Red or white? Refined rustic kitchen by architect Howard J Backen

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Refined rustic kitchen by architect Howard J Backen
View of kitchen, great room and wine cellar. dining room, estate, interior design, living room, real estate, resort, brown
View of kitchen, great room and wine cellar. Designed to fit in with it's wine country surroundings. Wood is repeated in the design, included in the floors and furniture.

Spectacular settings demand architectural responses that complement the surroundings rather than compete with them.

With its expansive outlook over vineyards to a distant mountain range, this house in the Napa Valley wine country was well suited to a refined rustic design and palette.

Architect Howard Backen of Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects says that the owners wanted an open living area, with an integrated kitchen, dining and living rooms, and an adjacent wine cellar.

"The need for a great room and wine cellar, and the location, all influenced the architecture, in particular the exposed timber structure. This in turn helped to determine the choice of painted cabinets. The owners didn't want a white house or an all-wood interior. So we limited the wood mainly to the structural elements, and ensured the vertical inserts between were either painted plaster or cabinetry. The blue-gray color of the cabinets was chosen to add visual depth and to work with the wine cellar."


View of kitchen, great room and wine cellar. architecture, cabinetry, ceiling, countertop, cuisine classique, daylighting, home, interior design, kitchen, lighting, under cabinet lighting, wood, brown, black
View of kitchen, great room and wine cellar. Designed to fit in with it's wine country surroundings. Wood is repeated in the design, included in the floors and furniture.

The cellar, on one side of the kitchen, is flanked by glass-fronted display cabinets for stemware. And a heavy glass door to the climate-controlled cellar allows a view of the wine bottles and shelving.

A large copper hood with an aged patina makes the cooking center the focal point of the kitchen. Visually, the scale of the hood was also designed to balance the fireplace at the opposite end of the room.

Metal bands with a similar patina feature on a suspended wood lighting rack above a large island. The rack provides both downlights and uplights to illuminate the ceiling.

Stainless steel countertops were specified for the rear countertop, but the architect chose a butcher's block top in end-grain walnut for the island. Wood also features on the corners of the island.

View of kitchen, great room and wine cellar. dining room, estate, interior design, living room, real estate, resort, brown
View of kitchen, great room and wine cellar. Designed to fit in with it's wine country surroundings. Wood is repeated in the design, included in the floors and furniture.

"Essentially, the column-style corners of the island are structural elements, so they feature the same Douglas fir as the rest of the structure," says Backen. "But again, they are relieved by painted cabinets in between."

A separate pantry serves as a second kitchen for food preparation and clean-up it has sinks, dishwashers and ample storage. More storage is also provided by cabinets in a breakfast room to the right of the kitchen. This area doubles as a second television room.

Nov 30, 2011
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