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Smart Designs 

Two multi-use kitchens serve as hubs in the daily lives of two busy families.

Grand Central Kitchens

The kitchen has long been considered the heart of the home, a place where we cook, dine, gather, entertain, do homework, pay bills, surf the Internet and more. As a result, today's kitchens are painstakingly designed to accommodate all of those activities. Here, we've chosen two kitchens that epitomize this trend. One traditional and the other almost Zen-like in its simplicity, they offer two different takes on how to create a kitchen that looks good and lives well.

Jack and Linda Jurgens

When attorney Jack Jurgens and his wife Linda purchased the Garden District home they share with their children, Lilah and Jack, and Linda's son Richard, a new kitchen was not a top priority. Among other things, the 1850s house required all new electrical systems, roof repairs and new air conditioning and heating as well as renovation of its double parlors, dining room and bedrooms. By the time the kitchen phase of the renovation came along last year, Linda had had ample time to hone her vision.

"I always knew what I wanted to do, but when we got to the kitchen, we had lived here for several years and I had a real good idea of what would work," says Linda.

During the 1970s, the original kitchen at the rear of the house had been turned into an office and replaced with a tiny galley kitchen at the front of the house. Working with Crane Builders, Gerald Johnson of Cameron Kitchen & Bath Designs, and interior designer Jeffrey A.B. Pendleton, the Jurgens moved the kitchen back to its former location and conceived it as a combination kitchen-dining-family room. This enabled Linda to simultaneously cook and supervise children in the swimming pool and to work with a design scheme that related to the surrounding outdoors. "My main goal was to make it as bright and airy and as open as possible to bring the outdoors in," says Linda.

To that end, an extra 9 feet of width was added to the kitchen by removing its outer wall and incorporating part of a side patio. Because it was a weight-bearing wall, square columns now serve as structural supports over an island where the wall had been. An unusual Tudor-style window overlooking the patio was salvaged when the wall was moved and reused for the same purpose over a roomy farmhouse sink. Across the room, a dark brick wall was replaced with sheetrock, which gives the room a lighter look.

The color scheme of the room was inspired by Cowtan & Tout's "Honeysuckle" chintz, which Linda found through Pendleton. The fabric features honeysuckle vines, birds, and butterflies in shades of green, terracotta (a color also used in the formal front of the house), and cream. "The fabric is great because it has everything in it that Linda loves," says Pendleton, who used it for a framed valence above the kitchen window and for accent pillows in the seating area across the room. The cabinets, all from Cameron Kitchens, were painted with a custom-blended off-white from Helm Paint, and combined with earthen-colored granite countertops from Mediterranean Tile & Marble. Ivory-colored ceramic tiles laid on a diagonal were used for the floors, and backsplashes of tumbled travertine were chosen to complement the countertops. Linda had artist Nicholas Crowell paint the backsplashes with a motif of honeysuckle topiaries, butterflies and birds inspired by the chintz used over the window and by her love of gardening. An arched casement with pilasters that mimic the columns over the island frames and accentuates Crowell's artistry behind a gas stove.

Above the island is an iron pot rack that displays a collection of antique copper cookware that Linda acquired and stored over the years in anticipation of her dream kitchen. On either end of the island are bookshelves that hold her many cookbooks. At the opposite end of the room, a Country French table and chairs from Stan Levy Imports provides a place for casual family dining with views of the pool. Country French chairs from the Ballard Designs catalog also are used for dining along one side of the island.

"It's hard to pick one thing that I like most about this room," says Linda. "The size is wonderful, I love the coloring and the fact that it's so open. When I get home, I always come down to this room first. It's like an oasis."

(photo of kitchen with copper pots over the island/ Jurgens1)

(dining table/ Jurgens2)

(painted detail over stove/ Jurgens3)

Guy and Poe Carpenter

As owner of Supreme Painting & Restoration and Supreme Shutter Company, contractor Guy Carpenter regularly works in some of the most beautiful homes in New Orleans. Therefore, when he and his wife Poe began renovating their own Uptown home three and a half years ago, they didn't have to look far for a contractor with the necessary expertise. Having renovated several previous homes, the couple knew how they wanted the space to look, and as parents of three young children -- Cook, Chase and Chloe -- they knew how it had to function.

"The kitchen and den are where we live," says Poe. "We never really went after a particular style, we just picked what we liked and operated on the theory that for our life, less is best."

After buying the circa 1870, 3000-square-foot house in 2001, the Carpenters gutted it to the studs and began renovating, saving the kitchen, adjacent den and courtyard for last.

