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Written by Michael Walsh
Kitchen Designer: Richard P. Landon, CKD
Contractor: SG & Associates
As the recently resuscitated kitchen in Jim Mendes’ 1927 Tudor-style home in Seattle attests, space is as much a state of mind as a matter of square footage...At 18x10 feet, one-third of which is devoted to an eating area, the kitchen is the same size it was before being gutted and outfitted with new custom maple cabinets, granite tile countertops, and updated appliances. Although its miniscule dimensions remain the same, the kitchen’s demeanor changed dramatically...[The] improvements can be attributed to Landon’s space-expanding manipulations that make the kitchen roomier and more responsive to the informal way Jim cooks and entertains...French doors in the eating area...blur the boundaries between the indoors and out and...bring in daylight...making the brick patio and the backyard part of the kitchen.
The article describes the importance of properly locating the refrigerator. “People forget that certain objects have visual weight and mass,” Landon explains. “Putting the refrigerator along one of the long walls would have imposed on the space and prevented the long sight lines that make the kitchen seem larger.”
It continues by describing some key aspects of the kitchen's layout. In particular, it notes an alcove, both functional and beautiful, lined with rhubarb red wall covering. The alcove provides a punch of color and a platform for displaying decorative platters and serving pieces. The lighted space at the top of the alcove and the reflected polished granite backsplash add depth, dimension, and drama to the wall...Surprisingly, the alcove is only 16-1/2 inches deep, but the easily accessible area includes an ample pantry unit, a glass-and-steel cookbook shelf, a wide utensil drawer, a handy chef’s sink with a garbage disposal next to the range, and a “chef’s drawer” for wines, oils and vinegars. “The range is only about two steps across the room from the main sink,” Landon notes, “but think about the times you want to rinse off a spoon, drain the pasta in a colander, fill or empty a pot of water, or get rid of the potato peelings.”
After discussing other features of the room, the article continues by describing the elements that Landon employed to emphasize the room’s visual continuity. Granite tile backsplashes, countertops with stainless-steel edges (a signature detail by contractor Scott Gjesdahl, who also designed the exhaust hood), and slate-look ceramic floor tie together the cooking and eating areas. The writer notes that Landon aligned the top of the buffet and the bottom of the hutch-like unit with the sill of an adjacent window above the sink to produce a continuous horizontal alignment of elements. “It’s not something most people would notice,” Landon admits, “but it provides a understated visual harmony between the cooking and eating zones.” Just as subtle but no less effective, the vertical framing of the cabinet doors is proportional to the horizontal elements of the window.
The writer ends by quoting the homeowner:
“What’s amazing,” Jim says, “is that the kitchen, small as it is,
has become the gathering place for the whole house. I think that’s because
it works so well on so many levels. Now, for the first time, I have a kitchen
that actually works with me instead of against me.”
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