Kitchen Showcases the Perfect Balance

Designer finds just the right combination of dark and light, indoors and outdoors to create a unique space for a client who has ‘seen it all.’

authors Kim Berndtson | March 10, 2020

New Orleans — Michael Morgan’s client works in real estate and often shows people the same types of kitchens…those with white perimeter cabinets and a dark island. So, when it came time to design the kitchen in her family’s new home in the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans, LA, she knew she wanted something she didn’t routinely see.

The bar area features a marble backsplash and matching countertop that sits atop dark base cabinets. Glass shelves fit neatly between individual mirrors, thereby eliminating the need for shelf brackets.

“She likes white cabinets, and she wanted a combination of contrasting light and dark in a bright kitchen,” says the owner of Ambiance Cabinets & Design, in New Orleans, who worked with John Hoskin of Hoskin Homes for the new construction project. “But she wanted something different, something with more warmth.”

As she considered color, she often returned to a dark charcoal, opting for Iron Ore from Sherwin Williams, which sheaths the bulk of the KITH Kitchens cabinetry, complete with soft-close Blum slides and hinges. And, since she does like white, she wanted to incorporate a few accent cabinets in the contrasting colorway to highlight the focal-point custom ventilation hood that was built onsite by Hoskin, who often designs unique, one-of-a-kind hoods for his clients, never repeating a creation.

“Including the white cabinets allows the dark hood to stand out,” he says, adding that both hues work beautifully with the on-trend European White Oak floor laid in an eye-catching, herringbone pattern. “Had we done dark cabinets all around the kitchen, the hood would not have popped as much.”

Morgan also customized the cabinetry beneath the 48″ cooktop, creating a custom drawer front for two 24″ drawer bases. Selecting two different door styles throughout the kitchen – slab-style for the darker cabinets and Shaker-style for the lighter – emphasizes the differentiation and adds interest, while simple crown moulding and toe boards that are flush with the cabinets provide for a sleek, contemporary design style.

When Michael Morgan’s client works at her island, she can easily view her backyard via the wall of windows and custom black-framed patio door, which also allow an abundance of natural light to flow into the space.

Maintaining visual access

Morgan also worked with his client to develop a layout that works with his clients’ lifestyle.

“The couple has a small child and she needed to have several vantage points for seeing outside,” he says, noting that their L-shaped backyard also includes a pool. “She wanted to maintain a window to the side view, so we moved the cooktop – which normally would be where the apron front sink is currently located – to an interior wall.”

The original layout also included a full length of cabinets on the sink wall, but she wanted to include an additional window on the back wall to eliminate any blind spots to the backyard, so Morgan shortened the cabinetry run. That meant he had to get creative with the sink wall elevation.

“Symmetry is important to her, so the cabinets to the right and left of the window are the same, then we added the double oven and built-in microwave on one end,” he explains. Staggering the height and depth of the cabinets that flank the window adds dimension, while purposefully stopping the cabinetry height shy of the 12′-tall ceiling keeps it from overwhelming the space, given its dark color. Including glass in select cabinets gives his client a place to display special items.

Addressing lost storage space

Because Morgan’s client enjoys cooking, she wanted a kitchen that would be a great place to prepare meals. As such, she paid careful attention to appliance selection, incorporating a Viking cooktop, double oven, built-in microwave and island dishwasher, which is next to the 48″ Create Good Sinks sink with Brizo faucet in a Luxe Gold finish. A paneled Bosch dishwasher sits next to the apron-front Kohler sink accented with a Champagne Bronze Delta faucet. Additional appliances include a full-size Electrolux refrigerator and freezer as well as a built-in Thermador wine column and KitchenAid ice maker in the adjacent bar. This area features a White Rhino marble backsplash and matching countertop that sits atop dark base cabinets, “which is an ‘expected’ color for a bar,” says Morgan. Glass shelves fit neatly between individual mirrors, thereby eliminating the need for shelf brackets.

“Between the number, and size, of appliances, as well as the large windows, we had to address lost storage space,” he adds.

Morgan suggested frameless cabinets to maximize the available space. He also designed a butler’s pantry, which he located on the back side of the cooking wall. It includes open shelves for storing dry goods and small appliances and a walnut work surface that matches the countertop on the nearby coffee station that doubles as a desk area for the couple’s child.

“The pantry gives her some spillover storage,” he notes.

Morgan was also cognizant of including plenty of storage in the island, which is topped with White Rhino marble and provides in-kitchen seating for four.

“It’s a little over 8′ long,” he states. “She isn’t a tall person, so anything stored here is easy for her to access. She says it’s the perfect place for items she doesn’t use every day.”

Morgan’s client also made sure finish selections complemented the Restoration Hardware pendants that hover above the island, as well as the sconces that adorn the sink wall.

“They served as inspiration for the space,” he says, adding that they, along with the LED recessed lights and natural light flowing in from the windows and custom black-framed patio door, keep the space light enough to brighten the dark cabinetry. “The pendants are stunning in person,” he concludes. ▪

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1 review on “Kitchen Showcases the Perfect Balance”

  1. I didn’t have a big or expensive job over 10 years ago, but Mike treated us like any expensive client…spent time, listened to all my requests and made them work. He had the best installers and gave me the name of a great electrician. I recommend him to everyone!


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