Adair Place Project: Kitchen

When you're building a custom dream home, you must have a magnitude of patience and perseverance.  Many of my clients possess these qualities.  However, my clients, Bernice and David, had these qualities in abundance.  They first began building this spectacular Tuscan-style property on the Tennessee River about five years before I ever met them.  They had already been through several versions of kitchens at that point.  Each one was designed and delivered, and then deemed "not worthy" of becoming part of their amazing kitchen space.  They had all of the right ingredients going for them already...spectacular vaulted ceiling details, beautiful arched windows, unbelievable views of the river and enough space to have at least two kitchen islands.  However, they relentlessly pursued their idea of perfection in terms of the kitchen cabinetry.  While I'm sad that my clients had to go through all of that disappointment before coming to me, I am very appreciative of the opportunity to finally help them to realize their dream kitchen.  

Bernice had long been an admirer of Clive Christian kitchens.  She had torn out pages from magazine advertisements for many years.  Living in Tennessee, she hadn't really considered the availability of it through me here in Atlanta until she was frustrated by the lack of sophistication she was experiencing with other local cabinet companies.  Luckily, she hired a couple of great interior designers, Scott Hall and Mark Hulsey.  Together, they found me and brought me onboard to work on this great project.

The first thing that jumped out to me from their previous kitchen design was that their space was much too large to have only one island.  Sometimes this can work if it's a long kitchen and you can create a long island to go with it, but this kitchen was more square in shape, which made the island large and square.  When the kitchen island is that large, not only does it lead to seams in the countertop material (unless using wood or a man made material), but the island becomes an eyesore.  Like a huge dance floor right in the middle of their kitchen.  So one of the first suggestions I had for them was to break up this generous space by creating two islands and dividing up the space with work zones.   The main island would be closest to the range and refrigerators (forming a nice work triangle) and feature a large prep sink.  She would have a pull-out trash, lots of cabinets and drawers for cooking utensils, etc. so that this island could really take center stage for cooking tasks.  Also, one of Bernice's requests was that both islands have some seating capability so that her grandkids could pull up a counter stool when helping to bake cookies or that she could sit while doing longer prep tasks.  So I provided an overhang at each end for that purpose.  In contrast, the second island is designed to encourage guests to linger without getting in the cook’s way.  There could be ample counter stools for sitting and additional serving areas if they were to entertain buffet style.

Not only does this incredible kitchen have two islands, but they still had enough room to have a small peninsula area for guest beverages.  The kitchen was designed to have several steps down to the adjoin great room and at one edge of that space was a drop off that needed to either have railing or cabinetry.  By putting cabinetry there with refrigerator drawers for drinks, a bar sink,  and an icemaker, Bernice had an additional area from which to serve guests. 

The main sink under the window serves as the principal clean-up area although it hardly looks utilitarian.  The lovely arched window was the main focal point on that wall.  Although some might think of apron front sinks as strictly casual, this Shaws fluted fireclay sink is elegant enough to work in this kitchen.  Of course, there are two dishwashers, along with pull out pilasters that cleverly conceal cleaning essentials and one even has a towel rod to conceal the dish towel. 

Although every wall has a lovely focal point, the range wall really steals the show in this kitchen.  Clive Christian offers a very large scale range hood mantle that works well in this very stately large home.  While you need a lot of space to pull this off, it's a great solution when you need a large scale design feature.  Below it is a 48" Dacor range.  The homeowner had a custom mosaic backsplash painted with a landscape of her home.  On either side of the range, she has a multitude of drawers to hold spices and cooking utensils.

Two 36" Sub Zero fully integrated refrigerator/freezers finish off the remaining wall in this kitchen.  But not to be outdone by the rest of the room, they got dressed up with formal panel featuring a burled oak veneer and were topped with a classic pediment.

A final word about the wood species for these cabinets.  I'm asked about this kitchen a lot, in part because it was featured on an HGTV special production called "HGTV's Top Ten Amazing Kitchens."  I think part of everyone's fascination with this project is due to the beautiful French Oak wood that we used and custom stained.  Unlike American Oak, which tends to be browner and have a more wild grain to it, French Oak is from managed growth trees.  It is lighter in color (similar to white oak) and has a very straight grain.  I cannot tell you how many people have been shocked to learn about French Oak through Clive Christian.  It looks so much more elegant than what we are used to seeing with Oak here in the United States.  It has the most luxurious look to it and really fit this home well.  

This home was featured on HGTV's special "Top Ten Amazing Kitchens."