Two of the stovetop burners didn’t work. The refrigerator compressor died twice. And a chair was used to keep the oven door closed after the hinges gave out.
For a family of cooks, it was time either to replace the appliances or redo the kitchen. A Los Altos couple did both and ended up with an award-winning kitchen.
The handiwork of IKB Design & Construction in Los Altos, the project won the prestigious Judges Choice Award, considered the Best in Show, in the 2013 META Awards Contest sponsored by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry of Silicon Valley.
According to Ilona Lindauer, principal of IKB, the passions of the homeowners – bread baking and ceramics – drove the project. Oleg Kiselev, a software engineer, bakes bread several times a week and wanted a baking center. His wife, Monica Waldman, a potter and sculptor, wanted to display her art.
A dream kitchen
The new kitchen fulfills their wishes – plus there’s room for three cooks. The couple’s teenage daughter Rachael loves to cook and experiment with Asian dishes. Her repertoire includes both sweet (fruit tarts) and savory (Korean pancakes).
Old appliances aside, the original kitchen lacked counter and storage space. The aisles were too wide, the space designated for a TV was too small, the configuration all wrong.
“We optimized the space so that it is highly functional and aesthetically pleasing,” Lindauer said.
The pièce de résistance is the multiuse L-shaped island, which has a circular eating area at one end.
“We wanted to sit and eat as a family,” Waldman said. “And it’s nice to be able to sit down and talk to the person cooking.”
The island features a dynamic intersection of fused glass and granite. Cutting the 3-millimeter-thick glass for the counter was a monumental undertaking. On the first try, the glass shattered. On the second try, it took eight hours to chamfer a curved channel for the LED lighting (Kiselev’s idea), which makes the glass glow. Bent-wood veneer surrounds the counter base column.
The island incorporates an illuminated, three-sided glass cabinet facing the breakfast nook – the perfect place to showcase Waldman’s pottery and ceramic sculptures. (One of her sculptures, “Catch,” is on display in the Los Altos History Museum’s “Los Altos – Moving Art Forward” exhibition.)
In addition, the island has a sink, food-prep area, storage space and bookcase. Kiselev needed a place for his bread books. He bakes bread several times a week and takes his cue from Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery & Cafe in San Francisco.
The kitchen’s baking station boasts ample space for bulk ingredients, small appliances and tools. On one side is the refrigerator; on the other, a steam oven and conventional oven. Tall cabinets have opaque glass fronts to conceal the pull-out shelves.
LED lights illuminate the floating glass shelves above the range-top area. The range is a six-burner Wolf gas model and, above it, an effective vent hood replaced the “horrible” downdraft.
“The vaulted ceilings add drama but created a challenge in mounting light fixtures and trimming out the hood,” Lindauer said.
The multicolored light fixtures complement the LEDs.
The ropey cherry-wood cabinetry is enhanced with dark grooves in the overlay doorframe. Two types of granite, leathered and matte, were combined for the countertops.
Floor-to-ceiling windows in the breakfast nook frame the backyard and flood the kitchen with light.
“Oleg wanted to bring the outdoors in, so we used a custom color on the walls that changes with the light,” Lindauer said.
It’s a dream kitchen for the family to work in. In the summer, they can tomatoes and make jams and jellies from the fruit in their garden. They grow peaches, pears, apples, blueberries, raspberries, currants, quince, kumquats and more.
It stands to reason that if you have homemade bread, you need homemade jam.