and split. It took three months for the replacements—now correct—to arrive.
In the original kitchen, natural light was scarce. The only source was a lone window over the sink, and any light that did come in from nearby rooms was foiled by the maze of walls. Once the space was opened up, leaded-glass casement windows were exposed on three of the walls. Wolf moved one of these windows to the center of the rear kitchen wall, lining it up with the hall that leads to the dining room. Not only does this balance the kitchen but it also gives the corridor a focal point —light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
New casement windows were also installed at the two outside corners of the room. Now, with windows on three sides, there's abundant, even daylight throughout the kitchen—the finishing touch to the bright, livable space envisioned by both the homeowners and architect. "I think we avoided the common problem of a renovation 'devaluing' the existing house esthetically," Wolf says, "because of the care we took to respect the old while introducing the new to this house."