Three years ago, Andre Martin and Julie Duke moved with their two kids from Denver to Portland, Oregon, for work. Once there, they found a Georgian-style house built in 1922 that had lots of character and traditional detailing. But the couple, who prefer a more transitional style (which marries old with new), wanted to make the house their own. At the top of their list was giving the existing kitchen, with its white color palette and tight layout, a fresh spin. Working with designer Alissa Pulcrano, the couple created a more open layout that enables them to prepare meals as a family. Meanwhile, bold black-blue cabinets and black trim deliver a dose of drama.
Photos by Leela Brightenburg of bright designlab
Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here:
Andre Martin and Julie Duke and their two kids
Arlington Heights neighborhood of Portland, Oregon
About 180 square feet (16.7 square meters)
Alissa Pulcrano of bright designlab
BEFORE: Problems with the existing layout kicked off the remodel for Martin and Duke, who like to crowd into the kitchen with their two kids to make family meals together. “The island was oversized for the space,” Duke says. “Everything happened in one tiny corner, and it just wasn’t laid out very well. There was also the huge hood over the range that we kept hitting our heads on — that really started the whole thing.” Additionally, the traditional white cabinets and other details weren’t in line with the couple’s style.
After gutting the space, the coupled donated the cabinets and counters to Habitat for Humanity, and gave the dishwasher and range to another family.
Eliminating a door to the outside on the left allowed room for a longer countertop, while eliminating a walk-in pantry to the right freed up space for a wall of cabinets that includes a new paneled refrigerator and double wall ovens.
Off-white walls with a soft yellow undertone give way to dramatic blackish-blue custom cabinets, which include paint-grade maple doors, dovetail drawers, maple interiors and Scandinavian-style brass handles. “We didn’t want to go all the way black, so this black-blue color was a nice way to make the kitchen feel less heavy,” Duke says. “We’re a bit playful, and this was also a way to do something different.”
Pulcrano wrapped two existing ceiling beams in oak and added a third beam for symmetry.
Wall paint: Mascarpone, Benjamin Moore; trim paint: Pitch Black, Farrow & Ball; cabinet paint: Black Blue, Farrow & Ball; cabinets: custom, Big Branch Woodworking; cabinet hardware: Superfront; cooktop and downdraft vent in island: Wolf; counters on island and perimeter: NatureCast concrete, Cement Elegance
A wider walkway between the sink and new island make for roomier family cooking nights. Cast-concrete countertops provide a durable work surface. Above the sink, lights with powder-coated black shades and solid brass arms complement the cabinet hardware.
Navire sconces: Atelier de Troupe; paneled refrigerator: Sub-Zero; wall ovens: Wolf
An appliance garage next to the paneled refrigerator and freezer hides an espresso maker, a French press and coffee mugs. Nearby, open white oak shelves with a cerused finish and brass brackets display ceramic dishes. “I really wanted the kitchen to be a clean and simple space, and not see lots of gadgets,” Duke says.
Shelf brackets: Nalata Nalata
Three large windows replaced a single window over the sink to bring in more natural light. The original oak floors were pulled up and reset in a herringbone pattern. “We liked the idea of keeping the original floor but using the pattern to make it a bit more interesting,” Duke says. “It helps keep it true to the house but feels more current.”
Island stools: homeowners’ existing
A deep undermount stainless steel sink can accommodate large pots. The unlacquered brass faucet will develop a patina over time.
Sink: Quatrus collection, Blanco; faucet: Watermark Designs; paneled dishwasher: Miele
A reading nook to the right of the double ovens gives the family a spot to catch up on books. Deep drawers below the built-in seat offer storage for school supplies, computer chargers, batteries and linens.
A new sliding glass door framed in black steel connects the kitchen to the front entry hall, powder room and mudroom. “We put that in there to close off the kitchen when we want to, but also have something that added architectural interest at the same time,” Duke says.
This view shows how the kitchen opens to a nearby dining area, which was previously a family room. Looking toward the adjacent dining area, you can see that the back of the island has a bank of drawers. They have heavy-duty glides for storage of pots and pans, and there’s lots of additional storage for large baking dishes, plastic storage containers and cast iron pots on the sink wall.
The area with the dining table is where the family room once stood. The family room was moved to an adjacent space previously used as a formal dining room.
BEFORE: Here’s the family room before it got moved to what was once the dining room. The generic gray tile fireplace surround didn’t fit the homeowners’ style. “It didn’t highlight the fireplace at all,” Duke says.
: Removing the sofa allowed space for the family’s existing wood dining table and contemporary light fixture. The fireplace was given a makeover with black hexagon tiles, and the window muntins were painted black to highlight the windows and contrast the lighter walls.
Chandelier: Apparatus; fireplace surround tiles: Dwell Patterns collection, Heath Ceramics
Near the dining table hangs a 12-sided wall mirror with brass accents.
Haynes mirror: Egg Collective; dining table: homeowners’ existing; dining chairs: Modernica
BEFORE: The floor plan for the previous kitchen illustrates the tight layout and limited workspace.
AFTER: The new plan shows how the reconfigured layout has created a more open and efficient space.
General contractor: Lorence Brothers Construction
via Kitchen of the Week: Blue-Black Cabinets Bring the Drama