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In this remodeled kitchen, subtle detailing and abstract interpretations of materials keep the spirit of the original architecture alive

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Remodeling this kitchen, part of an architecturally significant home, was always going to require a sensitive approach.

While the new design needed to meet the owners' requirements as serious cooks, it was important to keep the original spirit of the house alive, says architect Rick Corsini.

"The house was built in 1948 by Lloyd Wright, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright. It is one of the few houses he completed that is closely aligned with his father's Usonian houses of the 1930s and 1940s."

Planned on a triangular grid, the living spaces feature very few 90º angles. The kitchen is placed on one side of the living areas, a separate but adjoining space. Keeping it open and fluid to the other spaces, while maintaining a visual connection with the outdoors, was a challenge, Corsini says.

Subtle details create a dialogue between the original architecture and the new. Although dark walnut cabinetry is now a predominant feature, hints of the original redwood can be found towards the rear of the kitchen. The maple base of the island provides a contrasting element in the centre of the room. Walls of concrete block, once plastered over and painted the color of eucalyptus, have been exposed to create texture. Black linoleum made with linseed oil, hemp and clay replaces the original linoleum tiles, another surface that's in keeping with the modest material palette of Usonian houses, says Corsini.

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The space's simple, sculptural forms belie a high level of functionality.

"Keeping in mind the owners' passion for cooking, everything in the kitchen has been designed with cockpit precision," says Corsini.

Deep drawers placed at convenient lower levels make for kitchen ergonomic and user-friendly storage. Customized drawers on the island are designed to house a range of conveniences, including storage for cutlery, spices, pots and bins of potatoes and flour. Vegetables can be washed in the island's circular sink, while another sink next to the dishwasher can be used for rinsing dirty plates.

To meet the requirements for an eco-friendly design, there are separate pull-outs for trash and recyclables, and a compost drawer on the island.

First published date: 24 August 2003

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Credit List

Kitchen design Richard Corsini, Corsini Architects, AIA (Los Angeles)
Architect and interior design Richard Corsini
Cabinets Walnut in a satin polyurethane finish
Countertops Stainless steel and walnut
Backsplash Stainless steel
Flooring Sheet linoleum in Solid Black from Forbo
Window/door furniture Custom wood
Bar stools Giulietta
Lighting Halo, Translite Sonoma
Sinks Elkay, Kohler
Faucets KWC
Cooktop and ventilation Viking
Oven, refrigerator, dishwasher and waste unit KitchenAid