Niche cabinet solutions abound in this kitchen renovation

This kitchen makeover results in a light, luxurious kitchen that complements the classic home and packs a wealth of functionality

​​​​​​​This kitchen reflects a rich materiality, with touches bar stool, cabinetry, ceiling, countertop, dining room, floor, timber flooring, furniture, home, house, interior design, kitchen, kitchen stove, stool, table, wood flooring, Studio Dearborn
​​​​​​​This kitchen reflects a rich materiality, with touches of brass seen in the tapware, cabinet handles, window latches, light fittings and the rustic brass wire cabinet grills. Metal laminate faces on the fridge and oven connect with the metalwork on the island stools, helping give the design the light-industrial accent that the owner/designer wanted. The island benchtop is in a dark-stained walnut, as are cabinet interiors and display shelves.

What does luxurious imply when referencing a kitchen? Beautiful, tactile surfaces? Abundant natural light? Great work triangles and plenty of custom storage? This kitchen achieves all of this while deftly marrying to its period home.

The reworked kitchen forms part of designer Sarah Robertson’s own home – a 1920s Craftsman that has been in her husband’s family since 1940. The original kitchen had already been replaced in the late 1980s, but the layout had been choppy, dark and closed off from other rooms.

To provide sufficient space for an enlarged kitchen-family living zone that also opens to the dining area, Robertson first removed a former maid’s room and an existing bathroom.

“We wanted the new kitchen to feel original to this quaint home, which boasts original brass electrical switches, hardwood floors, plaster arches and French windows throughout,” she says. 

“We also really love industrial metal finishes, and so wanted to mix blackened steel and patinated brass into the kitchen finishes.”

​​​​​​​For this project, designer Sarah Robertson – also Kitchen, cabinetry, countertop, floor, flooring, furniture, home, house, interior design, kitchen, table, tile, wood flooring, Studio Dearborn
​​​​​​​For this project, designer Sarah Robertson – also the homeowner – borrowed space from existing rooms and added more windows to create a larger, more light-filled workspace. Additional windows with black stained frames and similar latches were matched to the existing windows. A ceiling rangehood was utilised to allow the cooktop to be under one of the windows, so the chef can cook and look out to the deck at the same time.

The designer/homeowner also wanted the kitchen to be flooded with light all through the day, which required windows on all three walls.

“To achieve these things, we introduced new windows into the kitchen – specified with black stained frames, unlacquered brass latches and window stays to match the original windows in the home,” the designer says. “To maximise window height, we added steel plates over window headers to meet structural codes.”

Modern ventilation technology allowed for the cooktop to be placed in front of a window, providing the cook with views while cooking.

Another key part of the material palette, a character walnut island benchtop brings warmth and patina to the workspace. And the interiors of all the cabinetry and bar cabinets are crafted from the same dark walnut, as are the floating wall display shelves, bringing harmony and consistency in the design.

“Semi-industrial metal touches – both warm and cold – abound,” says Robertson. “Vintage industrial stools have a patina on their legs that matches the custom graphite laminate featured on both the front of the fridge and the oven door.

“Plus, hand-patinated brass wire cabinet door mesh matches the brass hardware, and window accents and lends a rustic feel. Custom light fixtures throughout the kitchen merge the patinated steel, warm brass and walnut.”

​​​​​​​This completely reinvented kitchen is a few short bar stool, cabinetry, countertop, dining room, floor, flooring, furniture, home, house, interior design, kitchen, Studio Dearborn
​​​​​​​This completely reinvented kitchen is a few short steps from the dining area. With the addition of the new windows the kitchen is open and light-filled.

“The countertop-to-ceiling splashback was a challenge,” says Robertson. “In the end, we chose a custom-mixed dark grout to pull the Asian statuary tiles together with the perimeter granite benchtops, at the same time adding a layer of texture to the entire kitchen.

“Since there was very little wall area in the kitchen, window casings were eliminated, allowing for more surface area for the tile to carry visual impact.”

The kitchen is as rich in storage solutions as it is in material presence. To ensure that not a centimetre of space was wasted, the cabinetry was fitted with organisational elements – for example, benchtop-to-ceiling cabinetry flanks the sink utilising valuable corner space often wasted in kitchen layouts.

Individual custom storage solutions include a special drawer for tea storage; a deep, internally divided drawer for pots and saucepans; and a toekick drawer for the cat’s food bowl that slides away out of sight when not in use.

Technological helpers in the kitchen include a toe-kick water valve for hands-free tap use, an in-drawer charger outlet and an automated opener for the waste and compost drawer.

Credit list

Kitchen designer
Sarah Robertson, Studio Dearborn
White, painted, by Schrocks of Walnut Creek
Garbage disposal
Futuro Futuro
White Oak, existing
Lighting design
Molly O’shea Ryan
Perimeter – Get Mist granite; island – walnut
Watermark faucet, with Tapmaster foot pedal; Newport Brass filtered water dispenser
GE Profile
Smart technology
Charging outlet docking drawer
US NKBA Kitchen Design Competition – Winner

Story by: Charles Moxham

Photography by: Adam Kane Macchia, Macchia Photo; and Tim Lenz

05 Jul, 2019

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