Three Visions, Three Kitchens
Homeowners with different needs, different tastes and different budgets discover ways to make their dreams come true.
By Judy West
From Philadelphia Magazine Home & Garden, Spring 2004
When Jennifer Hurley first saw the diminutive 19th century rowhouse near South Street that was to become her home, it was the back yard that proved the clincher. For Hurley, a city planner, that little rectangle of outdoor space provided the breathing room she needed to live happily in the middle of the city. The problem was, the only way to get to her urban oasis was via a narrow alley reached by a door in her tiny 9-by-9 foot kitchen. At the top of her renovation list was better access to the back yard.
Working with Schade and Bolender Architects, Hurley decided she was willing to give up some square footage in the yard to gain a more expansive kitchen. The addition houses not only cooking functions, but also Hurley's living room. That way, she says, friends can relax comfortably and chat with her while she cooks, and even on rainy days, she can sit on the sofa and enjoy the back yard.
"We wanted to give a sense of expanded space by including the back garden as part of the room." says architect Kiki Bolender, "so height of objects in the space was crucial. We made sure that no walls, tall cabinets or appliances would block the view through to the garden." Semicustom cherry cabinets hug the walls, extending all the way to the ceiling for a clean, elegant look. A slender island, slightly curved on one side, is aligned lengthwise in the space, with plenty of room on each side for Hurley and her guests to pass through to the living area
Hurley favors a traditional look and natural colors. One of her favorite possessions is an elegant Thos. Moser rocking chair in an updated shaker style that she received as a graduation present. It's no surprise, then, that she chose simple shaker-style cabinets with recessed panels and black-iron hardware.
The matte finish of the green-gray stone Hurley chose for her countertop is right in line with current trends, says Bolender. "More and more people are wanting a honed surface rather than the high-shine granite look." Still, this was the first time Bolender had used this stone, so she and Hurley tested a sample piece by leaving grape juice, tomato sauce, red wine and vinegar on it overnight to see the effect of these liquids on the countertop.
Satisfied, they ordered a 30-inch-deep counter rather than the standard 24 inches. The extra 6 inches let Hurley store her appliances on the counter, rather than hidden away in a cabinet. It also gave her room to fit a butcher-block cart under the countertop for an extra cutting surface when she has friends over to cook.
Hurley chose bamboo floors partly because she liked the look, but also because bamboo is a renewable resource. Available in both vertical and horizontal grain, bamboo also comes in different shades- the straw like natural hue or a richer honey color achieved by steaming the wood. Hurley liked the the subtle figuration of the vertical grain bamboo.
For Hurley, spacious under-the-counter recycling bins were a must. And rather than throw out the old laminate cabinets from the existing kitchen, this environmentally conscious homeowner put them in the basement for storage.