2004 Watermark Awards
Best Kitchen Remodel in a Home 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet
Almost like a theater in the round, this kitchen gives the owner, who is an enthusiastic cook and host, an arena for his culinary legerdemain. At the same time, the kitchen is designed to keep guests at a safe distance from all the slicing and sauteing. Best of all, it's a kitchen that performs equally well as center stage for daily life and as a dramatic backdrop for the owner's parties.
In remaking the kitchen, SKB Architects placed it in the middle of the public areas of the house, with the entry, living room, and dining room flowing around it. Because it's always front and center, the kitchen was designed to add to the home's style and beauty. Its rich palette of materials, strong forms, carefully crafted details, and dramatic lighting set the stage for the entire living area.
The kitchen, in fact, sits on a kind of stage--its floor is a 6-inch-high pad of radiant-heated concrete with a steel rim to signal the step down. The added height creates a psychological barrier to the kitchen that discourages guests from entering the workspace. It also raises the height of the island counter, so that from the living room it is bar height, but on the kitchen side it is work height. A small countertop cabinet screens the sink from view.
The judges particularly praised the architect's "sensitive and artistic use of materials." Dark-stained cherry cabinetry is topped with a matte black Richlite countertop (a composite material made of paper fiber). The warmth of the cabinetry contrasts with stainless steel appliances, a custom stainless surround that trims out the built-in refrigerator, and a steel sliding door to a small pantry that borrows a bit of space from the entry foyer. The room gains texture from recycled-glass tiles and a sculptural stucco wall. The wall's deep window augments natural light that filters in from a clerestory. The dropped ceiling over the kitchen reinforces its boundaries and contains recessed and pendant lights that make certain this jewel-like kitchen is always in the spotlight.