Function complements beauty in this modern Farmhouse-style kitchen

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New Canaan, CT – This spectacular farmhouse-style kitchen with a modern twist could have looked beautiful designed in a number of different ways. But thanks to careful thought by Judi Stoogenke, ASID and senior designer with True North Cabinets, it not only looks stunning, but functions efficiently for the homeowners, too.

“This design wasn’t as simple as it looks,” she says of the space which was part of an addition recently made to the home in New Canaan, CT, by Kuehn Building, which served as the contractor. “It was carefully executed with the client’s lifestyle in mind.”

Consideration for a client’s routine is essential, she notes, adding that this particular client is an active family with two boys. They wanted a bright, airy space that highlighted the view to their backyard. “I consider it ‘compassion’,” she says. “It’s important to understand how clients live in their spaces. You don’t want to create any obstacles. For example, the island in this particular home could have been an obstacle. But instead, its design is purposeful and useful.”

Creating a charming focal point

The distressed island serves as a focal point, featuring furniture-style Kountry Kraft maple cabinetry highlighted with a 25-percent sheen Spanish Moss glaze that were installed by Tomas Simko. It is topped with dark-stained heart pine. Horizontal slatted panels on each end balance the slatted ceiling while custom-crafted brackets support the overhang which was carefully proportioned so as not to overwhelm its base.

One side of the island features stainless steel open shelving and a series of drawers to neatly house pots and provide adequate storage while the other side features hidden Sub-Zero refrigerator drawers and a cook stool. In a quaint retro design, the stool provides additional seating when the cook needs a break.

“It’s an important element in a lot of our designs,” says Stoogenke, who indicates that oftentimes when homeowners entertain and guests congregate in the kitchen, the cook is frequently left without a place to sit down.

A pair of period stools on each end provides seating for four, and at about 8.5 feet long and 4 feet wide, the island is carefully proportioned so people sitting on either end can easily converse.

Overall, the island was designed to allow for a lot of circulation between the two sides of the kitchen. “The homeowners really wanted the island,” she says. “But it did create several design challenges. In the end, it helps make the design stand out because it has so much charm.”

Maintain the view

Additionally, working with a large number of windows – including a trio which runs nearly to the floor along an entire side of one wall – took careful design consideration.

“The huge windows at the end of the kitchen go almost to the floor,” she says. “It captures the entire backyard view, and my clients didn’t want to block it with wall cabinets, which would take away from that view.”

That grouping of windows, which includes a smaller window in the peak, essentially divides the space into a galley kitchen, with the island in the middle.

“The challenge was to create a working kitchen on each side of the island, with ample circulation around it,” Stoogenke notes. One side serves as a cleanup zone with a Shaw farmhouse sink and a KitchenAid dishwasher and double oven. Ample storage for dishes and glassware is supplied by hand-painted maple Kountry Kraft inset cabinets accented with a 25-percent Snowflake sheen and exposed hinges. A pair of glass-front upper cabinets provides display space and helps break up the continuous bank of upper cabinets. Stoogenke also gave careful consideration to the proportion of the cabinet doors to ensure a balanced, elegant look.

The second side of the kitchen, which functions as a prep zone, features a stainless Wolf gas range, a BEST ventilation hood, a Jenn-Air stainless refrigerator/freezer, a GE Monogram Spacemaker microwave and a second dishwasher (KitchenAid) and sink (Elkay).

The second dishwasher and second sink were important design features, stresses Stoogenke. “The homeowners wanted the island to be one continuous surface,” she recalls. “The logical solution was to add a second sink next to the range.” Its addition also helped satisfy their desire to eliminate the use of a potfiller at the range. Plus, it enhances safety because the homeowners no longer need to carry large pots of water very far to fill or dump them.

The island serves as a third zone to help maximize overall efficiency in the kitchen.

“When I design a kitchen I like to create zones to help make sure tasks can be accomplished efficiently,” she says. “I approach kitchen design like it’s a factory. You’re making something in this factory, and you’re making it at different times, with different appliances and for different numbers of people. It is my goal to make sure that whatever task is being done can be completed efficiently. I think that’s where design has to start. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter how beautiful it is.

“For example, there is enough space that the island could have been larger,” she continues. “But that would have impeded the ability for the cook to easily move from the range to the oven. It was important to have good traffic flow around the island.”

Complementary features

Both sides of the kitchen are tied together with Nordic Black (Labrador) granite, supplied by Stone Resources, in a leathered finish. A subway tile backsplash maintains a clean, crisp look so as not to detract from the architectural elements of the space and the outdoor views. Red oak flooring adds contrast to the light-colored cabinets and ties in with the beams in the ceiling. Soffits capture the beams and maintain a clean line for the cabinets. They also provide space to add lighting above each sink.

“The overall effect of the space is really successful,” says Stoogenke. “Its airiness and warmth, accented with a few retro pieces, including the schoolhouse light fixtures, give it some whimsy without being too ‘matchy matchy’. It’s a great design that blends the view with the kitchen so they complement each other, without either one taking over the other.”


Project Highlights:

  • Judi Stoogenke, ASID and senior designer at True North Cabinets, created a modern farmhouse-style kitchen in New Canaan, CT, that not only looks spectacular, but functions efficiently for the homeowners.
  • A trio of windows along an entire wall captures the backyard view, essentially dividing the space into a galley kitchen with work zones on each side that are designed to make prep/cleanup tasks easier.
  • The island, which features Kountry Kraft cabinets and a heart pine top, serves as a focal point, as well as third work zone. Its furniture-style design features ample storage and Sub-Zero refrigerator drawers. Horizontal slatted panels on each end balance the slatted ceiling while custom-crafted brackets support the overhang. Seating for four, plus a cook’s stool, allows for adequate places to dine and converse.
  • Professional-quality appliances include a Wolf gas range, BEST ventilation hood, Jenn-Air stainless refrigerator/freezer, GE Monogram Spacemaker microwave, KitchenAid double oven and two KitchenAid dishwashers. Elkay and Shaw sinks improve functionality.

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