Story: Interview by Diane Carroll | Styling: Diane Carroll |
At Home in Arkansas:
The adage that a picture says a thousand words definitely applies to the before-and-after photos of this kitchen. I can see that the layout of the room is the same, but the transformation from dark and traditional to light and modern is dramatic.
Designer Susan Latta:
I’m finding that many of my clients want to go that direction, with less clutter, more calm, cleaner lines, subtle shades, and an orderly, easy-to-clean space.
AHIA: Was that the case for these homeowners?
SL: Yes, that was a top priority. My clients, Dennis and Marcia Davis, were newlyweds and emptynesters when I began working with them. Marcia had moved into Dennis’ house in Rogers, and they wanted to redesign the kitchen to be more open, orderly and functional.
AHIA: What were some of the issues they were having with functionality?
SL: They both like to cook wonderful gourmet meals and they’re wine connoisseurs. They enjoy having friends and family over and cooking and entertaining. But when they cooked together, they kept bumping into each other, and the space felt very inefficient.
We all know guests always congregate in the kitchen, which the peninsula discouraged. And aesthetically, the Davises felt that the dark cabinetry, dark trim, and dark floors didn’t create the atmosphere they had in mind for entertaining.
AHIA: How did you manage to make the room feel so much larger without adding to the space?
SL: We took the entire peninsula out so that the kitchen is totally open to the breakfast space, and we removed portions of walls separating the kitchen from the living room so there’s more light entering the area and a better flow for guests. We also lengthened the kitchen by accessing several feet of unused space under a stairway. Those few moves gained enough additional room to create more functional work zones.
The reconfiguring made it necessary for us to replace the cabinetry, and I extended the new cabinets all the way to the ceiling. That creates a cleaner look—if the cabinets stop short of the ceiling, people think they need to decorate up there. I used a dark band of trim at the top of the cabinets, and that draws your eye up, which enhances the sense of openness.
AHIA: The light color palette you chose also adds to the spacious look.
SL: It does, and when they showed me some magazine images of rooms they liked, I could see that they were interested in light cabinetry with rich accents, like the glass mosaic tile we chose for the backsplash.
We used book-matched maple cabinets with a light finish—they were meant to look like bleached wood. We lightened up the walls and painted the crown molding in the breakfast room the same color as the walls to create a neutral backdrop. Same for the floors: we took them from dark to a light neutral by painting the pavers with a durable finish.
AHIA: Are the two cooks now able to work together in the kitchen without bumping into each other?
SL: Designing the room to incorporate two sinks was a key element in solving that issue. We added a sink on the island and created a prep zone, so Marcia can be chopping vegetables while Dennis is cooking on the range. The improved flow makes this a virtually bump-free kitchen now.
Design Susan Latta, CKD, CBD, CGP, Susan Latta Design, Fayetteville
Contractor Precision Custom Building, Inc., Bella Vista
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, locations statewide
Barstools Brashears, Springdale
Cabinet hardware Hearth & Home, Lowell
Dining table, chairs Lacuna Modern Interiors, Fayetteville
Lighting Lewis Lighting & Home, Benton
Painted finishes-cabinetry, floor Johannessen Painting, Springdale
Plumbing fixtures, sinks Plumb Perfect, Springdale
Tile-backsplash, fireplace surround Deco Pro, Fayetteville