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Durham, N.C. Residence

Tonic Design + Tonic Construction

Project Name

Durham, N.C. Residence

Project Status



540 sq. feet


  • Tonic Design/Tonic Construction
  • Tonic Design/Tonic Construction
  • mes West/JWest Productions



Room or Space




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Project Description

2005 CHDA
Custom Kitchen / Merit Award

This kitchen focuses 100 percent on the owners and their family—where they gather, how she cooks, and what his design sensibilities are. The project was infused at every step with the owner's love of modern architecture and the lessons he learned about clean lines, simplicity of materials, and the efficient use of space from time spent living in Asia. The architects designed an airy story-and-a-half room that relies on natural maple for warmth and modern concrete surfaces for modernity, while providing views to the outdoors that blur the division of interior and exterior spaces.

The kitchen looks so simple, architect Vince Petrarca says, but that simplicity was hard-won. One of the project's most interesting features—and the most difficult to achieve—is its many confluent planes. “Everything had to line up in this kitchen. If it didn't line up, it had to be redone. There are connections made with those lines,” says Petrarca. “If anything is the barest measurement off, it will cause contrast.”

The perfectly executed lines are the result of several cycles of trial and error, including demolition and reconstruction. A close relationship and open communication had to be maintained with every subcontractor to ensure that each element was placed just right, allowing each plane to line up precisely.

Several of the project's elements caught the judges' attention, particularly the treatment of the gas fireplace and the cantilevered dining table. Extending from the middle of the room's north wall, the table's two thick slabs of maple are supported by one leg. The channel down the table's center directs the eye to the fireplace situated at the same level as the table's surface and framed by monolithic concrete plates.
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