Kitchen Remodel: Chase Away the Shadows
Clever lighting strategies and creative cabinetry energize a contemporary kitchen and bath.
Synopsis: A trio of Bay Area architects bought this neglected Modernist house — and brought the outside in. They used materials emblematic of the era when this California ranch house was built — concrete, plywood, frosted glass, ceramic tile — in rooms with layers of balanced light. Among their solutions in the kitchen were a lower, wider island and a unified palette of shapes, colors and finishes; and in the bath, vertical sidelites around the mirror and a wet-location-rated fluorescent fixture over the tub.
Bring the outside in” has been a Modernist mantra since the early days of sliding-glass doors and real-estate marketing campaigns. But a peek inside the kitchen of this low-slung thoroughbred California ranch house left the distinct impression that the outside was still out there. A trio of Bay Area architects — Eliza Hart, Stuart Wright, and Alex Bergtraun — bought this neglected Modernist house with these goals in mind: Respect its original intent, and recycle it into a new century. Their approach was to use in a unified manner the materials emblematic of the era when the house was built — concrete, plywood, frosted glass, ceramic tile — in rooms with layers of balanced light.
The tyrant in the existing kitchen was the sink island, with its awkward top shelf dividing the kitchen/ dining space into two rooms. Removing this island would make the room feel larger, but the post embedded in it was still going to be there. The decision to double the size of the island and eliminate the upper shelf is the linchpin of the new plan.
Balancing the light in the bath
One of the keys to creating a comfortable room is to have light sources from several sides. A fire-lookout tower is at one end of this scale; a cave is at the other. Most rooms fall somewhere in between. In the hall bath, two illuminating strategies team up with the existing north window to balance the light.
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