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Elegant expansions
Four kitchens with one goal - gaining 
a little elbow space in the home's busiest room

By JANEL M. VAN BEEK and AMY SIEWERT

 

Guests in the Wauwatosa home of Pamela Anderson and Steven Kaishian get a birdís eye view of the chef at work while relaxing on the beautiful stools the couple found at Rubinís Furniture in the Third Ward. The Winters Group gutted the kitchen and living room area last year. Winters knocked out the wall between the two rooms, creating this open concept. The couple now has a contemporary kitchen with stainless steel appliances, maple cabinets and Cambria countertops. The inlays in the cabinets were designed by Anderson and are made out of zebra and gaboon woods. The stainless steel pulls in the kitchen were designed by Anderson and made by Kaishian. Joe Wodusek of Wood by Design built the cabinets. The container for the floral display along with the blown glass pieces come from Andersonís gallery, The Underwood Gallery, in Wauwatosa.


Remodeling marvel

When Dick and Mary Meyers remodeled their kitchen for the second time in 22 years, they were confident they knew what they needed. What started out as a plan to update kitchen appliances, however, quickly grew into something special.

"Our appliances were on life support," explains Dick. "We knew something had to be done about the kitchen. It wasnít until our designer and developer really started working with us that we saw the inefficiencies of our previous kitchen layout."

The Meyers quickly went to work with Tom Blau of Blau Bath & Kitchen Inc. to create a stunningly bright, spacious and classic-styled kitchen for their home. "Tom had updated a bathroom for us in the past. It stood the test of five children over 15 years and still looked great. We were very comfortable with whom we selected to design and develop our kitchen."

Practicality for this family of seven wasnít sacrificed in the name of style. The eat-in portion of the kitchen was preserved, though many family members have been spotted eating at the kitchen island. Special touches like extra drawers, huge transom windows, a bread drawer, a water filter (one of Maryís favorites), a trash drawer with room for both a trash can and a recycle bin and a smartly styled spice drawer help keep everything in its place. Above-the-cabinet lighting creates a soft mood in the dayís later hours and lights the way to a late-night snack for their youngest child, who is usually up late with school work.

Dick and Mary Meyers worked with Blau Bath & Kitchen to create a stunningly bright, spacious and classic-styled kitchen for their home.


Another special touch carried throughout the kitchen is beadboarding between the granite counters and the white cabinets. Mary liked the added texture the style brought to the kitchen. "I grew up in a home that had beadboarding. It turned out to be a very nice touch that fits with our homeís classic style." Mary says that beadboarding is also used on the kitchen island in a most intriguing way. The island happens to cover the kitchenís heat source, a radiator. "With our past remodeling job, our radiator was simply covered as an afterthought. Now, itís still covered but the design of the island is such that itís very inconspicuous. Itís a very stylish way to hide it."

Abundant style and masterful construction are most definitely evident in the Meyersí kitchen. One look at the white cabinets with cherry accents, the smartly styled pantry and the German glass doors on the small display cabinet will tell you this project was extraordinary.

Peter Rennerís kitchen boasts a 9-by-5 foot, modified U-shaped island, which comfortably seats six on one side with workspace on the other.


The Meyers didnít overlook their initial need for new appliances, including a fabulous Thermador cooktop on the island and strategically placed double ovens. The upscale stainless steel appliances are an excellent complement to the richness and warmth of the four-inch maple plank flooring and medium buttercup, textured walls.

The Meyers enjoy spending time with their family and friends in their newly invented space. "We entertain at our home often. And we always end up in the kitchen."

City sociability

Some kitchens are built for the home chef, with all the latest gadgets, bells and whistles; others are power kitchens, with multiple, high-end appliances. For the kitchens at The Waterfront condominium complex in Milwaukeeís historic Third Ward, itís all about connecting with people. Perched above the Milwaukee River is one of the cityís most chic, social kitchens.

Peter Renner, Waterfront condo owner and president of Renner Architects, designed The Waterfrontís 64 units for a casual lifestyle. This concept is also reflected in Rennerís kitchen, located at the center of the condoís living action. The kitchenís main attraction is the gorgeous, 9-by-5 foot, modified U-shaped island. The size of the island comfortably seats six on one side with plenty of workspace on the other; the shape of the island allows people to visibly connect with each other.

