Finding a home or cottage with a perfect location is fantastic. Then you just need to change things inside the building to make it your own.
This was definitely the situation for Chervin Kitchen & Bath clients Greg and Jenny. They love to entertain family and friends, so they knew right away that the 12-foot-wide galley kitchen in their new cottage wouldn’t work for them.
There wasn’t enough storage space, and the area as a whole wasn’t set up for maximum efficiency when cooking for guests.
Chervin designer Lisa Weber began by discussing exactly what the couple needed and wanted before putting together a custom cabinetry plan.
That included a discussion of aesthetics as well as workflow and cooking preferences. “Some will design with a certain style in mind, which works at times,” says Lisa. “But I prefer to design for each person individually. Everybody has a different style and a different lifestyle. Design is nothing without function.”
The first thing that was clear was that the kitchen needed space to store ingredients, utensils, cookware, dishes and more. And it all needed to be presented in a logical, accessible workflow.
Lisa’s design began by moving the range from a corner of the kitchen to a rear wall. That allowed Chervin’s team to place cabinetry and counterspace on both sides of the range, giving Jenny easy access to ingredients, utensils, and workspace.
Jars and canned goods are stored in a large pullout pantry beside the refrigerator. A small cabinet near the doorway to the outer deck contains the microwave, where it is accessible without being in the way.
“Jenny told me she has more space now than when we started,” says Lisa. “Which is exactly what we want to do. Designing custom cabinetry is all about giving the client more space than before, as well as giving them a more efficient space.”
This is achieved through planning and installing cabinetry that is as close to the cooking areas as possible: when you’ve got food in the oven, pots on the stove, and more prep to do, the closer you are to what you need, the better.
Items that aren’t used as often can be stored in the topmost level of the floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, freeing up easy-to-reach spaces for items that are used more frequently.
Another consideration when planning the space was to ensure that it was open to the rest of the house, allowing Jenny to engage with her guests while cooking.
“We didn’t want her to feel locked in a kitchen all by herself surrounded by cabinets and appliances,” says Lisa. “We made sure to keep an open concept in mind so she could be part of the party.”
Lisa says the results of this project point to why it’s important to build relationships with clients. Getting to know their lifestyle provided insight into customizing their cabinetry. Communication in these situations is vital to doing the job right.
“Initially, I was wondering how we could make this space work better,” recalls Lisa. The end result is influenced by California design styles, she says, “because it’s big, airy, open and fresh. It also matches the personalities of Greg and Jenny. They have free and easy, warm and welcoming personalities.”
When renovating a kitchen space, Lisa suggests going through all the cabinets and drawers to see what you need and don’t need.
“Even though we are giving you more space, it’s a good idea to use it for items you will be frequently using,” she says. “If you find four slotted spoons, ask yourself if you really need that many.”
When considering a kitchen redesign, Lisa says some clients want to look at aesthetics first. She can absolutely work that way, although she does advise planning your space for function as well.
And what if the style you want is bold or even idiosyncratic? Go for it. “As long as it looks great and does the job for you while you live there, that’s all you need to focus on,” says Lisa. “If you sell the cottage in the future, the next family to move in may have different needs and may be calling us to do a completely different design.”
Being able to find custom solutions for their clients is one of the many reasons Lisa and other Chervin team members love their work.
“We have the ability to create something for the client that looks like it was always there, and yet feels completely custom.”
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS KIM JEFFERY