Balancing beauty with functionality, Carrie Mills at Urbana was given carte blanche to transform this dated U-shaped kitchen into a chef’s light-filled, contemporary cookery. The couple had been living in the beachfront house in Cordova Bay for a month when they decided to bring their nineties kitchen into the twenty-first century. As a passionate home chef, the kitchen is one room in their home in high demand. Like most homeowners, overwhelmed at the thought of a complete gut and kitchen renovation, the couple’s original intention was to give it a mini-update by replacing the dusty rose laminate countertops and dated almond appliances. However, after putting ‘some lipstick’ on their previous kitchen, the couple realized they wanted this to be their forever kitchen and one month later the kitchen was completely gutted. “Once we had given it some thought, we realized we wanted to build our dream kitchen; do it once and do it right,” says the owner.
“Their beach house interior has a minimalist, Scandinavian style so really getting familiar with the couple’s overall aesthetic was an important part of starting the design process,” says Mills. Already familiar with her design work, the couple was thrilled to let Mills completely drive the design. “When the couple approached me about the renovation they were considering only going half way, possibly replacing the appliances and changing a few cabinets, but then after seeing the old melamine cabinets and the dated appliances, I could see there was a lot of room for improvement. We gutted the entire room and focused on creating a chef’s kitchen with with a natural flow and plenty of storage,” says Mills.
At the centre of the owner’s wish list was a two-oven, 48-inch Bertazzoni gas range. The chef of the house had some ideas of what his perfect kitchen looked like but, given the unique shape of the space, he just couldn’t envision the execution. “The only other information we really gave Mills was that we wanted a farmhouse sink and marble countertops,” laughs the owner. Loving the look of marble for countertops, but not the risk of staining and etching, Mills suggested eco-friendly, water and heat resistant, Neolith. “We cook with a lot of sauces so staining was definitely a concern for us when considering countertops,” says the owner.
Equally as passionate about counter space as they are ranges, the couple knew they would need to maximize space in their unique, U-shaped kitchen. Mills reworked the space by pushing the kitchen boundary back to align with the structural post instead of building around it which gave them a larger, more functional area. Removing a pony wall ensured they were maximizing cabinetry and counter space to optimize prep and cooking functions.
Layout was one of the most important design considerations to ensure there were a few generous areas of prep space and an ergonomic work triangle with an ease of flow. U-shaped kitchens can be optimal spaces for high-efficiency prep and cooking and with a few options for the work triangle, Mills chose to keep the fridge and stove aligned with the stainless farmhouse sink taking centre stage at the point.
A unique feature of the original architecture, the row of skylights the length of the kitchen flood the space with natural light and give the kitchen an open, modern feel. “We love all the light in the kitchen and because we spend the majority of our time there, we wanted at least two people to be able to be in the kitchen comfortably,” says the owner. From getting vegetables from the fridge to washing, chopping and getting them to their range, Mills paid close attention to staging to create a chef’s kitchen with a natural, efficient flow. “You really don’t want to be running a marathon to get back and forth from your fridge and your range, it has a have a nice flow to function optimally,” explains Mills.
Replacing an awkward built-in pantry with modern cabinetry, Mills unlocked the potential of the space and more than doubled the storage. With adjustable shelves in the cabinets and roll-outs for easy access, the owners now have everything in its place and a place for everything.
White cabinets with stainless pulls keep this light-filled kitchen bright and sparkly while touches of contrasting wood add an organic warmth. The owner adds that, “not only is this a hard working, functional kitchen but Mills brought some really beautiful, unique features to it, like the floating shelves for example; they keep the space open and provide a pretty display space.”
She took our ideas to a whole new level; the transformation has changed the way we live. We are so relieved we didn’t go half-way with this renovation. We are in the kitchen a lot more now and enjoy spending time together cooking and just enjoying the space. We definitely got the kitchen we’ve always wanted.”