Renovators LTD brought a casual and warm feeling to this kitchen; the recessed lighting casts a soft light on the red-browns, mustards, stainless and ceramic mediums.


So often kitchen islands are used solely for cooking or food preparation. If islands do incorporate seating, itís normally for one side of the island. This means guests are all facing one way, unable to make eye contact with each other without making it a point to turn to the side. With the U-shaped island in Rennerís kitchen, guests can comfortably enjoy a casual meal without having to strain to see one another. Since the kitchen area is open to the living room/home theatre, no one misses out on the action, which makes for a perfect entertaining venue. And, Rennerís living room/theater area overlooks a grand deck, which invites a terrific view of the action on the Milwaukee River.

"People interested in buying here have a more casual lifestyle," Renner explains. "We have designed our condos around the concept that people want larger kitchens and adjoining areas where they can entertain. People donít have a desire for a formal dining room."

The stainless appliances, granite counters and savvy fixtures add perfect city styling while the soft, pendant lighting and cognac-finished cabinets balance the mix by adding warmth. Together, these timeless elements make the kitchen altogether inviting for guests and the home chef.

"Even though itís very sophisticated, the kitchen is laid out in a way thatís very functional, with dual garbage disposals and smartly placed outlets, yet it is perfect for entertaining," says property manager Mary Beth Waite. "Itís a great way to reconnect with the important people in your life at the end of the day."

Expanding spaces

When Swan Park residents Ann and Eric bought their home in 1999, they knew something had to be done about their kitchen. Their need only grew more painfully apparent after having two children, with a third on the way.

"We didnít want to move because we were very happy with our location. Once we determined that we werenít going to move, we thought, what are we waiting for?" says Ann. Ann and Eric surveyed their kitchen, which had just nine cabinets and one drawer. "Originally, the kitchen was built for one person to work in it," says Ann. In addition to little work space, the kitchen didnít allow a lot of elbow room for entertaining guests. "When we entertained, guests would ultimately congregate in the doorways to the kitchen, causing a great deal of congestion."

After seeing a neighborís successful renovation project, Ann and Eric chose Renovators LTD to design and develop their kitchen. They couldnít have been happier with the results. Not only did they end up with a new kitchen, the living space adjoining the kitchen was also enhanced. For example, to get to the attached garage from the back door of the kitchen, one would have to go outside. Now, a new mud room joins the garage to the home and provides space for the many cold weather accessories of Ann and Ericís three children. Also, a half bathroom that was located off of the kitchen was just 33 inches wide. The new bathroom not only had smart updates but also had considerably more breathing room, including a shower. "We added about 258 square feet onto the rear of our house. We never dreamed our project would be so elaborate but we are very glad we did it."

The kitchen boasts an abundance of suede-colored, shaker-style flat cabinets that are classy and timeless. The feeling is casual and warm; the recessed lighting casts a soft light on the red-browns, mustards, stainless and ceramic mediums. Gorgeous stainless appliances, including a convection oven-microwave combo, makes meal preparation much easier for this busy family. Ann and Eric enjoy small, personal touches, such as a special area for a full size TV, a wine rack, ceramic tile backsplashes and a gas cooktop with a stylish stainless steel exhaust system.

The real attraction, however, is the kitchenís island. One side of the island is for Ann and Ericís family to casually dine with stools or high chairs, and one side for food preparation, including a full sink and disposal, stainless steel dishwasher and generous counter space. This space also faces the full-size patio windows and doors, allowing the chef to keep an eye on the children playing in the adjoining family room or outside in the newly landscaped back yard and on their play set. Behind the islandís breakfast bar-style eating area is the familyís other casual eating area, complete with table and chairs.

With three small children, Ann says surviving over three months of kitchen renovation was no easy task. "The workers were great. They were well aware that we were still living here and respected that." And the end product is often commented on by visitors. "Guests are astounded by the size of the kitchen and how well it blends in with the rest of our home. We love it!"