High-tech gadgets and clever storage options boost efficiency in this Atlanta kitchen
Atlanta real estate agent Suzy Smith knows where to put her home-improvement dollars: in the kitchen. With a teenaged daughter soon heading to college, she also anticipates that she and husband Ed will be ready to downsize and sell their home sometime in the next five years. “I told my husband that either we spend the money now and get some enjoyment out of a pretty new kitchen for the next few years or we take a hit when we sell the house,” Suzy explains.
Photography: Emily Jenkins Followill
Produced by Lisa Mowry
Interior and kitchen design: Matthew Quinn, Design Galleria Kitchen & Bath Studio, 351 Peachtree Hills Ave. N.E., Suite 234, Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/261-0111, designgalleria.net .
Range Wall Before
While the kitchen in their eight-year-old home was satisfactory, it wasn’t going to win any beauty contests—or woo would-be buyers. It was dark, and knots in the wood cabinets were beginning to bleed through the cream-colored glaze. The floor plan had drawbacks, too. Access to the food pantry required walking through the adjacent laundry room, which—oddly—enjoyed prime real estate at the front of the house. When Atlanta kitchen designer Matthew Quinn walked into the kitchen, his first thought was, Where are the windows?
“It was very dark and just didn’t look like the Smiths,” says the designer, who did the couple’s kitchen in a previous house when they were newlyweds. Quinn sized up the space and presented two design options. They could update the kitchen without removing walls or—as Quinn preferred—move the laundry elsewhere, take down the wall dividing the two rooms, and push the kitchen to the front of the house. The latter approach would capture more space, light, and views.
Before: Laundry was inconveniently placed at the front of the house, resulting in space and light issues in the kitchen.
Range Wall After
Suzy agreed the wall and laundry room needed to go, which gained nearly 80 square feet for the new kitchen and a stunning focal-point wall that includes a new range, a stone-and-copper hood, and a tile backsplash set between the arched windows. “Those arched windows are fabulous,” Quinn says, adding that the wall is “the most architecturally important element in the room.”
After: Moving the laundry room upstairs and eliminating a wall captured space for a larger kitchen with a focal-point wall that includes a Wolf range and a François & Co. hood set between original windows.
The hood is handmade with a mixture of ground limestone, marble, and resins that are pressed into a mold, Quinn explains. The copper surface was created by lining the mold with copper dust and then pressing the stone mixture into it. Suzy notes that the hood has the look of sheet metal without the noise of vibrations or the maintenance issues.
While the kitchen space was enlarged from 232 square feet to about 312 square feet, Quinn kept the layout similar because it had worked well for Suzy.
Before: The island was in a good spot in the kitchen, but it needed an upgrade.
A 9-foot-long island topped with black walnut and curved on one side provides eating and work surfaces, and houses a microwave, two refrigerator drawers, a pellet ice maker (a must-have for Ed), and a fold-back door that conceals a lift-up shelf for the heavy stand mixer.
After: The island has a walnut top and perimeter countertops are Borneo marble with a matte “leather” finish. Subway tiles by the sink are from Walker Zanger. Faucet is from Kohler. The Smiths were able to keep an existing window valance above the sink.
Nearly all the appliances are integrated into the cabinetry—a Quinn signature. “I prefer something other than a stainless-steel appliance to attract my eye,” he says. To the left of the range, a warming drawer looks like a standard cabinet drawer. The refrigerator, a tall dish cabinet, and the pantry door are camouflaged behind custom mirrored panels with curving lead mullions. “No one can tell the pantry is there. It’s a fun surprise,” Quinn says. The mullion design was inspired by a tiny detail in gates outside the home, he points out.
Mirrored panels and faux drawers mask the pantry’s entrance.
Charging Station Detail
Three “charging station” drawers, one for each family member, are tucked under the countertop near the pantry. Outlets in the back of each velvet-lined drawer allow for charging multiple devices—laptops, phones, and tablets—which keeps the tangle of cords out of sight. Even the television in the dining area is hidden, inset in the wall behind a painting that rises at the touch of a button.
Before: Exposed appliances and traditional cabinets occupied the wall.
Custom wall cabinets made with salvaged heart-pine wood and antiqued glass hold the Smiths’ delicate wineglasses. “When you open the doors, there’s this fabulous wood smell that goes so well with wine,” Quinn says.
After: Custom-made heart-pine cabinets hang on walls painted Benjamin Moore’s “Brandon Beige.” White lacquered cabinetry is from Downsview Kitchens.
The Smiths frequently entertain, and Suzy enjoys working at the island while guests sit on the stools or in the adjoining dining area. “Having a kitchen that is truly the heart of the home, a place where people feel comfortable hanging out, is everything,” she says happily.
The oil painting lifts via a motorized system to reveal a flat-panel TV mounted in the wall. The pine table was painted to match the RH dining chairs.
A coffee machine tucks into a niche on the countertop to the left of the sink. The food processor and small appliances are kept inside the mirrored cabinet.
Rustic metal lanterns with burlap-like tops add texture and a casual, warm vibe and provide soft illumination.