Prairie Home Kitchen Defies Expectations

by Autumn McGarr

Jones, OK ­ Contemporary homes aren’t necessarily commonplace in Oklahoma. But that scarceness ultimately gave Brenda Helms and her clients the freedom to design the couple’s new prairie-style home without any constraints or preconceived notions.

“There isn’t a lot of modern design happening in Oklahoma compared to the coasts, so we weren’t bound by any expectations,” says the co-owner/lead designer at Edmond Kitchen Bath Home, with locations in downtown Edmond and in Hahn Appliance in Oklahoma City. “We were able to design without inhibitions, ultimately arriving at a style best described as modern, warm and minimalistic.”

Working with an unencumbered slate, Helms and designers Megan Greve and Maureen Befort at Edmond Kitchen Bath Home were cognizant of keeping the kitchen simple, without over-designing it. As such, they focused on two important objectives defined by their clients: handleless design and minimal wall cabinets.

Photos: David Cobb Photography

Handleless design was an important consideration for the kitchen where even the refrigerator/freezer columns are sans handles.
Photos: David Cobb Photography

The elimination of hardware on the Jay Rambo custom cabinetry was achieved with Blum TIP-ON technology, where doors and drawers open with a light touch, Helms notes. A Nanotech finish resolved any concerns about fingerprints.

“People need to be aware of fingerprints when there isn’t any hardware,” she says. “This matte finish doesn’t show them, and it’s very scrubbable, with self-healing properties as well.”

Advancements in appliance design also help kitchen/bath professionals achieve progressively cleaner lines. For example, Helms included a Miele fully integrated dishwasher with hidden controls and Knock2open, which eliminates the need for a handle since the door opens automatically after knocking on it twice. Truly flush installation of white glass-front Miele ovens and a built-in coffee maker help these appliances meld seamlessly into the white cabinetry that surrounds them. In between, custom, oversized panels disguise the Thermador refrigerator/freezer columns, while a discreet C-channel allows access to their contents.

“We often see clean, sleek designs interrupted by appliance pulls,” says the designer. “It can be difficult to find solutions. But a lot of things are coming together as far as technology and innovations within the kitchen and bath industry that can now really help designers create a truly modern kitchen.”

Storage solutions

Modern design can also wreak havoc with storage since many people want to eliminate wall cabinets, thereby minimizing places to stow kitchen items. “Any time you have minimalistic design, you’ll need to look at storage differently,” says Helms. “My clients didn’t want any upper cabinets along the back wall, so we had to explore different options to find the right balance between clean design and adequate storage.”

As such, she focused on enhancing the functionality of the island by including plenty of drawers and specialized organization for everything from utensils and silverware to trash bins, her client’s stand mixer and accessories associated with The Galley workstation.

“The island really handles all of the action,” says Helms. “My client can take something out of the refrigerator, prep the ingredients at the sink then move down the island and cook at the induction cooktop.” 

Photos: David Cobb Photography

While highly functional, the island also serves as the kitchen’s focal point, showcasing an array of striking finishes and products, including the marble-look quartz countertop with waterfall edge.
Photos: David Cobb Photography

While highly functional, the island also serves as the kitchen’s focal point, showcasing striking finishes and products such as a Cambria Brittanica quartz countertop that falls to encase gray Jay Rambo cabinets accented with grain-matched walnut panels that were crafted to provide maintenance access to the cooktop. The quartz’s marble aesthetic is on-trend, while its composition offers stain resistance and durability. Legrand pop-up outlets maintain a sleek countertop surface and eliminate any interruptions in the waterfall edge. A Brizo Solna articulating faucet with matte black finish complements the 4′ workstation from The Galley, and is a perfect choice for reaching into all corners of the sink, notes the designer. A 36″ GE induction cooktop with Viking pop-up downdraft integrates cleanly into the countertop. A trio of Wireflow LED square pendant lights hovers above it all, playing into the modern, industrial vibe while reinforcing the minimalist style. 

“There is a lot of minimalism happening in the background,” says Helms. “But the island, with its beautifully veined, marble-look countertop and waterfall edge detail, The Galley sink and induction cooktop…it all becomes really interesting to the eye.”

Continuing aesthetics and function

The kitchen’s perimeter also boasts elements of purpose and beauty. One perimeter wall incorporates a seamless blending of appliances and cabinetry, including a concealed ‘drop zone’ located next to the coffee maker. 

“In minimalist design, especially, you don’t want any areas that are prone to messes,” she says. “We created this drop zone with doors that lift up to reveal a countertop where my clients can charge their phones and keep notepads, pens, etc.”

The second perimeter wall rivals the island for attention and showcases Neolith Iron Moss sintered stone that is repeated as the countertop. The latter’s mitered edge belies the material’s slim profile. “The backsplash is one sheet, so there are no seams,” she says, noting the material’s heat- and scratch-resistance offers enhanced durability. “The color we chose ties everything together in the kitchen’s palette. We were operating in a range of neutrals from white to black combined with lighter natural and amber wood tones, and the backsplash and countertop has both browns and blacks to bring it all together.”

Photos: David Cobb Photography

Pop-up and pop-out outlets maintain the sleek, modern design, minimizing interruptions in surfaces.
Photos: David Cobb Photography

To maintain a relatively uninterrupted backsplash, Helms again utilized Legrand outlets. “These pop-outs are a bit sleeker and look more modern than a traditional outlet,” she says, noting their facade conceals the prongs.

The back wall also includes a second sink – an oversized, single-bowl model – which eases cleanup and is conveniently located next to the dishwasher. 

“My client can work at the island, then reach behind her to access the cleanup sink and dishwasher,” she says. “It’s an efficient assembly line of workflow.”

A bank of deep drawers, accessorized with pegs to securely store and organize bowls and plates, is positioned between the dishwasher and GE Monogram wine refrigerator. Grain-matched walnut sheaths the entirety. 

“We knew there would be a lot of white, and my clients wanted something to warm up the space,” says the designer. “The natural wood grain fit the bill and fulfills the warm component in the modern, warm and minimalistic design style my clients wanted.

“While this kitchen may look simple, there is actually a lot of technology and know-how that goes into designing a modern space,” she adds. “It isn’t as simple as it looks. For example, seemingly unassuming lines, such as the back of this kitchen’s island with its four equally sized drawers, can make a design statement. And, you have to be careful of those lines because they are, sometimes, all there is to notice.”

“This entire home defies the expected,” she concludes, “even down to its modern-framed shopping glass windows that offer views to the backyard…where there is a pool, prairie and pasture with cows.” ▪

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