Kitchen of the Week: Wood and Black Cabinets and Better Flow

“After” photos by Sarah Baker Photos

Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here: Mike and Stacie Duke
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Size: 300 square feet (28 square meters)
Designer: Jennifer Strickler Design

Before: Dark distressed cabinets and dark granite countertops weighed down the previous kitchen. And travertine tile floors gave it a chilly feel.

The load-bearing wall on the right, where the fridge is located, separated the kitchen from the dining room, while the peninsula in the foreground cut off the kitchen from the living room. Not an ideal setup for a couple who like to entertain.

An electric cooktop took up most of the minimal island space, and there wasn’t much counter space elsewhere. The built-in desk area to the left of the microwave never got used.

“I immediately saw the flow wasn’t working,” Strickler says. “The fact that the island was so small and taken up by a cooktop was not practical for them.”

After: Strickler took the kitchen down to the studs and started fresh. She removed the load-bearing wall to open the space to the dining room. And she ditched the peninsula for a central island. Those moves created much better traffic flow into and around the kitchen for guests, and the generous island countertop can act as a hub and buffet space. “[The wall] was keeping people separated from the dining room and kitchen,” Strickler says.

She also rejiggered the appliance layout, placing a paneled refrigerator to the left of the new gas range, which sits on the back wall, and a spacious sink in the island, creating an efficient work triangle.

With the function in place, she turned her attention to the style. Dark black cabinets and island base (Onyx by Benjamin Moore) add a touch of drama, warmed by stained maple cabinets and solid red oak flooring.

Light greige walls and ceiling (Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore) and bright white trim (Extra White by Sherwin-Williams) keep things from veering too moody. “She expressed pretty early on she was thinking of stained cabinets, but also a wood floor,” Strickler says. “The black cabinets offer a contrast for the wood floor. And I love the contrast of the gold hardware with the black cabinets. It’s classic and rich, and adds warmth.”

Glass fronts on the maple upper cabinets flanking the custom maple range hood help visually break up the look. “We wanted to try and lighten up how everything felt,” Stacie says. Electrical strips under the cabinets keep the backsplash free of outlets.

The 36-inch Fisher & Paykel range has a vintage-modern vibe that adds to the dressed-up style of the kitchen.

The couple rarely use a microwave, so they chose to put a small one in an appliance cabinet in the laundry room, around the corner from the kitchen.

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Marble elongated hexagonal tiles in a honed finish form the backsplash. “I knew I didn’t want a slab,” Stacie says. “I wanted something with character. We opted for the horizontal pattern for a juxtaposition with the reeded doors on the refrigerator.”

The countertops are polished marble-look quartz.

Backsplash: Daphne White marble, Daltile

This interior side of the island includes four drawers that hold silverware and utensils, a pullout cutting board over a dish towel drawer, a paneled pullout trash and recycling center, a stainless steel sink workstation and a two-drawer dishwasher. A pull-down faucet in a champagne bronze finish coordinates with the brass cabinet hardware and other brass details.

Faucet: Trinsic in champagne bronze, Delta Faucet

A pair of 30-inch conical drum pendant lights over the island have aged brass details and white linen shades, offering a modern take on a vintage look. Undercabinet lighting over task areas and relocated LED ceiling fixtures add layers of light.

Modern backless bar stools feature warm ash frames and saddle-style seats with distressed black faux leather. “We have deep cabinets there by the stools,” Stacie says. “That’s where I store kitchen items I use less often.”

The paneled fridge features a reeded door design. “We felt since we couldn’t have a symmetrical look, we decided to go with decorated doors that you don’t see anywhere else in the kitchen,” Strickler says.

“We took the reeded design up to that cabinet above the refrigerator, so it looks like a piece of furniture,” Stacie says.

The cabinetry wraps around to the former desk area, now a coffee and beverage station. Two shallow pantry cabinets with 12-inch-deep shelves sit around the corner from the refrigerator. “We didn’t want them to stick out too far because we needed that space for the beverage center,” Strickler says.

The same marble elongated hexagonal tile used in the kitchen forms the beverage center backsplash. The countertops are also the same marble-look quartz.

An upper glass-front cabinet stores glasses. Three drawers hold entertaining supplies. And a two-zone wine and beverage fridge keeps drinks cold. “Since we removed that other wall and lost storage, we thought about how we could better use that nook,” Strickler says.

Drawers on one island end hold notepads and pens, as well as snacks for the Dukes’ grandkids. Drawers on the other end store baking pans, cookie sheets and cutting boards. Stacie didn’t want these items stored above her refrigerator. “I’m short and didn’t want to get a step stool every time I wanted to get a baking pan,” she says.

Electrical strips are tucked under the counter on both ends of the island.

This content was originally published here.

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