At Home in Arkansas: What was this kitchen like before the renovation?
Designer Helen Lockhart: It was very dated and didn’t reflect the homeowners’ style. It had green laminate and lots of honey-toned wood. The island was a funny shape and it wasn’t very useful. The color scheme was hunter green and there was green-and-white striped wallpaper. We left nothing behind except the refrigerator. We gutted the room.
What was most important to the homeowners, Lee and Dr. Michael Koone, in the redesign?
They wanted a fresh look—something lighter than what they had before. They have a beautiful view, and the previous cabinets had wood moulding that went across the bay window over the sink and really enclosed that area. They wanted to open that up and accentuate the bay window. Michael is an avid birdwatcher, and they didn’t want anything to obstruct that view. We even made sure there was a place for him to keep his binoculars over the kitchen sink.
You built this design from scratch. Where did you start?
I started with how they live their lives. They love to cook together, so that was something to keep in mind and base the kitchen around. I designed it to get a lot of use, and to be used by more than one person. We knew we wanted to do honed granite, because it’s beautiful. It has more of a matte, flat finish instead of being shiny. Then the lighting evolved from the granite we selected, and we just went from there.
Why custom-built cabinets?
Pre-fabricated cabinets are great, but for this particular kitchen, we really wanted something that reflected the homeowners’ personalities. We felt that custom-built would accomplish the look they were going for. It was a big kitchen with a big island and we wanted something big and different. We wanted to make sure the kitchen was conducive to how they lived in it. And it worked!
The design blends a fresh look with rustic touches. For example, the island is new, but looks aged. How was this look achieved?
I wanted the island to look like an antique piece of furniture. Mike Brudjar of Brudjar’s Custom Painting painted it with several layers of stain, and after each layer, he rubbed certain areas. It resulted in something that looked like it came from an antique store. It has modern lines, but it’s got that aging that gives it a lot of character. It contributes to the reclaimed European look of the entire room.
How did you develop the concept for the cut-out kitchen cabinets?
I saw that in a magazine months before I got this project. I held onto it because I knew there would be someone it would be perfect for. Scot Kerr at J&S Cabinet Concepts replicated it from the magazine and it turned out perfect. He is an artist.
What are some other special touches in this room?
Both sinks are hammered copper. That’s a unique touch that helps give the room that overall appearance of being aged and having character. The knobs on the cabinets are glass. The knob bases are oil-rubbed bronze, and the color shows through the clear glass. It’s a really neat effect. And the tile around the window over the kitchen sink is crushed glass. That’s another unique, unexpected element that adds a lot of style to the room. The other tile on the walls is also glass, and the darker tiles are crushed glass that echoes the tile around the window.
This was an extensive remodel. How did you feel about the end result?
It’s a great reflection of Lee and her style. It was such a fun project, and it was an honor to work with the Koones. They are really neat, down-to- earth people.
Interior design Helen Lockhart, Red Chaise Designs, Conway, (501) 908-9388, redchaise.com
Contractor Richie Hambuchen, Hambuchen Custom Homes, Conway, (501) 472-8388
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800; North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988; Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Cabinetry J&S Cabinet Concepts, Benton, (501) 776-1833
Countertops Moix Marbleworks Inc., Conway, (501) 329-4883
Fixtures Bedrock International, Little Rock, (501) 455-8380, bedrockintl.com
Paint Benjamin Moore, locations statewide, benjaminmoore.com
Staining, island Brudjar’s Custom Painting, Conway, (501) 472-6160
Tile Bedrock International, Little Rock, (501) 455-8380, bedrockintl.com