WAILEA, HI — There’s almost no way to overlook the fact that this Wailea, HI kitchen remodel is all about the island countertop. The curvy ThinkGlass top takes center stage in aesthetics as well as function for the homeowners, interior designer, Kay Lloyd and her husband, who asked fellow designer, Michelle Wagner, to lead the renovation.
“She fell in love with the glass countertop,” says Wagner, designer/owner, Wagner Pacific Group, in Maui, HI. “The whole kitchen started from that countertop. It’s the focal point of the space. There isn’t any fancy ventilation hood … it’s all about that countertop.”
The countertop was enhanced by master glass artist Michel Mailhot, who added broad strokes and swirls of dark blue, turquoise, black and gray. “Kay wanted the glass to look like waves moving toward the ocean, incorporating the colors one would see in the water,” says Wagner, who notes that her clients’ kitchen overlooks the ocean. “She also wanted to bring in the colors from the Hula girl painting, done by a local artist.”
Wagner gave the island gentle curves to mimic the curves of the pool, and to create a soft flow throughout the kitchen. Curves also create a place to help conceal seams in the glass top. “Kay was all about curves and rounded corners,” mentions Wagner. “She felt they were more inviting, and tied everything together. She didn’t want anything to be square.”
The ‘flyover,’ a suspended panel above the island, mimics its shape and provides a place for Wagner to include lights. “At night, the whole countertop is illuminated,” she notes. “It just glows. That countertop really is its own piece of art. During the day, as you see the light change, the countertop changes, too … in color and in tone. Your eye is drawn to certain parts of the countertop as the sunlight moves through it. Then, at night when it’s illuminated, it’s a different color of blue.”
Wagner chose to light the countertop from above with halogen lights rather than from within using LEDs. “Halogen offers illumination that is closest to sunlight,” she says. “Incandescents are too warm and yellow, and LEDs are too white and bright. LEDs also would have given it too much of a commercial look. Halogens provide truer colors, without being influenced by the light.”
Final touches within the island include a KitchenAid cooktop and a Franke fireclay sink, accented with a Lacava faucet that offers soft, flowing curves “to go with the rest of the curves in the kitchen,” says Wagner. “The sink is also undermounted to showcase the thickness of the glass.”
To ensure the glass countertop is the clear focal point, Wagner kept other elements within the space neutral and nondescript. Additional countertop materials include Grey Benjamin Jerusalem stone at a second island that, thanks to a retractable window that drops down into the foundation of the island, literally links the indoors to the outdoors.
“Kay wanted her new kitchen to bring the outside in,” she says. “We looked at a lot of different materials for the additional countertops, including man-made quartzite. But, in the end, we went back to nature’s limestone, which, although is very soft, works fine in this application since it isn’t a fully functioning countertop like the main island.”
At the adjacent bar, a custom Glassworks lower glass countertop is accented with a Grey Glass polished quartzite upper counter. “They do a lot of entertaining,” she continues, noting that Kay frequently hosts cancer society fundraising parties where she can have upwards of 100 people or more congregating throughout her kitchen and lanai.
The countertops sit atop custom Hertco Abet Laminati vertical grain laminate European-style frameless cabinets that feature an embossed surface that resembles wood grain. They are accented with custom satin nickel Schaub & Co. pulls in a wave design that furthers the ‘curved’ theme. “The doors have a texture,” says Wagner. “When you touch them, there are high and low areas that feel like real wood. They are very popular right now.”
The cabinetry also exudes the contemporary Hawaiian feel the client desired. “She wouldn’t have real wood,” she says of the contemporary theme. “That just isn’t her look.”
Because Lloyd does an extensive amount of entertaining for large groups, traffic flow and storage became important considerations. “She has huge quantities of dishes, glassware and silverware, all of which need to be stored in the kitchen,” she says.
To accommodate her needs, the designer included a bank of tall cabinets, equipped with special heavy-duty hardware and reinforced shelving. It curves one direction toward the butler’s pantry and another direction toward the KitchenAid convection oven/microwave/warming drawer and a small work space, accented with Jeffery Court Stream Stone backsplash tiles and faux-painted outlets crafted by local artist Kathy Flood. It ends at the 42″ KitchenAid refrigerator.
A second tall cabinet in the bar area features etched glass inserts by Kersey Glass. “Kay and her husband own a winery, so she wanted grape leaves etched in the glass,” says Wagner.
To ensure adequate traffic flow during fundraising events, Wagner worked diligently to ensure spatial relationships between the islands, bar, etc. were just right. “It was a challenge to know where to place everything, in particular the bar,” she says. “I needed to make sure to get the spacing right so Kay’s husband, who bartends during events, would have enough room to work, while being able to open and close appliances with guests flowing throughout the area. And, of course, it needed to be aesthetically pleasing.”