Spotlight

Form, function and fun come together in well-designed kitchens.

“I love my kitchen” is music to an architects ears, particularly after long hours of thoughtful planning and design time. To achieve this goal, we start by listening to the unique goals and objectives of each client. No where is this more important than in the kitchen - the hub of most homes today.

 

Function
So we start with function and begin with lots of questions. How often do you cook? Do you entertain frequently, and for how many guests? What is your inventory of dishes, cookbooks, pots and pans? Gathering client-specific information is the first step of the design process. Coupled with experience and an exhaustive reservoir of the newest kitchen amenities, ideas start to percolate.

One such example can be seen in the Anderson kitchen (photo 1), where the two homeowners love to cook at the same time. The kitchen island was designed so the two “dualing chefs” could work together in unison. In the Ellis residence(photo 2), finding a workable solution to the change in grade from garage to kitchen was crucial. And in the McDermott kitchen (photo 3), having a permanent spot for flowers was a functional requirement of the client.

Form
Function and form go hand in hand, and kitchen designs can and should reflect the personality of the owners. No where is this more evident than in one Country Club Plaza kitchen, home to a successful photographer with a keen eye for shape and light (photo 4). The glass-plate, shark-fin overhang helps define the gentle curve of the island below, and extends the shape of the adjoining sunlit sitting room. The fun factor is incorporated with the colorful display of the homeowner’s salt and pepper shaker collection.

Fun
Speaking of fun. For serious cooks - or for those families who practically live in the kitchen - having a playful element or two helps bring his very important room to life. The Nickells residence, located in the historic district of Rockhill, is a case in point. The home owners were accomplished musicians, classically trained pianists and lovers of all things musical. So designing the kitchen island in the shape of a baby grand seemed like a natural thing to do (photo 5). Elegant, practical, whimsical.

As you begin to dream about your own perfect kitchen, start with what you want to accomplish. The functional design will revolve around the wish list of things you need. Rely on RDM Architecture for the form --- and the fun. This collaboration between client and architect is what truly delivers “I love my kitchen” results.

“CRAFTSBOY” PROVIDES GATEWAY INTO HISTORIC ROCKHILL NEIGHBORHOOD

Located in the Rockhill Historic District, the early 50’s single story “minimal traditional” hardly fit in with the grand residences that distinguish this National Register District.

The house was designated in the National application as a noncontributing structure to the overall character of the district.  Yet with the Nelson Gallery and the Henry Moore Sculpture Garden across the street to the west, the small corner site has one of the most expansive and beautiful “visual yards” around.

The form defining challenge became one of opening up the interior to the magnificent views while maintaining a sense of privacy and minimizing the views into the house from the exterior.  On the owner’s wish-list were desires for an open, free flowing space conducive to entertaining, expanding the tiny kitchen and creating a quiet first floor master suite in place of two small bedrooms and a standard fifties bathroom.  They also wanted provision for a flexible at-home office/guest bedroom and the all important two-car garage and a new entry which would provide a welcoming but private front door, which faces onto the well-used Rockhill Tennis Club parking lot.

The language of the finished project, which assumed the affectionate name “craftsboy”, was developed through the exploration of form and materials to respond to the site, context and program.  The beautifully crafted battered stonework acts as an anchor to tie the house to the site,  gives the small structure weight proportional to its grander neighbors and gestures to the stone walls typical of the Rockhill neighborhood.

The unimposing gable roofed structure was pushed, pulled and expanded vertically to meet the challenges of the program and to give the house an appropriate sense of presence on the prominent corner lot.  The expanded kitchen became a stone based tower element with the home-office/bedroom above gaining the added benefit of a small “martini deck” overlooking the wooded park of the Moore Sculpture Garden.  The deck also provides afternoon shading for the kitchen window.  The rear end of the tower encloses a two story, open stairwell whose high windows flood the interior of the house with natural light throughout the day.  High windows at the corners of both floors afford a view up and out without providing views in.  

The existing gabled roofs were reconfigured as hipped structures with consideration of providing a friendlier view for the neighbors to the east and to soften the profile of the house from the street.  At the new recessed entry, the eaveline was lifted with a gentle arch to frame the stone porch.  

The design process included a successful application to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a side yard variance.  Presentations to both the Rockhill Homes Association and to the Landmarks Commission received unanimous approval.

The completely transformed structure presents a striking face as a new gateway to this historic neighborhood.  The result has been an overwhelmingly positive response and interest in that “new” house on the corner of Rockhill and 46th Street.

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