Modern open-plan kitchen in city house

This remodeled kitchen in a city house is a modern composition that teams oak veneer and white lacquer with pops of yellow in overhead cabinets

In this kitchen by architect William Massey, while countertop, floor, flooring, interior design, kitchen, living room, real estate, room, table
In this kitchen by architect William Massey, while the kitchen area is 27ft long, the work triangles are relatively tight, making it easy for the owners to prepare meals and clean up. Entertaining is also a breeze, thanks to the open-plan design.

Moving from the suburbs to the city involves a certain change of lifestyle, but it's even more dramatic when you swap a 1920s Arts and Crafts-style home for a contemporary city house.

But that's exactly what the owners of this house did. Architect William Massey says his clients wanted to embrace their new city lifestyle, and had been looking for a modern, loft-style home.

"The house they found was built in 2000, but although they loved the location and the outlook, the interior didn't provide a loft space. The living and dining rooms and kitchen were all separate spaces closed off from each other. However, there were pleasant views out large windows at the front and back, which we could maximize by completely opening up the space on the main living level."

Removing the walls between the rooms, and moving the mechanical services created the generous, uncluttered living environment the owners required. But Massey says it was still important to define the various areas within this space.

Modern open plan kitchen in city house architecture, cabinetry, countertop, cuisine classique, interior design, kitchen, room, gray, brown
Modern open plan kitchen in city house

"We chose to position the kitchen in the middle, where it helps to separate the various seating and dining areas. But working out what form the kitchen would take was a challenge. We played with 3-D computer models, looking at the different massing possibilities for the kitchen, which needed to be highly functional as well as eye catching.

"Initially, the design focused on three 9ft-square cabinet components one each for storage, cooking and entertainment. We then decided we didn't need all that mass, so we carved pieces away, gradually carving off more and more, reducing the mass to the essentials."

Massey says the island was designed on a similar basis hollowing out a large cube eroded the mass so that it was not too bulky. This created niches for cookbooks and storage. It also gave the island a sculptural look that's in keeping with the overall aesthetic.

To maintain the contemporary feel, a light oak veneer is teamed with crisp white lacquer. This combination avoids the monotony of using a single material in such a pivotal space. For added visual drama, overhead cabinets and a high shelving unit are painted yellow.

The peninsula in this kitchen serves as a cabinetry, countertop, cuisine classique, floor, hardwood, interior design, kitchen, room, gray, brown
The peninsula in this kitchen serves as a buffet for the dining area. The waterfall countertop on this unit wraps around a wine refrigerator.Top and above: Both the cabinetry and island appear to have pieces carved out from the original volumes, which gives them a highly sculptural look.

"The yellow adds a pop of color, but is not a distraction," says the architect. "Using a 70% gloss avoids reflections but ensures it has a lively sheen."

Functionality is also assured, with extra storage provided in cabinetry on the opposite wall. This incorporates a coat closet, slide-out pantries and a home office area for laptops and phone charging.

Credit list

William Massey AIA, Massey Associates Architects (Chicago)
Cabinet company
New Style Cabinets;
Painted; reconstituted oak veneer
Halo recessed incandescent; M26 Studio pendant in dining room
Waste disposal
Interior designer
David MacKenzie,
WZ Home Improvement, Inc
Countertops and backsplash
Dornbracht Elio
Oven and dishwasher
Water dispenser
Mountain Plumbing

Story by: Colleen Hawkes

30 May, 2014

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