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Wide open spaces


Tove Kenyon of B & E General Contractors took advantage of Ann Todrykís kitchenís height and space when implementing her design.

Everyone is looking for a little more elbowroom in the kitchen. Whether you have the opportunity to expand or simply are working with what you have, there always seems to be a way to maximize your space.

For some kitchens, it is all about making the best of what you have. Rich McKesson and Rich Wilkie had some ideas of what they wanted and called upon Tove Kenyon, kitchen designer for B & E General Contractors, to help them pull it all together. Their original kitchen included a small dining area that was separated from the remainder of the space by an open wall detail. They had the square footage; it was time to maximize it.

They were looking to create a clean, modern area with a lot of light. Wilkie was adamant that they incorporate granite, while McKesson wanted light cabinets to brighten up the space. So with those prerequisites, the interior evolved.

"We wanted to bring the home out of the 1950s and into the 2000s," comments Wilkie.

A light laminate flooring material combined with maple cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, hood details and the perfect granite were brought together and topped off with a touch of color - walls painted celery green.

The lighting design adds to the impact of this space and was a serious consideration. Many kitchens incorporate down lights, but in Wilkie and McKessonís Wauwatosa home, the heat runs through the ceiling. As a result, a combination of under-cabinet and track lighting was used to properly light the space. The fixture selections add to the modern appeal of the space, while providing the necessary level of light.

And although these two do not consider themselves frequent cooks, space maximizing features and functional decisions were made to create the proper layout. Lazy Susans and slotted tray storage above the oven are a few features that Kenyon likes to incorporate. They also wanted a bar-height eating area to seat four. Kenyon worked the space to meet the demands and Wilkie, McKesson and their cats happily enjoy this area on a regular basis.

Gwen Kotlarek of Wooden Thumb helped Holly Riedel maximize her kitchen space.

"You must have a little faith in the people that you choose to work with," comments Wilkie. "You give them requirements and then you have to let them do their job."

Ann Todryk worked with B & E to transform her closed off, inefficient kitchen into something warm and bright. "We created the most efficient use of the space without adding on anywhere," comments Todryk, an East Side resident.

Clean, creamy white cabinetry accented with walls painted a coppery orange creates a clean yet warm palette. Teakwood, granite and copper finishes add elegant touches and the perfect contrast to this simple yet classic space. An organic deco tile offers a decorative accent and is even carried into the design of the exposed stairwell to tie the spaces together.

According to Kenyon, "We took advantage of the height of the space to give it an open feel. Walls were opened by the stairwell and sunroom to add to the spaciousness."

To maximize the space, a combination of drawer systems and cabinetry styles add variety to the overall aesthetic while providing adequate storage. Todryk needed more storage than counter space and in the end received a good deal of both.

Todryk is a client who came with an idea. She recommends that anyone who embarks on this type of project take the time to page through magazines or visit showrooms. Seeing the actual products in an installation will help in the decision-making process.

She wanted her space to be comfortable and pleasing to the eye and she had specific materials in mind - neutral floors, cabinets with glass fronts and, most of all, copper elements. Kenyon worked with her to pull it all together.

Terry Lucasí love of cooking was a major factor in the design of the Lucas kitchen - two base ovens were even incorporated into the space.

Holly Riedelís Wauwatosa bungalow had an unusual layout that needed to be reorganized. What do you do with a small space? How can I fit more storage, more counter space and a breakfast bar? How do you make a galley kitchen efficient? Riedel worked with Gwen Kotlarek of Wooden Thumb Inc. to find the answers to these questions.

The layout was improved by relocating the sink area to provide a more functional work zone and create a clear path for traffic flow. This spatial re-organization allowed Kotlarek to accommodate a snack bar area, a request from Riedel.

To create the illusion of openness, archways were raised and moldings were removed to gain height within the space. An additional window and double door with a side light flood the area with natural light to create an open atmosphere. A combination of down lights, under-cabinet lighting and decorative pendants along with a blend of open shelving and closed cabinets were used to add variety and again allude to spaciousness.

While special attention was paid to making this small space functional, aesthetics were not ignored. A refreshing coastal style was achieved with a mix of colorful and durable materials. White cottage bead board is a key design detail used throughout the kitchen. This clean aesthetic is complemented by a crisp ocean green hue found in the paint and Corian countertops. Colors and materials are alternated in various areas in subtle ways to create design interest. Final touches include a random selection of decorative hardware. Knobs and pulls are used in different applications and the motifs even change.

In the end the original footprint remained the same, but space was maximized and style was achieved. "It was a challenge, but we achieved so much in a small space," comments Kotlarek. "It is one of my favorite little kitchens."

Riedel advises, "When you take on this type of project, take your time, donít rush through and be sure to enjoy it." She recommends working with a designer. "I knew what I wanted, but I needed people to direct me."

Like Riedel, Susan and Terry Lucas called on Wooden Thumb for some direction. Even though Terry constructed the space himself, he knew he needed a little professional assistance.

"Have lots of time, as there will always be issues to deal with. That is part of the process," he recommends.

The Lucasí Milwaukee home also had a compartmentalized space that was not conducive for efficient cooking. They too wanted to open the space. Terry wanted room to enjoy cooking while having people gather around. In this instance he expanded his floor plan and added approximately 14 feet to his home.

According to Kotlarek, Terryís love of cooking dictated much of the layout. He wanted two ovens but wall heights in the kitchen didnít allow for a double oven. "We created an interestingly shaped island and angled it to accommodate walking paths," comments Kotlarek. Two base ovens were incorporated into the kitchen, one located in the island along with a cook top. A recessed corner sink is another space-saving element that Kotlarek integrated to create an efficient layout.

While the palette is neutral, the impact of the interior is achieved with the cabinetry. Looking for a rustic design, Hickory was the main material selection. A Romanite solid surface material was used for the countertops while the flooring is finished in a composition tile. Again due to radiant heating in the ceiling, Lucas needed to incorporate track and pendant lighting to properly illuminate the room.

The space incorporates a planning desk, island and plenty of countertop space. A large bar area allows guests to stand in a spacious dining area while peeking at the chefís creations. A full wall of pantry cabinetry offers more than adequate storage.

From a coastal and rustic style to a clean or modern look, the products available today along with some professional assistance can achieve any desired aesthetic. And whether the footprint

is large or small, everyone can find a way to get just a little more counter space, a little more storage and a little more elbowroom.