Pull Up a Stool – Island Living

Grab a stool and a cutting board, or a plate, or a pencil, or a toothpick, or a tablet, or…?! Welcome to the kitchen island. Food prep, snack counter, breakfast bar, coffee cafe, homework hub, central party point, family communication center—its uses are nearly limitless.

painted and walnut island by newwoodworks

If a kitchen is ‘the heart of the home’, then the island is arguably a home’s centerpiece; imperative at meal times, after school, and during gatherings with friends and family. “I truly enjoy the engagement with and connection most people feel towards this area. I have the most fun working with our clients on their islands. These structures are the ‘sweet spot’.  Looking back on 21 years of this work with New Energy Works, I think islands are often the best part of any job,” said Rob, General Manager and lead designer for NEWwoodworks.

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Rob was enjoying a few moments at the island before the Open House of a project we built on Keuka Lake.

As we approach kitchen design, islands are carefully considered, discussed at length, loosely outlined, discussed more, and finalized in detail. “When we have the opportunity to design this area our goal is to bring a thoughtful and logical approach to creating a comfortable, functional, and engaging space incorporating the family’s varied wants and needs,” continued Rob.

A "waterfall" of walnut flows over the bright Ash of the Olsen's kitchen island.

A “waterfall” of walnut flows over the bright Ash of the Olsen’s kitchen island.

How the island will be used is a vital question for homeowners. The square footage of the kitchen and interaction with the rest of the home will influence island location and size. Materials come in to play as an island can offer a change in color and texture or carry an aesthetic through. Large or compact the versatility of the additional space, visual break, and social anchor offered by an island is unmatched.

Central for gathering, food, and when necessary a spot to perch for a great photo op!

The social and food hub – and when necessary an elevated spot for a great photo op or a light bit of tap dancing!

Carrying the oak paneling pattern throughout the kitchen and island was key for this NYC home.

Carrying the oak paneling proportions throughout the kitchen and island was key for this NYC home.

Islands are frequently a literal barrier, dividing the functional space of the kitchen and giving cooks their own main space, but still allowing room for another chef. In very modest footprints they can offer important additional work surface, house extra cabinetry and storage, and take place of a dining table.

Two cooks in the kitchen. Jennifer and Maxine make the most of prep areas in the Vermont Street Project.

Two cooks in the kitchen. Jennifer and Maxine make the most of prep areas in the Vermont Street Project.

The wish list is often broad and varied for how an island will function. Generally, they provide a division of space, particularly in open floor plans. “Working closely with NEWwoodworks we’ve designed islands that are ‘prep only’, ‘service’ oriented, and ‘bar’ islands to name a few generalities. I agree with Rob; in my mind one of the biggest factors is functionality,” explained Andrew of our Design Group. ‘Prep only’ islands typically include a prep sink, butcher block top, and trash/compost bin.

A modest reclaimed Jarrah wood island with a soap stone top and steel sink provides a bit of additional prep space.

A modest Reclaimed Jarrah wood island with a soap stone top and steel sink provides a bit of additional prep space.

HF custom kitchen matt wittmeyer photo

Live edges, butterfly joinery, slate tops, an additional rolling butcher block, and ample counter surfaces afford a growing family space for everyone to participate in kitchen activities.

Others are ‘service’ oriented offering a second oven, cook top, grill, and more. ‘Bar islands’ have been an occasional theme, designed to be an entertainment hub with a bar sink, beverage coolers, and dishwasher drawers.

HF kitchen matt wittmeyer photo

A bar island crafted from reclaimed wood - tops and cabinetry - with shelving from agricultural salvaged timbers.

A bar island crafted from reclaimed wood – tops and cabinetry – with shelving from agricultural salvaged timbers.

We’ve found the service style works well for open kitchens when we can provide the cook with a specific view while they interact with guests, yet maintain a clearly separate workstation.

Good Luck food photo for Rochester Magazine. (Staff Photo by Matt Wittmeyer 051909)

A lake home’s reclaimed beech kitchen affords panoramic views of the water and abundant space for entertaining. Photo by Matt Wittmeyer.

Broad open views of the living spaces are enjoyed from the cook's vantage over the island of this lake home kitchen.

Broad, open views of the living and dining spaces are enjoyed from the cook’s vantage over the island of this lake home kitchen. Reclaimed oak was “toasted” to a darker patina adding a bit of rich color to an otherwise light palette.

Split level islands further differentiate the cooking space from ‘guest’ space. This style allows a bit of camouflaging for dishes, pots/pans, the microwave, dishwasher, and more. It also offers protection for homework, electronics, or any other non-kitchen happenings at the island. We’re believers in “wood where the elbows are” and the split level is often created with this in mind.

Jake demonstrates our belief that there should be “wood where the elbows are” for any kitchen surface where entertaining and eating take place.

Young Jake demonstrates our belief that there should be “wood where the elbows are” for any kitchen surface where entertaining and eating take place.

Wood where the elbows are.

A split level island puts wood where the elbows are using live-edge walnut atop reclaimed “toasted” oak.

remodeled kitchen newwoodworks 2

Rob explained, “The island serves many functions and is used quite differently by folks. I think it is the best part of any kitchen and a wonderful opportunity to get creative.

A painted island with a poured top and industrial stools/brackets adds color and functionality to a modest kitchen.

A painted island with a poured top and industrial stools/brackets adds color and functionality to a modest kitchen.

