Custom Crafted At the Heart of the Home

In a previous post we talked about ‘island living: pull up a stool’. Kitchen islands are a popular spot for wood tops, but what about the overall kitchen materials and design? What considerations are made to keep the chef(s) connected with family and guests? What about  storage space? Wood species and finishes? Rob, GM of our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, and Andrew, interiors specialist in our design group, offered some insights.

“Why custom?” Rob clarified before answering: “We like to tailor the kitchen to exactly what the client wants and needs. We can match, and hopefully enhance, the way they cook, serve, eat, entertain and live.”

Kitchen islands—central for gathering, food, and when necessary a spot to perch for a great photo op as Jonathan demonstrates!

Kitchens are often considered the heart of the home. Andrew shared a little history: “Interestingly enough the kitchen has gone full-circle in the lifespan of our country. In the span of 200 years we’ve gone from one room cabins where gathering around the hearth was simply a way of life, to the affluent days of the to-be-left-unseen butler’s pantry and galley kitchen separate from the dining/social areas of the home, to a revival of the central hearth concept appearing today in the form of ‘open plan living’.”

Today’s modern families have packed schedules. They’re often multi-tasking and seeking more functionality from all aspects of their home. The kitchen, in particular, is often a multi-functional space key to the success of a modern family. “Multiple surface heights, or changes in countertop materials, offer a psychological cue that these areas allow for varying activities in the same space. The kids can sit at a raised section of wood counter at a large island while mom or dad makes dinner on their quartz surface at counter-height,” explained Andrew.

“People are spending more time in their kitchens, so built-in booths, benches, or seating areas (sometimes called a ‘keeping room’) allow for more comfortable socialization in the space. Televisions are also on the upward trend, although we find it most aesthetically pleasing to keep those hidden in a cabinet, or to raise up out of a countertop on-demand.”

Layout, doors, drawers, shelving, materials, appliances—they are all very personal choices and within our projects are often influenced by the timber frame. Rob shared that at NEWwoodworks, “We’re open to whatever the designer and homeowner want to see and use. We can offer thoughts, ideas, and creative solutions to materials, design, and functional challenges. We enjoy the challenge of the timber frame—custom crafting each cabinet, drawer, counter, and shelf for each project. We see it as the timber frame becoming the framework for our ‘art’.”

“Beyond the attention to quality and detail, custom crafting allows us to create sizes and shapes that are unmatched by stock or even semi-custom cabinetry.” – Rob

“Material choices and opinions vary wildly—using rugged elements in modern environments or keeping the space sleek and ‘clean’. What’s important is solving the needs and wants of different people and their activities in the kitchen. We enjoy seeing elements morph and evolve over the course of planning. Our goal is to create a layout that will accommodate both present and future needs.” continued Rob.

Reclaimed oak was ‘toasted’ to create a darker, more rustic island with custom finished painted reclaimed oak cabinets behind.

Also taken into consideration when designing a kitchen is how people like to cook, how many people do the homeowners foresee actively using the kitchen at any given time, and how many people are they cooking for on an average night versus when hosting a party or a holiday gathering. Andrew added, “We’ve found some folks don’t fancy themselves as chefs so they may be content with a standard 36″ range and a microwave for the majority of their cooking. Others take great pride in what they create in the kitchen and how they are eating it. Cooking may be seen as a family event to spend a day together. Yet still, others may like to entertain, but not to cook, so a larger pantry featuring its own appliances, or catering kitchen might be a better solution.”

Live edge rails and stiles add more visual interest and personality to a long bank of cabinets in a lake home kitchen.

Pantries are great for keeping extra prep space as well as organization.

The options are nearly limitless for custom kitchens. At the heart of the home, vital and full of life, these are one of our favorite rooms. We’re interested in what type of kitchen you prefer. Are you an entertainer, better as the sou chef, or a family that cooks together? Send us a note to start the conversation.

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