Designers Customize Kitchen’s Exotic
By John Filippelli
ST. CHARLES, IL—Creating a kitchen for a custom home can pose
some unique problems for designers, since the lack of a homeowner
can mean the design ends up looking “generic,” lacking the
“personal touch” that is so important to a room that is destined to
be the heart of the home.
This was the challenge facing Ken and Julie Bernhard, of St.
Charles, IL-based SeBern Homes, Inc. and John Riggs, CKD, of
Sandwich, IL-based Colonial Kitchen & Cabinetry, when they
designed the Siena project home to be sold or held as a sales model
by SeBern Homes, Inc.
Since there were no customer requirements, the three designers
strove to develop an efficient and innovative kitchen, perfect for
gourmet cooking and entertaining. Additionally, they utilized a
“tropical” design theme which adds personality and visual punch,
while showcasing the latest trends in cabinetry and special finish
By blending natural cherry cabinetry, stainless steel appliances
and granite countertops with a Black Galaxy hue and green accent
notes, the designers were able to create an exotic and alluring
design that had plenty of personality, while keeping the space
functional – making it appealing to a wide variety of
The design team also needed to look at the kitchen in context of
the entire home. Thus, while remaining aware of the adjoining
dinette, formal great room and living room, the designers were able
to provide a kitchen space that was both aesthetically appealing
As Julie Bernard says, “By keeping the dinette, living room and
kitchen adjoined, with the kitchen as the focal point, we created
an open-style atmosphere for entertaining – both for formal
and informal parties.”
Choosing a Mediterranean/ Tropical design theme for the 20’x20′
kitchen, the designers began with Mouser brand natural cherry
cabinetry with special custom finish and a “burnished” edge,
supplied by Colonial Kitchen & Cabinetry. A color scheme of
rich, natural hues, with lots of brown tones and green accent
notes, continued the theme.
The cabinetry was set at staggered heights to create a sense of
symmetry on the range wall, blending with the overall exotic look
of the space. The decision to stagger the heights of the cabinetry
also created more space for storage within the kitchen.
To further complement the overall look of the kitchen, a custom
green finish was used on the island cabinetry to accomplish an
“island” style, while iron barstools at the island incorporate a
pineapple design and fabric to further enhance the tropical
The designers chose stainless steel Thermador appliances, such
as a 48″ range with griddle, a six-program dishwasher and a
KitchenAid microwave to enhance the aesthetics and functionality of
the kitchen. A unique wood 48″ professional hood provides added
A custom “mantle” look updraft area adorns the professional
Thermador range, and a custom tumbled marble backsplash accents the
room’s tropical feel.
Rounding out the appliance lineup is a 42″ framed Sub-Zero
refrigerator, which is located across from one of the two islands
within the kitchen.
For seamless styling, decorative panels are located on the hood
and cabinetry display, and over the refrigerator, the designers
Keeping a cohesive feel, Riggs adds that, “The door front blends
with the built-in Sub-Zero with decoration panels.”
Black Galaxy granite with copper flaking, supplied by the
Glendale Heights, IL-based Stone Design, was used for both the
countertops and the large island in the kitchen, making a powerful
visual statement and enhancing the architectural pewter door
hardware. Julie Bernard states, “The Black Galaxy [granite]
strikingly reflects the cherry in the cabinetry while shimmering
under the recessed halogen under-cabinet lighting.”
By using granite on the countertops, the designers achieved two
goals: First, they created a balance between the countertops and
the stone used on the flooring and backsplash. Second, the granite
fit well within the primary elements of the kitchen, all of which
were designed to create a feeling of warmth. This is evident in the
use of natural shades and brown tones, completed by walls faux
finished in natural tones with a green accent.
Molding was also utilized effectively by the designers, with the
center island boasting custom angled legs, fluted trim and a
valance toe kick to create a “furniture” look, with Enkeboll
Designs supplying the onlays and corbels.
Since the kitchen was designed for frequent entertaining, the
large center island was designed to seat up to six people.
Additionally, storage was key to the layout, with both islands
containing drawers with shelves and roll-out drawers for extra
Surrounding the center island are several vegetable storage bins
that can also be used for decorative display when entertaining,
keeping the balance of function and form. In addition, a bookcase
is part of the large island, perfect for storing cookbooks.
Special bubbled glass was also used in the cabinetry to provide
an antique look, while custom green accents were used in the
bookcase and soffit areas.
The base cabinets feature roll-out drawers and, located on the
hood and cabinetry display are decorative panels and doors that can
be used for extra storage, according to the designers.
Furthermore, a unique hidden walk-in pantry with custom
cabinetry doors adds storage possibilities without compromising
space within the kitchen.
Halogen lighting was used under, in and above the cabinetry,
which not only accents the trim and cherry wood, but also gives a
greater sense of space, according to the design team. Halogen spot
lighting was also used in the cabinetry with glass doors to
highlight the natural wood.
The kitchen has very high (10′) ceilings, so the designers took
advantage of this by using pewter light chandeliers by Zanzeen.
These mix with the custom pewter faucets and door hardware, adding
the finishing touches to what the design teams views as a
- The major design concern was to develop an efficient and
innovative kitchen, perfect for gourmet cooking and entertaining,
without compromising the overall aesthetic of the Mediterranean/
Tropical design theme.
- A key element to this kitchen is the use of Mouser brand
Natural Cherry Wood cabinetry with a custom finish, which blends
comfortably with the green hues of the granite countertops and
islands, as well as the Thermador, Sub-Zero and KitchenAid
stainless steel appliances.
- A unique aspect to this kitchen is the use of two islands, one
very large and the other small, with both featuring a custom green
finish and several storage choices, such as drawers with shelves
and roll-out drawers for convenience or decorative display.
- Choices in faucetry reflect the overall design theme, with the
designers choosing custom pewter faucets and door hardware to
match, as well as pewter chandeliers.
- The design has halogen recessed lighting that is used above the
two islands, as well as halogen spot lighting in the cabinetry with
- Products include: Mouser brand natural cherry cabinets with
custom finish and burnished edge; Black Galaxy granite countertops
with copper flaking, supplied by Stone Design; a 48″ stainless
steel Thermador range with griddle; a 48″ Thermador wood
professional hood; a six-program stainless steel Thermador
dishwasher; a 42″ stainless steel Sub-Zero framed refrigerator, a
stainless steel KitchenAid microwave and Zanzeen pewter light