Are you looking for ideas on how to improve or add island living into your kitchen? Let us know. 

 

Harmony on the Hudson: The Olsen’s Timber Home Retreat Story

olsen-interiorTimber Home Living magazine documented the Olsen’s journey to building their family retreat in the Berkshires from 2014 to completion in 2016. What happens during a custom home building project? Starting with our design team join the story from the Olsen’s point of view as we craft the timber frame, enclosure, and custom woodworking. Click through each part of the eight part series below to get the inside scoop.

The Olsen’s story, and the Welcome Home Series, begins with the land…

Part 1: From Dream to Design
The Olsen’s begin designing their dream home on land they’d been spending vacation time visiting for 10 years. Harmony with the land and the family was a must.
view-from-olsenPart 2: Laying The Groundwork
Breaking ground – an exciting day, especially with a few last minute modifications.

groundbreaking-olsenPart 3: Built to Last
Our team raises the frame and the Olsen family watches their dream home take shape.
olsen-raisingPart 4: Worth the Wait
Weather delays…but not for long!
olsen-in-snowPart 5: Lessons Learned
Communication proves vital in the build process for sticking to the plan and modifying.
solar-array-olsenPart 6: Elements of Surprise
Nearing completion, creativity and flexibility lead to modified plans.
olsen-porchPart 7: The Big Finish
Mixed materials, including reclaimed wood, make a statement on the interior and exterior of the Olsen Home.
olsen-custom-cabinetry-reclaimed-floorPart 8: The Great Escape
“I definitely think we designed the right size house with the perfect layout,” says Greg Olsen.
olsen-porch-exteriorolsen-exterior-timber-frame-reclaimed-sidingOur notes:
When Greg and Dee approached us to craft their family’s timber frame retreat we knew it was going to be fun. Their philosophy fit with ours: they wanted to strike a balanced design, a home in harmony with the site that was as environmentally conscious as possible. Eliminating VOCs, incorporating reclaimed and organic materials, and a solar array were “must have” elements. Planning on large family gatherings and lots of cooks in the kitchen, there is ample party space with unobstructed southern views of the Catamount and Butternut Mountains. Screened and covered porches blur the line between interior and exterior spaces.

The resulting home celebrates a variety of reclaimed and storied wood: the timber frame is crafted from reclaimed Douglas fir; flooring is reclaimed Walnut on the upper level and reclaimed Teak on the lower level; wall paneling is reclaimed barn siding; reclaimed beech was used to create custom bed frames, night stands, and built-ins. Much of the cabinetry and built-ins, including the Ash kitchen cabinetry, was made by our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks. The kitchen island includes a “waterfall” of walnut as a prep/presentation area while the adjacent dining table seats up to twelve.

Case Study: Lakeside Charm on the Cliff

Years of dreaming and planning culminated in Tom and Maureen’s lakeside home. Situated on a steep slope, down a drive with several switchbacks, the site was both challenging and exciting to our construction group. Porches and decks welcome family and friends to enjoy lake views from outside, while reclaimed flooring from Pioneer Millworks and custom cabinetry by NEWwoodworks offer warm elegance inside. The design takes advantage of the site with large windows and walk-out lake access on the lower level.

Location: Naples, NY
Architect/Builder: New Energy Works
Size: 3,320 sq ft

View the entire case study here.

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The porte cochère of Tom and Maureen’s home has become a popular gathering space during parties and large family functions.

canandaigua_lake_home_great_room_timber_truss

Inside the home, the great room offers intimate volumes while capturing views of the trees and lake outside.

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Crafted by NEWwoodworks, the cherry cabinetry will continue to deep in tone and character as it naturally ages.

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New Home, Deep Roots

Rochester Magazine featured one of our local, reclaimed timber frame homes in a recent edition of the publication. This lakeside home is the second timber frame we’ve raised for a couple on Canandaigua Lake. It is crafted of reclaimed Douglas fir timbers sourced by Pioneer Millworks from the deconstructed 1930’s United Embroidery factory in New Jersey. The timbers were smooth finished and treated with oil to bring out the natural patina for a rustic, yet refined look. We recreated many of the details from the homeowners’ first home, including all interior doors, crafted from reclaimed wine vat stock. Other details include reclaimed oak flooring (also from Pioneer Millworks), a live edge island top, mantle/fireplace surround, custom built-ins for the great room and office, hand-crafted entry door, and bunk beds by NEWwoodworks.

Read their take on the project below.

Lecesse - Roc Magazine, Page 1 Lecesse - Roc Magazine, Page 2 Lecesse - Roc Magazine, Page 3 Lecesse - Roc Magazine, Page 4

The Tonic of Wildness – A Family’s Dream Home

Life in the Finger Lakes magazine featured one of our homes, designed and built in Honeoye Falls, New York for a young, growing family. Read the full article below:

First spread of pages of Life in the Finger Lakes timber frame home article.

With a focus on local, natural, and environmentally responsible materials, a young family’s dream home comes to life.

 

interior timber frame porch

Blurring the line between modern comforts and the great outdoors, porches and balconies are this family’s favorite spaces (especially enjoyed by the family canine, Molly).

 

interior timber frame staircase by new energy works

“From the white pine timbers to the beehive light fixtures, each element of the home reflects inspiration from nature,” explains Ty All of New Energy Works Timberframers.

timber frame home and barn in winter

timber frame kitchen by new energy works