Home & Garden

Design Master Class: Jean Emhke updates a kitchen

With a table for six and island seating for three, entertaining family and friends is a breeze in this updated kitchen.
With a table for six and island seating for three, entertaining family and friends is a breeze in this updated kitchen. BOB FORTNER

The challenge

The owners of this 1993 traditional home in Raleigh wanted to expand and update their kitchen. Though situated in a large space, it was cramped with a peninsula that essentially cut the space in half and an island. They wanted to make use of the entire space, create a more functional workflow and incorporate a prep sink, undercounter beverage refrigerator and professional, six-burner gas rangetop with overhead venting to replace a cooktop with downdraft fan. They needed to seat three at the island and keep their existing table with seating for six.

Super space

We started by clearing everything out, giving us a little over 400 square feet to work with. To keep in tune with the feel of the home, we chose a traditional style and a natural color palette of creams, gray-green and rich browns. Locating the new rangetop came first as there were limited spots for installing overhead venting. Once that was pinned down, other stainless steel appliances were placed to accommodate multiple cooks.

A French door refrigerator was positioned for easy access from the main sink and rangetop, and placing a built-in oven and microwave to the right of the refrigerator created an updated work triangle. A pair of tall pantry cabinets were equipped with tray dividers for storing baking sheets, serving platters, cooling racks and cutting boards.

We installed a double-bowl sink in the island across from the rangetop, making sure that we had 48 inches of clearance between the two, allowing multiple people to work comfortably. The dishwasher and a double pull-out trash cabinet also were placed next to the sink. A granite countertop supported by a beautiful turned leg was just the right size to accommodate three stools. The stools’ red upholstery, with nailhead trim, added a pop of color to this side of the room.

At 17 feet, the longest wall provided plenty of room for the rangetop, beverage refrigerator and single bowl prep sink, as well as ample storage. Near the undermount refrigerator, we installed two tall wall cabinets that extend to the countertop and a separate cabinet with glass doors and wine cubbies, as well as an open-shelf display cabinet with arched accent for interest.

Executive Cabinetry made the maple cabinets in the Rockefeller flat-panel style; we used a combination of semi-custom and custom cabinets and custom-designed a matching enclosure to house the overhead hood and blower. We mixed the finishes for interest, using antique paint with a coffee highlight glaze on most of the perimeter cabinets and pinyon stain with heavy brushed glaze on the island, hood and rangetop base. We added interest by varying the depths and heights of cabinets and by installing detailed crown molding on top and a light rail below to conceal undercabinet light fixtures.

The finishes coordinated beautifully with the Sienna Bordeaux granite countertops and a backsplash of ivory travertine with accent tiles of travertine, khaki- and mocha-colored glass. The sinks, which are 80 percent granite, are from Blanco’s Silgranit II Series in biscuit. The walls are painted Benjamin Moore Richmond Gray (HC-96). Oil-rubbed bronze cabinet pulls and knobs, faucets and island light fixture complemented this color scheme.

The result is a welcoming space with excellent work flow and room for everyone to pitch in with the cooking. With the table for six and island seating for three, entertaining family and friends is a breeze.

Terrific trick

If your kitchen needs a lift but a remodel is not in the budget, consider these do-it-yourself projects: painting cabinets, replacing cabinet hardware, changing out fixtures, and replacing the backsplash. An affordable mosaic tile on a 12-inch mesh backing will add color and detail to the backsplash and can be installed to fill a larger area or cut into sections.

JeanE Kitchenand Bath Design Inc.

516 Pendleton Lake Road, Raleigh

919-656-0373 or jeanekandbdesign.com

About the designer

Jean Ehmke has been lead designer and owner of JeanE Kitchen and Bath Design, Inc. in Raleigh for five years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fire protection and safety engineering technology from Oklahoma State University and completed her second major in interior design at Meredith College in Raleigh. Her career has spanned 30 years.

Design Master Class

N&O Design Team members who share their expertise in Home & Garden are members of the Alliance of Interior Designers, a group of Triangle-area professionals. Learn more at allianceofinteriordesigners.org.