Center of operations

Designed for an extended family, this house features a kitchen within a kitchen, making it suitable for a single chef or many cooks working simultaneously

View of a kitchen architectural plans. area, artwork, black and white, design, diagram, drawing, engineering, floor plan, line, line art, plan, product, product design, technical drawing, white
View of a kitchen architectural plans.

Architects are often asked to design large kitchens where more than one person can work at the same time. The designer of this house not only had to accommodate such a request he also had to ensure the kitchen would work for a single cook.

Architect Tim Bjella of Bjella Architecture says the house was designed for the Jain family an extended family group comprising three couples and children.

"The kitchen needed to be large enough for the family, and it had to cater to a variety of different cooking styles," he says. "The kitchen also had to complement the highly sculptural architecture of the house."

Kapil Jain, one of the owners, says the family prefers to cook Indian food, which requires a lot of different ingredients and spices.

"Every dish is cooked in a different way. At any one time, we might have three cooktops in action," he says. "At other times there might be just one person cooking."

View of open-plan kitchen area with a living interior design, living room, lobby, orange
View of open-plan kitchen area with a living area which features a curved sofa, carpeted living area floors, tiled kitchen floors, granite countertops, cabinetry, lighting, appliances, bar stools.

The solution was to design a kitchen within a kitchen. A central U-shaped kitchen sits within a large semicircular island, with additional kitchen facilities positioned around the outside.

"We separated the tasks so there are several different zones in the kitchen," says Bjella. "For example, a person working in the center has a close work triangle or in this case a trapezoid. Outside of this space there is another food preparation area, a large cooking zone along one wall, and a cleanup area against another wall."

Bjella says specifying a variety of modular appliances also helped decentralize the tasks. And providing plenty of counter space allows ample room for food preparation and serving of the buffet-style meals preferred by the owners.

Visually, the kitchen provides a sense of theater that's in keeping with the sculptural look of the house. Curved, tapered soffits form a large ellipse above the kitchen, helping to define its position within the open-plan living area.

"The large soffits also lower the scale of the kitchen, making it a more comfortable space," says Bjella. "We were constantly balancing the desire for a very contemporary design with the need to provide a warm, welcoming interior."

View of a kitchen which features a U-shaped ceiling, interior design, lighting, lobby, table, wall, blue
View of a kitchen which features a U-shaped work area, granite countertops, cabinetry, tiled floors, lighting, appliances, bar stools, sinks and faucets.

To this end, there is a mix of crisp stainless steel elements and quilted maple cabinetry. The cabinetry beside the main cooking center features pressed stainless steel, which gives it an industrial feel. A custom-designed 8ft-long stainless steel hood with two chimneys reinforces the high-tech commercial look.

"On the other hand, the quilted maple cabinetry has a very warm tone that counters the cool appearance of the steel," says Bjella.

The kitchen is also enlivened by Blue Pearl granite countertops and the blue-painted soffits and sculptural elements, which introduce a jewel-like quality to the space.

Credit list

Kitchen manufacturer
Faux finishing
David Lewis, 3-D Interiors
Crema Luna stone
Countertops and backsplash
Grohe Ladylux Plus and Grohe Ladylux Café
Custom design by Tim Bjella Arteriors Architecture
Coffee bar
Emerald Builders
Citilights Lighting
Quilted maple; stainless steel; glass
Hot water systems
Franke Little Butler
Trash compactor
Kitchen Aid

Story by: Colleen Hawkes

Photography by: Brian Droege

01 Dec, 2009

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