What was a cramped and dark kitchen that had an awkward brick wall with a pizza oven added decades ago, is now an open and airy space. The new kitchen was expanded, taking over a maid’s quarters, which meant a load bearing wall needed to be removed.
“This home was the perfect cozy Cotswold-style stone house, but the client had a more transitional and polished aesthetic in mind,” says the design force behind this space, Sarah Robertson of Studio Dearborn. “So, this was a marriage between those two potentially disparate styles.”
It was also designed for a young family in mind. “Raising a family has brought me some great new insights as to what does and doesn’t work in the realm of the kitchen,” says Robertson. “Most of my clients have young children, so I can bring that knowledge of how their needs are going to evolve into the planning process.” In this kitchen, this knowledge translates into close proximity to the mudroom, extra storage for backpacks, shoes, and everything little ones need when getting ready for the day, a walk-in pantry, and plenty of space to prep, store, and cook.
Thanks to the newly opened floor plan and addition of backyard-facing large windows, the team went with a cabinetry color that is off black with a tint of blue. “We felt it was a gorgeous contrast with the pale oak floors,” says Robertson. She brought in a similar pale birch for the china cabinet. “We chose birch instead of white oak because it is a plentiful, fast-growing species and a bit less expensive,” she says.
Along with any top-level kitchen design, there is a place for everything. “I’m a huge believer in the right storage in the right place,” says Robertson. “When I design a kitchen, it’s an iterative process to achieve a beautiful space that also functions beautifully.”
“When I design a kitchen, it’s an iterative process to achieve a beautiful space that also functions beautifully.”
In this kitchen there are several zones to add to the flow and storage possibilities including areas for prep work, cleanup, preservation, and cooking. In addition to the walk-in pantry there is also storage for dishes, and a breakfast bar.
Robertson’s favorite part of the kitchen is the massive prep area on the island. “We could fit so many kitchen tools there for prepping meals, plating food, baking, and just all the living that takes place on a kitchen island,” says Robertson.
One unique element is the ceiling ventilation system. “In order to keep the symmetry with the sink area, we chose a ceiling ventilation system,” says Robertson. “For structural reasons, the hood could not be recessed completely up into the ceiling, so we had to be satisfied with ‘nearly flush.’”
And what is a great kitchen without great lighting? Robertson loves to add natural light along with interesting light fixtures including sconces on the backwall on both sides of the large symmetrical windows and pendants over the island.
Storage, style, prep space, and lighting equal the perfect kitchen.
Kitchen Must Haves
Sarah Robertson of Studio Dearborn shares her top tips for kitchen design.
“I’ve always loved antiques and spent several years taking courses at NYU in furniture and decorative arts. I’ll often dig through my old books looking for reference points for millwork details.”
“My ‘style’ for any given kitchen evolves from taking a deep dive into the aesthetics that my clients appreciate, and the architecture of their home. But I think my kitchens do have commonalities across projects: restrained and thoughtful aesthetic details, minimal wall cabinets, and a mix of finishes, metals, and genres.”
Natural Light and Smart Storage
“I love natural light, I love open, social kitchens and I love smart storage. You need smart storage if you want the kitchen to feel light and airy and feel connected to the rest of the home.”
Fun and Functional
“The functional aspects are going to really make you love your kitchen. In many cases functional aspects help drive getting what you want from an aesthetic standpoint by making the storage you have work extra hard. It allows more windows, more openness, room for art, bigger doorways so the challenge is always to make the most of what you have.”
Designer: Sarah Robertson, Studio Dearborn
Architect: Jaclyn Tyler, Tyler Architecture