“This was a typical ’60s ranch house,” said architect David Day of Kamilla Schenck’s Bellair residence. As the floorplan dictated, small rooms crowded the space, making the living and sleeping quarters feel disjointed, so the house was gutted.
“The only things that remained were the main floor structure, the basement, the walls, and most of the windows,” said Day.
Interestingly, while most of the living and sleeping spaces were moved from their original location, the kitchen stayed in the same spot and got bigger.
“The kitchen really worked where it was,” said Day, who worked with builder Shelter Associates Ltd., on the project.
The renovation, which took 11 months, focused on amplifying open spaces and bringing in natural light. Schenck and Day wanted to retain the integrity of the house and respected its previous life, so they preserved small reminders in design details.
“We kept all of the original floors and in the infill, where we removed wall, we moved [the wood] 90 degrees, so you can walk around and find the floor plan of the original house,” said Day. “Really, it’s a way to tell the story of the house.”
The kitchen is open and light, but it also offers privacy, like a box with open corners. It is exactly as Schenck envisioned it.
“From the very beginning, the thought was the feeling of it more than how it looked,” said Schenck. “I am Swedish, so I wanted the Swedish clean design with functionality being the primary driver, but I also spent time living in Spain and I wanted some warmth.”
The cabinets wrap the space on each side, but do so with a muted clear maple color and modern stainless steel fixtures. Opposite the wine cellar is a wall of cabinets with space-saving shelving and a Thermador refrigerator faced with maple panels that blend in. Schenck designed the space with her children in mind. Drawers with everyday utensils are at arm’s length, while other more delicate items are stored higher up.
“I wanted [the space] to be simple and peaceful, and that’s why I stuck to very few materials and colors,” said Schenck. “I wanted it open, but not exposed, and David was really good about creating the opening feeling without making it too open.”
From the kitchen, the view spans to the living room, with its masterfully designed fireplace and vaulted ceiling, to the light-filled dining room, and the entrance of the property.
Unsealed black granite countertops stretch from the stainless steel sink wall, to the wine cellar, to the central island, to the cooktop wall. The massive central island sports a small, round sink Schenck decided on mainly to ease the cooking process. The main kitchen sink sits at the opposite end of the room, so far that carrying a big pot of water to the stove could be pretty inconvenient. Schenck’s children also use the tiny sink to wash their hands and get ready for a meal.
The stove is a sleek Gaggenau induction stovetop that heats up water in no time and whose surface never gets hot. Schenck preferred it to a gas stove for accuracy and safety. It is also so seamlessly mounted that when it is not in use, Schenck is happy to have an additional working surface for her baking endeavors.
What made this project so successful, said Day, was the attention to detail in the partnership between the owner, architect, and builder. Day said all the parties worked together from day one, consulting with each other to solve each problem.
Schenck spent a lot of time designing the space and had help from her mother on vacation from Sweden. She recalled days spent delineating the location of appliances and cabinets with tape on the floor. Always, of course, with the architect’s trustworthy eye as a guide.
“I told him how I wanted it to feel and he created that feeling,” she said. “To make this feel and look simple is hard.”