"When we got to the kitchen, we realized we couldn't wing it like we had elsewhere," says Poe. "We had to have a plan." The Carpenters turned to Belva Johnson of Cameron Kitchens & Bath Designs for a layout that would integrate all of the features they wanted, from a professional stove to a beverage refrigerator to designer faucets. Both Guy and Poe wanted simple, Shaker-style cabinetry, so they purchased standard, stripped-down cabinets and customized them by changing the doors and adding moldings fabricated through Guy's mill shop. Supreme's mill shop also produced the room's triple crown molding, and the beadboard around the island. Because Poe loves color, while Guy prefers more neutral tones, they opted for a buttery-yellow-and-black palette that manages to be both bright and soothing. The walls, woodwork, and ceiling are painted with a pearl-finish latex called Parchment from Sherwin Williams' Martha Stewart line (Guy had it sprayed onto the walls and ceiling in order to achieve a smooth, shiny appearance). The countertops are oiled soapstone, which fades to a shade of charcoal gray over time. Poe found the pendant light fixtures through a Pottery Barn catalog and the Asian-style benches at Storehouse. She also added punches of color with art, accessories and faux-suede chair cushions.

Across from the dining table, the Carpenters allotted room for a computer station and additional storage. Though the room is amply lit with natural light beaming though clerestory windows as well as recessed lights and pendant fixtures, Guy had indirect lighting installed above and below the cabinets in order to have softer, more ambient light at night.

The kitchen's red long-leaf pine floors are original to the house. Guy replaced damaged sections with wood salvaged from other jobs and double-bleached them to get rid of the red. Because the ceiling in the adjoining den was only 8 feet high and couldn't be raised, Guy had the floor lowered 2 feet instead. He then used scored concrete to floor that room and sloped the courtyard away from the space to protect it in the event of flooding. The custom entertainment center and the doors that surround the room, which is furnished with pieces from Storehouse, were all custom made by Supreme's mill shop.

"It's a cheerful kitchen," says Guy. "I was really pleased with how it came out. I'm proud of our employees and feel very fortunate to have the best craftsmen in the city." &127;

(white kitchen with black bar stools/ Carpenter1)

(dining area with yellow painting/ Carpenter2) Seating With Style -- The Carpenters purchased the painted dining table and chairs from Hurwitz-Mintz Furniture Co. while living in a previous home. For the new space, Poe brightened the chairs with colorful, faux-suede cushions piped in brown. She also added color with art such as the floral painting above the brick fireplace, which is original to the space. The dining area overlooks a sunken den furnished with contemporary pieces from Storehouse.

click to enlarge Fantasy Island -- In addition to being an attractive focal point, the column-framed center island in Jack and Linda Jurgens' kitchen provides structural support where a weight-bearing wall was removed. Above the island, Linda hung an iron pot rack to display her collection of antique copper cookware. Though not shown, the room also includes a seating area with a built-in home theater system that Linda had installed as a gift to her husband.
  • Fantasy Island -- In addition to being an attractive focal point, the column-framed center island in Jack and Linda Jurgens' kitchen provides structural support where a weight-bearing wall was removed. Above the island, Linda hung an iron pot rack to display her collection of antique copper cookware. Though not shown, the room also includes a seating area with a built-in home theater system that Linda had installed as a gift to her husband.
click to enlarge French Dining -- French doors offer views of the pool and garden outside the Jurgens' kitchen. The antique Country French table and chairs are from Stan Levy Imports. Above the table is a custom, handmade iron chandelier with flowers, vines and birds from International Ironworks.
  • French Dining -- French doors offer views of the pool and garden outside the Jurgens' kitchen. The antique Country French table and chairs are from Stan Levy Imports. Above the table is a custom, handmade iron chandelier with flowers, vines and birds from International Ironworks.
click to enlarge Garden Fresh -- Artist Nicholas Crowell painted the backsplash behind the Dacor gas stove with a topiary, butterfly and bird motif inspired by Linda's love of gardening and designed to coordinate with chintz used over the kitchen window.
  • Garden Fresh -- Artist Nicholas Crowell painted the backsplash behind the Dacor gas stove with a topiary, butterfly and bird motif inspired by Linda's love of gardening and designed to coordinate with chintz used over the kitchen window.
click to enlarge Simple Tastes -- Guy and Poe Carpenter opted for simple cabinets, an open flow and a yellow-and-black color scheme in their new kitchen. A stainless sink at the island and farmhouse sink next to a wooden chopping-board counter offer plenty of prep space for cooking. Black-and-while photographs of the Carpenters' three children are hung above the larger sink.
  • Simple Tastes -- Guy and Poe Carpenter opted for simple cabinets, an open flow and a yellow-and-black color scheme in their new kitchen. A stainless sink at the island and farmhouse sink next to a wooden chopping-board counter offer plenty of prep space for cooking. Black-and-while photographs of the Carpenters' three children are hung above the larger sink.
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