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When this large family kitchen was remodeled, the owners wanted a multifunction space with improved circulation

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For a busy family, the kitchen is often the meeting point and crossroads of the home. As such, a successful kitchen design must accommodate the often-contradictory demands of family members, and also be a pleasant and efficient space.

When Jennifer Gilmer considered the design for this remodeled kitchen, improved traffic flow was one of the top priorities.

"Originally, the kitchen was smaller and there was a wall between it and the French doors. Once we removed that wall, we considered adding one large island, parallel to the cooking area, but felt that would still block in the room and impede the flow."

By introducing two smaller islands, set perpendicular to the range, traffic can circulate easily through the large space. There's also plenty of room for food preparation, serving and casual dining.

With so many large cabinet elements, Gilmer says it was important to keep the space from looking too cluttered. She chose a Biedermeier style that bridged the gap between the family's casual lifestyle and the more formal decor of the rest of the house.

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"The cabinets are made from sycamore," says Gilmer. "It's got a beautiful grain, almost like moire silk. We used a clear varnish to bring out that grain, without darkening the color of the pale wood."

Absolute black granite countertops and black cabinet detailing offer a requisite touch of formality and accentuate the lines of the cabinets. To keep the large islands from looking bulky, small bun feet lift each unit off the floor, and the column detailing at the ends breaks up the mass.

Full-height windows and French doors allow light to flood the room throughout the day. It is reflected by the shiny black counter surfaces, and the stainless steel backsplash of the cooking center, adding a touch of sparkle.

The homeowners enjoy entertaining, so a side cabinet serves as a beverage center. An ice maker and two integrated refrigerator drawers, supplemented by the microwave at the end of the adjacent island, make it easy to serve cold drinks and hot appetizers.

Ample storage was another key requirement. Gilmer ran the cabinets right up to the ceiling throughout the room, squeezing in a few precious inches at every opportunity.

"This is a large family kitchen and there's a lot of functionality, but it doesn't look busy," says Gilmer.

"Keeping everything fairly light – the cabinets, the walls and the floors – and then using simple black accent lines works to unify all the elements in the space. That's the key."

First published date: 01 December 2009

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Refrigerators 30in upright refrigerator/freezer by Liebherr; two 27in refrigerator drawers by Sub-Zero
Ice maker Sub-Zero
Countertops Honed absolute black granite from R Bratti Associates
Sinks Stainless steel by Franke
Range Wolf gas range with charbroiler
Microwave 24in stainless steel by GE
Dishwashers Miele and KitchenAid
Waste disposal Franke
Faucets Cold tap in nickel finish by Franke; pull-out faucets in stainless steel by Grohe
Kitchen designer Jennifer Gilmer, CKD, Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath Ltd (Chevy Chase, MD)
Cabinets Figured English sycamore with natural varnish