Cooking inside the box
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 7/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
In rainy London, outdoor dining is a dubious affair, but an eat-in kitchen by Found Associates might just be the next best thing. It certainly didn't start out that way. As in most London houses, the kitchen of this neo-Georgian 1930's town house in Chelsea was partially below-grade and only 100 square feet, with street-facing casement-style windows. Amplifying size and augmenting natural light became the project's driving forces.
After removing a pantry at the rear of the house's basement to create one long room, Found Associates extended the space still further by excavating approximately 8 feet into the back garden. This tactic gained an additional 40 square feet, which the architects enclosed in 5-foot-high walls of plaster-finished concrete and capped with a glass box. (The 2/3-inch-thick sheets of laminated glass were dropped into channels in the concrete walls, then sealed with silicone.) "If you stand right up against the glass, you can see the garden, but you can also look straight up at the rear of the brick house," says principal Richard Found.
Once the new, 300-square-foot space had taken shape, Found's focus shifted to refining finishes and fixtures. White now dominates: white emulsion paint for the walls, 3-foot-square limestone tile for the floor, white lacquer for the cabinetry lining a sidewall.
Found chose 1 1/2-inch-thick black granite for the counter and the top of an island equipped with a food-prep sink, storage cabinets, and a microwave oven. The refrigerator and wall ovens are clad in stainless steel, the same material as the backsplash and drawer pulls.
At the front end of the kitchen, Found refurbished the existing windows and installed a wall of frosted glass to separate an adjacent bathroom and utility room. The glass-enclosed back of the kitchen he reserved for mealtimes. With a dark-stained oak custom table and wire-based plastic side chairs by Charles and Ray Eames, the area is ready for family gatherings. The clients, a retired couple, often invite their three adult children and six grandchildren for lunches, afternoon tea, and dinner. Let it rain.