Room to grow
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 1/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
A spatially challenged kitchen may suffice for many young, on-the-go urbanites. Not so for Brigitte Sandquist and Phil Black. The parents of two small children, with a third one on the way, the pair also love to entertain. "We're the kind of family that spends a lot of its time hanging out in the kitchen," says Sandquist, an English lit PhD who now devotes spare time to close readings of a different genre: cookbooks.
Until the couple tapped Holly Hulburd Design to remodel their San Francisco house, they didn't have much of a kitchen to hang out in—just a galley affair lacking both elbow room and natural light. To gain space, sunshine, and views, principal Holly Hulburd suggested flipping the kitchen and dining room's locations, so the former could take over a sunlit rear corner. The move doubled the kitchen's square footage to 380, allowing Hulburd to install a generous L-shape countertop, a central island, and a dining nook equipped with a custom chenille-upholstered banquette and a simple walnut trestle table.
She even carved out a separate kitchen-within- a-kitchen, a "toast station" with its very own microwave, under-counter refrigerator, and, of course, toaster to service the dining nook. That way, the kids can prepare snacks without interrupting the intricate choreography of mom's cooking—also the thinking behind the 6-inch-high stainless-steel partition slicing across the island's cantilevered maple top. (Although with 2- and 4-year-olds, concedes Sandquist, the separation is frequently more symbolic than literal.)
Hulburd based her concept on a 3 1/4-inch module, a dimension that defines the edge of the granite counter, the glass mosaic tile of the backsplash, and the finger-pull reveals of the cabinetry. Cabinet doors alternate between clear-stained satinwood, translucent glass, and panels painted red and citron—in a Piet Mondrian mode—while the eco-friendly bamboo flooring follows its own meticulously ordered patterning. Completing the composition are two "linear gestures" drawn by the cabinet reveals as well as the counter's white-flecked granite, which folds up and over the refrigerator and wall ovens in a single continuous band.
"By finessing the space down to the millimeter, the design language moves seamlessly from architecture to interiors to furniture," Hulburd explains of the greater implications of her kitchen scheme—which is not only more in keeping with the clients' lifestyle but also resonates with their pursuit of a more pared-down aesthetic. "When I began the project, Brigitte and Phil had very little furniture. And what they had was a bit froufrou, except for the contemporary artwork," she says. "We've been systematically modernizing everything in accord with their collection."