A Sublime Kitchen
A sleek corridor defined by cherry and glass.
This Old House TV: Key West house project
At the Key West wrap party, much of the praise being heaped upon the transformed house was directed at the kitchen. A sleek corridor of cherry walls and glass cabinetry and stainless- steel appliances, formed the private room homeowner Helen Colley wanted: "We didn't want to be looking at dirty dishes from the living room."
But it is no dark, cut-off cul-de-sac. Stepping in from the living room or the house's side entry, your eye travels through the gleaming galley space, out a pair of French doors, across the back porch and into the fresh blue of the lap pool. With the French doors open, never have 144 square feet seemed so airy and cool. More coolness comes from a black granite floor, which almost begs you to take off your sandals and walk on its smooth surface. With your feet taken care of, place your hands on the coral-colored granite counters and feel your body temperature begin to fall. Ahhh.
You'll want to be as cool as you can be before firing up the wok. A built-in unit with a Saturn booster-like gas ring, this machine achieves a meat-searing 30,000 BTUs, enough to quickly boil a whole lot of water if you change out the wok for a lobster pot. Next to it stands a stainless-steel range with six gas burners and a self-cleaning electric oven. The burners are stars rather than rings, the better to bring an even heat to the entire pot or pan bottom. The biggest burner provides 15,000 BTUs, while two small burners can cycle on and off at 260 BTUs, maintaining temperatures low enough to just melt (but not burn) chocolate.
As described in an earlier feature, cooking fumes are sucked through a stainless- steel hood attached to a powerful in-line fan that's mounted in the attic. The utter lack of fan roar is matched by the dishwasher, one of a new generation of ultra-quiet machines whose "on" lights are the only indication that they're washing.
From the first day, Colley was single-minded in her search for the right refrigerator. The model she chose has its freezer draw at the bottom, fine for the occasional stoop. The cooling section is a yawning 36" wide and right in front of you as you stand straight up, pondering the fruit juices and letting all the cold air spill out, just like your mother told you not to do.
No appliance is more than two steps from any other; the kitchen compactness is one of its strengths. There is enough variety in surfaces to keep the eye satisfied, yet not so much as to make the space busy. The stainless appliances form a suite of color that connects to the brushed-aluminum cabinet pulls; the cherry wood shares reddish tones with the granite of the countertop; the shine of the black floor matches that of the glass tile backsplash.
All the more wonder that Michael Miller, an architect with a great eye for such things, has spent almost no time in the room since the TV show left. That's because he's too busy with the barbecue out by the pool. "I just can't tear myself away," he reports. "Did you know the thing cranks out 40,000 BTU? And it has an infrared broiler in it?" Maybe Helen can lure him back inside with that wok burner.