Kitchen island and formal dining table become one feature furniture piece in this new kitchen

Every element in this distinctive kitchen is a design response to a restriction or challenge the architect faced on the narrow site

Including an island has become almost a prerequisite for any new kitchen design. 

But what do you do when the space you have for kitchen, dining and living areas just isn't big enough for an island too?

For the kitchen featured here, architect Neal Schwartz came up with a novel solution, creating a furniture piece that can be used for both formal dining as well as for food preparation.

The kitchen is part of major work Schwartz undertook on a dilapidated San Francisco Victorian cottage.

"We lifted the original cottage up to insert a two-car garage beneath and then added a new house at the back," he says.

Installing shelving rather than upper cabinets results in architecture, ceiling, floor, flooring, handrail, hardwood, house, interior design, laminate flooring, loft, stairs, wall, wood, wood flooring, gray
Installing shelving rather than upper cabinets results in less of a boxy feel for this kitchen. Architect Neal Schwartz says that using strong textural tiles on the full wall behind also takes the focus off the kitchens functional aspects and allowed the other materials to be toned back.

"So you come through what looks to be a Victorian home into a much more modern space. You enter into what is essentially the kitchen, so a lot of the design had to do with making the kitchen feel like a nice public space."

The owners like to entertain, so the kitchen also needed to be the centrepiece of that level of the home.

One immediate challenge was the restricted space. Like many of the city's urban blocks, this one was only 7.6m wide.

Plus there were planning department- imposed setbacks on both sides, which meant even less room for the kitchen, dining and living areas.

The height of this table is set in architecture, ceiling, dining room, home, house, interior design, living room, real estate, room, window, gray
The height of this table is set in between the normal height for a table and that for a kitchen benchtop, allowing it to be used for both dining and food preparation. Elevated cutting boards can also be placed on the table to protect the top and provide a comfortable working height.

"There wasn't enough space for a large island like the owners had in their previous home, so we combined the idea of a kitchen island with a dining room table."

For day-to-day living, it becomes a family gathering spot or dining table, but it also provides a place for food preparation in front of the kitchen just like an island.

To help the table perform this double function, Schwartz set the height in between the normal benchtop and table heights. Elevated cutting boards can also be placed on the table to raise the table to counter height when preparing food.

Although having no island reduces the amount of cabinet space available, there's still plenty of storage in the run of cabinetry along the kitchen's length and the pantry space alongside the ovens and fridge on the adjacent wall.

Credit list

Architect and kitchen and interior designer
Wooden flooring
Walnut and rift oak by Floorpros
Cabinet company
John Dowdall Custom cabinets
Overhead cabinets/shelving
Custom, oak
Elite, Juno
Fleetwood, Marvin
Gelling & Judd Inc
Ann Sacks, Clodagh
Base cabinet finish
Painted conversion varnish
Quartz from Walker Zanger
Island/dining table
Custom, oak

Story by: Paul Taylor

30 Aug, 2017

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