Delafield, WI — When Monica Boldea first met with her client to discuss the renovation of the kitchen in her New Berlin, WI home, her initial thoughts were to just give it a facelift by painting the existing cabinets and updating the backsplash and countertop. However, the designer could see the room’s true potential and the benefits she could gain with a more comprehensive remodel that could seamlessly be designed and constructed by the team at Kowalske Kitchen & Bath in Delafield, WI.
“Sometimes it’s difficult for people to see what can be done with their spaces,” says the designer, who works collaboratively with the firm’s production staff, project managers, carpenters, laborers and subcontractors. “They may only think in terms of moving a sofa or adding a vase. But we can see exactly what needs to be done. In this case, the existing cabinets were dated and were starting to show wear, so we decided together on a full remodel. Although complicated, the renovation would allow the homeowners to enjoy the improved functionality for day-to-day living as well as entertaining and hosting family and friends.”
Improved Function and Flow
To start, Boldea removed the wall that separated the kitchen from the adjacent living room, thereby opening up the space and allowing for better functionality and flow.
“Now the living room, dining room and kitchen feel like one large space they can enjoy being in together,” she indicates.
Tearing down the wall also gave the designer the ability to relocate and resize the island, which is now positioned at a more functional distance from the range. It offers plentiful storage within the custom shaker-style cabinetry from MKE Cabinetry. Organizational accessories from Hardware Resources keeps contents tidy.
On the working side of the island, cabinets as well as panels for the dishwasher and ice maker are sheathed in white paint that contrasts with the black floating cabinet on the seating side. The latter seamlessly blends with custom iron support legs for the generous countertop overhang, which provides seating for up to six guests. Crafted from Vadara’s Sereno Gold quartz, the countertop blends quietly with the white cabinetry to create a low-contrast aesthetic that prevents the island from feeling heavy.
A centrally located Galley workstation sink allows the homeowners to be a part of the conversation while chopping, rinsing and cleaning at the sink.
“My client loves the accessories for the sink,” she comments. “Its functionality fits her cooking and entertaining style perfectly.”
A Brizo articulating faucet in a Lux Gold finish complements the black and gold Molly + Monroe cabinetry hardware and gold accents on the stainless steel ZLINE range as well as the oversized Ballard Designs pendants that float above the island.
“I love using oversized lighting,” she relates. “It draws the eye to where you want it to go. When you walk into this space, those pendants are the first thing you see. Then they draw you to other important elements in the room, such as the island and the hood and cabinetry above the range.”
Boldea designed the glass-front cabinet above the range to mimic a traditional ventilation hood and to serve as a focal point for the room. Its gold-tone framing creates a mixed metal vibe with the ZLINE downdraft ventilation hood beneath while LED strip lights illuminate its contents and further its importance. The backless design allows the clé terracotta backsplash tile to shine through.
“I wanted to give that wall importance,” she explains. “If the cabinet would have been black like the rest of those on that wall, your eye would have stopped. But being able to see the backsplash behind the cabinet allows the eye to continue all the way up to the ceiling to create a ‘wow’ factor.”
Another eye-catching element within the range wall is the soapstone countertop.
“It was the first item we selected,” she says. “It was the only piece we found and it was our starting point for the entire kitchen.”
The soapstone’s leathered finish adds texture to the room, which was key to the entire design.
“The kitchen has a transitional design with a simple color scheme of black and white,” she relates, noting the desire for an era-less appeal. “We wanted to enrich the space and achieve a luxurious style, so we added warmth and texture with natural materials like the terracotta backsplash tile, soapstone countertop and wood floor to gain character over time.”
The natural stone’s gold veining also ties into the similarly colored cabinetry hardware and plumbing and lighting fixtures. Boldea gave it a chunky mitered edge to further showcase the distinctive pattern.
“Countertops are really only seen from the top,” she reports. “But we wanted to show off the veining, so we gave the countertop a thick edge. We also used the soapstone as an apron for the sink.”
Best Part of the Morning
Not to be left out, the kitchen’s perimeter wall – which is also home to the paneled refrigerator and freezer – boasts its fair share of standout elements. In particular, the espresso maker and small appliance niche shines when its pocket doors are opened.
“My client wanted a place where small appliances can easily be reached, but remain out of sight when not in use,” she explains. “This wall of built-in cabinets was the perfect place for it. She can leave the doors closed, but most of the time they are open.”
That’s due, in part, to its inclusion of striking high-end finishes such as the Envi porcelain countertop and backsplash, which is joined by a Brizo pot filler in a Lux Gold finish.
“The porcelain is a remnant and is a perfect find because of its gold and black veining that pulls all of the colors together,” she stresses. “We included a potfiller so she can easily fill her espresso maker. It is a luxury, but she says it’s the best part of her morning!”
A Pop of Color
Tearing down the wall between the kitchen and living room opened up the spaces to each other, thereby necessitating an update to both rooms. In the latter, Monica Boldea painted the existing built-in cabinetry black to match the kitchen. Accenting it with contemporary hardware makes the room feel fresh, while open shelves and glass cabinet doors provide a place to display décor.
Since her client loves color, the designer clad the fireplace with clé’s authentic, traditional Moroccan handmade terracotta tile set off with white grout.
“We didn’t use any color in the kitchen, so we included it on the fireplace,” she says. “Blue is the main color, but there are also a variety of other tones to give it depth.”
Boldea also removed the carpet in the living room and replaced it with red oak, which ran throughout the kitchen and dining room. Whitewashing it in all three rooms removed much of the red tones, giving it a more neutral hue.