Vibrant blue cabinets. Spouses who differ over whether a kitchen style should be clean and contemporary or feature heavier, carved Tuscan details. A busy family that needs a message board and charging station in a clean, clutter-free kitchen. A galley kitchen that must accommodate two cooks working together.
If you face challenges like these when planning your dream kitchen, check out how designers from Drury Studio in Glen Ellyn solved them for kitchens that won National Kitchen and Bath Association Midwest Design Vision awards. Their celebration is a great addition to the company's 25th anniversary.
Terry Kenney gulped hard when the Wheaton homeowners made it clear their new kitchen must include a very vibrant blue. No, accessories would not do.
The resulting design with blue painted island cabinets makes the homeowners "smile every time they walk into that kitchen," said Kenney.
But she helped them select every other material to "dilute" the impact of the blue island cabinets.
The countertop on that island is white granite with gray veining to "gray down that blue." The perimeter cabinets are all painted white with a plain black granite countertop. The floor is a warm wood, and the terra cotta walls in the nearby family room also help warm the space.
The original, chopped up kitchen dated from the late 1960s, so the new design is a big change.
"Whenever a customer wants to commit to a color, I make it clear you have to be comfortable with that color for the long term. Then we play it up or down. If that's clear, go for it. Have fun with it."
Gail Drury, co-owner of the studio, faced a Burr Ridge family where both husband and wife cook, and each has strong ideas of how a kitchen should look.
The wife wanted contemporary, the husband old-world Tuscan.
The result is a very elegant compromise Drury calls transitional leaning toward traditional.
The walnut island is heavier with more ornate legs than the wife might have selected. But the perimeter cabinets are maple painted white then glazed.
A mantel hood over the range would be used in an Old World style, but this one has simple lines and detailing. Diagonal mullions on glass doors are a new trend, said Drury.
The countertops are varying thicknesses of mother of pearl quartzite to resemble marble, and the limestone floor is timeless.
The kitchen is open to the family room, and the family is pleased with "how the whole room works together. People can watch television, children can do homework, and the kitchen flows so two cooks can work together."
The work won first place in the large kitchen category, and the wife got her wishes in the spalike master bath.
Gladys Schanstra won best of show with an Elmhurst kitchen that uses a popular trick. The message center and charging station for the family's cellphones are tucked inside a cabinet, removing clutter and preserving the easy-to-clean lines of this contemporary kitchen.
"The busier we are the more people tend to gravitate toward simple and cleaner lines," said Schanstra, whose kitchen is considered medium sized.
In this kitchen even the dark wood cabinets have a plain slab door, no frame or details. The island does not house a sink or cooktop, but can be wiped off with a swipe.
The wavy, handmade tiles above the cooktop provide contrast to all the straight lines in the room.
Schanstra thinks the island she designed with a bit of an L-shape to accommodate a column that could not be removed impressed the contest judges.
One trick Kenney used in a Geneva galley where both homeowners are retired and like to cook is a very wide sink that can accommodate a temporary Plexiglas partition and two faucets. That means one cook can prepare food while the other cleans up.
And, of course, each cook needs separate work spaces, which Kenney defines as ample counter space and room to pass by each other. This can also require tweaking a design to make sure everything, even coffee cups are in the right place.
Kenney and her clients chose all the materials to bring the outdoors in. The countertop is green, gold and white, and the green glass mosaic backsplash features a diagonal of rusty red running through it like the stream the house bridges.
And the couple rejected Kenney's suggestion for a sink by the window that overlooks the stream because they knew they wanted a little table there so they could sit and plan recipes and drink coffee.