Warm, welcoming kitchen remodel by Shirley McFarlane

Wood types harmonize in this Shirley McFarlane remodel
Story by: Charles Moxham
New cabinetry in this kitchen remodel features cornices cabinetry, countertop, cuisine classique, interior design, kitchen, real estate, room, white
New cabinetry in this kitchen remodel features cornices in keeping with the existing ceiling trim. Perimeter cabinets and the island share the same transitional panel style and overlaid door construction but achieve different personalities through different custom finishes. The design is by Shirley McFarlane.

One way to meld a kitchen remodel with an adjacent family space is to bring a furniture-like aesthetic to the cabinetry. This approach works best as with any collection when there is a balance between the points of difference and the aspects that draw everything together.

For this project, designer Shirley McFarlane was asked to reinvent an existing white kitchen that worked well enough but lacked personality. In addition, an angled peninsula had resulted in a poor connection to the adjacent family room and also confined a breakfast nook set beneath the windows within the kitchen.

The remodel has transformed the flow and feel of the space, with the peninsula removed and a new, larger breakfast area sited between the kitchen and family room, says McFarlane.

"There was also a desk space on the other side of the kitchen, but this was redundant as the owner already had a spacious home office.

"I had the existing cabinets stripped out and designed new perimeter cabinetry, including a stand-alone coffee station at the end of the room and a separate bar and entertainment center where the desk used to be. A central island replaces the awkward peninsula."

kitchen remodel by Shirley McFarlane cabinetry, ceiling, countertop, cuisine classique, hardwood, interior design, kitchen, room, wood flooring, gray
kitchen remodel by Shirley McFarlane

All the cabinetry features soft transitional paneling, classic cornices and solid, traditional construction. The doors are overlaid on the front of the cabinet carcasses, rather than being set back into them. This construction, together with concealed hinges, results in a cleaner, fuss-free aesthetic, says McFarlane.

However, while sharing the same almost translucent quartzite countertop material and panel styles, the wall cabinets and island also achieve different, albeit complementary, looks.

The difference is due to the selection of wood species and surface finishes, says the designer.

"All the perimeter cabinetry is in butternut wood, with an aged light honey finish. This uncommon wood has a less formal look than mahogany and cherry butternut has a more visible, transitional grain."

However, the cabinetry was hand planed before the light honey finish was applied this created a depth of tone as the smoothed butternut wood more readily absorbed the finish. This in turn introduced a subtle tonal connection between the disparate woods.

Avid entertainers, the owners of this remodeled kitchen cabinetry, chest of drawers, countertop, cuisine classique, furniture, interior design, kitchen, wood, wood stain, brown, gray
Avid entertainers, the owners of this remodeled kitchen wanted a separate bar-entertainment cabinet. A beverage cooler and wine fridge are set under the counter, while side panels and drawers house plates and platters. Open shelves display glasses and antique decanters. The design is by Shirley MacFarlane.

Contrasting this, the substantial island is in ebonized lyptus, for a dark character finish.

"To play down the length and mass of the island and add to the sense of it being a piece of furniture, we added a raised central counter, which also ensures plenty of leg room for people sitting on the counter stools," says the designer.

Other shared elements help to draw the kitchen together. A classic crackle-glaze Sonoma tile in an eye-catching Broken Joint pattern forms the backsplash in the bar area and is repeated on the opposite wall. Display shelves also feature in the upper reaches of the cabinetry on both sides of the now balanced kitchen.

"Connections between the kitchen and family room were equally important, with the inspiration for the tones and textures of the kitchen drawn from the stone fireplace," says McFarlane. "In addition, the furniture-like appeal of the finishes is enhanced by integrating most appliances into the woodwork."

The new kitchen is the antithesis of the old, with impersonal cabinetry replaced with rich wood surfaces that achieve both connection and difference and tone with the existing oak floors.

Jun 19, 2013

Credit list

Kitchen designer
Shirley McFarlane NKBA, McFarlane Design (Atlanta, GA)
Kitchen manufacturer
Draper DBS
Island cabinetry in lyptus wood with ebonized finish; perimeter cabinetry in butternut wood with aged light honey finish
Madreperola quartzite
Island pendants from Currey & Company and Redefined Home Boutique, Atlanta, GA; family room chandelier from Restoration Hardware
KWC Systema from
Warming drawer
Wine refrigerator, beverage refrigerator
Fisher & Paykel, Miele
Interior designer
Pat McNeill
Scott Reid Associates
Red oak, existing
Sonoma glass tile in Broken Joint pattern, color River, from Specialty Tile
Kitchen sink
Kohler, stainless steel
Oven, cooktop, ventilation
Refrigeration, ice machine
Coffee machine
Waste disposal
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