Fit for a Family
Peter Goldstein Architects creates a hard-working and hard-wearing kitchen in Dallas.
Julia Lewis -- Interior Design, 3/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
HAVING PURCHASED AN early-1980s contemporary house, its owners, a hip Dallas couple, fell in love with their new dwelling's suburban "Brady Bunch" look: slanted ceilings, profuse glazing, simple volumes, and an open, informal plan. Harder to love were some of the original finishes and details-decades-old wall-to-wall carpet, for starters-which could offend even the most hard-core '80s revivalist. Another problem was the house's kitchen, a cramped, inefficient room with outdated and under-powered appliances not up to the standards of the owners, who often cook in tandem for their family and friends.
"This wasn't meant to be a show kitchen, but a real working kitchen," says Peter Goldstein, the Dallas architect who was called upon to bring the house up to date. Gutting the kitchen and adjoining breakfast room down to the studs, Goldstein and colleague Douglas Dover enlarged the space by annexing a bank of closets from an adjacent hallway. With 325 sq. ft. to utilize, the architects radically reconfigured plumbing, appliances, and cabinetry, while devising a neutral but diverse materials palette that suited the couple's contemporary sensibility and practical needs.
Goldstein and Dover created a functional plan that would provide ample work surfaces and abundant storage with stainless-steel, commercial-style appliances positioned on perimeter walls. Made of pale Baltic birch plywood with contrasting black accents, cabinetry is simple and unadorned. For variety, the architects incorporated a stretch of sandblasted glass-front cabinets with exposed construction details. "The material change prevents a sense of monotony and creates a focal point," explains Goldstein. Peripheral countertops are made of Giallo St. Cecilia, a light-colored granite with black flecks, while the breakfast bar and center prep island are topped with polished cast concrete. The floor is covered with slate tile. "All of the materials were chosen because they are tough, utilitarian, and basically easy to clean," says Goldstein.
Used as the primary work surface, the prep island was conceived as the kitchen's "sculptural centerpiece and the pivot point of the design," says the architect. Removable drawers pull out on three sides, so that stored items are readily accessible. According to the architects, this piece was one of the kitchen's experimental aspects. "We worked closely with the cabinetmakers to integrate the exposed plywood edges and to engineer the drawers' movement along concealed glides," says Goldstein. Having never worked with cast concrete, the use of this material was also an experiment. "We did a lot of research and testing before discovering-during a trip to Marfa, Texas-the right mix and curing process to achieve a smooth, smooth finish without warping." The result is "an even matte surface, which has improved with the patina of age." In fact, says Goldstein, "it's getting better and better."
The kitchen renovation was completed in four months' time; the construction cost was approximately $60,000.