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Sitting on a porch swing under a pergola in the Tuscan countryside sounds like an ideal way to spend an afternoon. But put that scenario inside a Minneapolis kitchen and, well, it’s not for everyone. That was the situation for a professional couple and their two teenagers.
A previous homeowner had brought in a blue-sky ceiling, decorative columns and, yes, a pergola with a porch swing as part of the kitchen design. After six years of living with the kitchen, the couple worked with designer Kate Roos to create a more user-friendly space that reflects the wife’s love of Belgian design — not Tuscany.
BEFORE: The extended L-shaped layout and strong Tuscan theme weren’t working for the homeowners. Here you can see the blue-sky ceiling, decorative columns and a bit of the pergola (to the right in this photo), from which hung a porch swing.
Also, because the previous homeowner was over 6 feet tall, the kitchen had counters that were 3 inches higher than standard height, which posed a problem for the petite wife.
AFTER: Roos scrubbed the pergola with swing, decorative columns and other Tuscan elements from the design. She widened an opening into the breakfast room to allow room for a new center island. The island features an elegant marble top, an integrated sink with a brass faucet and a quarter-sewn white oak base with a cerused finish. The homeowner had seen the latter while viewing photos on Houzz and liked the subtlety of the look.
Gray walls and custom cabinets and a crisp white ceiling set a soothing tone. The vintage glass pendants over the island once hung in a Belgian grocery store. The glass door on the right leads to a terrace.
BEFORE: A farmhouse sink set at an angle created an awkward experience. While the homeowners liked the character of the antique wood bar from Ireland being used as an island, the worn top was difficult to keep clean, so they repurposed it as a bar in another room.
AFTER: The sink was relocated to the new island. A convection oven now occupies the space on the end. Separate stainless steel refrigerator and freezer columns flank a new hidden coffee station.
The large pantry armoire (seen beyond the oven) stores the bulk of the family’s dry goods and includes vertical tray storage in the base, rollouts and drawers. The cased opening offers a view of the staircase to the upper level of the home. The open doorway at the right of the armoire leads to the dining room.
The large cabinets on top of the refrigerator and freezer store seasonal items.
Tucked-away cabinet doors open to reveal the coffee station, which includes a stainless steel microwave, marble countertop, espresso maker and blender. The large drawer below the coffee center holds utensils and measuring spoons, while the middle lower cabinet with pullouts holds morning essentials like cereal bowls, an egg cooker and small plates for toast.
The updated layout includes a bar around the corner from the navy blue French range. “While the range was definitely a splurge, we were able to use porcelain tile under $10 a foot for the floor,” says Roos, who placed the tiles in a herringbone pattern. The floor has radiant heat, which comes in handy during the cold Minnesota winters.
Shallow shelves added on each side of the range allow display storage of oils and spices. A piece of salvaged wood caps the range area.
This view from the pantry and bar area shows the elegant tufted banquette added where the porch swing and pergola once sat.
The banquette gets lots of natural light thanks to two of the kitchen’s four arched windows. It was designed to look like a piece of furniture, with legs that lift the piece off the floor. The wife “wanted something more than just island seating, where she could entertain as well as have casual family meals,” Roos says.