What could an Italian Baroque church and your kitchen POSSIBLY have in common? Surprisingly, quite a lot, as I learned from a recent client’s project.
Situated in a noisy, dusty Roman crossroad, the Church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane is a masterful solution to a difficult location. Unlikely as it may seem, this church conveys important lessons for designers and their clients as they design challenging kitchens. Here’s why:
Successful kitchen remodeling requires a frank recognition of your home’s overall style, your available space, your budget and how you will use the rooms or space. And the approach must be visually interesting to camouflage defects and highlight assets.
Tall order, right? That’s where we take lessons from the San Carlo and its famous architect, Francesco Borromini.
Borromini’s primary challenge was the church’s proposed plot of land. It was cramped, surrounded by structures that could not be moved or stylistically changed.
Sort of like my client’s kitchen: there was a 21” deep unused alcove, situated in the historic townhouse kitchen, crying out for more storage space. The alcove’s three structural walls could not be moved and the owners liked to entertain.
However, the 21” depth only affected the far left and right sides of the alcove. Most of the center could accommodate a regular 24” base cabinet. So shelving and a wine cubby, which could accommodate a 21” depth, were relegated to the far left and right, respectively. Challenge solved.
Borromini also used geometric shapes and undulating lines to keep the eye moving back and forth across the façade and the interior areas.
Similarly, in my client’s kitchen, the protruding center base cabinets add interest without overwhelming the relatively compact townhouse kitchen. Another challenge solved.
A word of encouragement as you consider your own redesign needs: there are often more solutions than challenges. Defining your design challenge as specifically as you can will refine your search and keep you from getting confused.
Borromini did it on a grand scale. With a designer’s touch, so can you. And your kitchen will be as uniquely beautiful, and functional, as Borromini’s masterpiece.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your questions—it’s my responsibility to keep current with constantly evolving, and personalized solutions, especially for you.
Late summer…a time when kids move on to conquer the brave new world. And whether your children have moved out of a basement or a bedroom, you have just been given a massive amount of space to repurpose and enjoy. Here are some practical tips for using the space wisely.
First, declutter and give the junk away. Vietnam Veterans of America, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are just some of the entities you can use to get rid things you no longer need. Give yourself five minutes and you can come up with at least 10 other organizations which would benefit from your generosity. Then get going.
Once you have completed this step, take a minute to consider your work habits, hobbies and personal storage needs.
Has your dining room table doubled as a home office desk for the past 10 years? Then it’s time to clean out a bedroom; furnish it with attractive office furniture to give yourself a dedicated, personal space for working from home. And don’t forget to include good lighting, a comfortable chair and an ottoman for reading those reports.
Have a hankering to go back to your watercolor painting—a skill from long ago? Then, pick the newly empty room closest to a water line, and outfit one wall with base and wall cabinets, and a small bar sink. Organize the base cabinets with dividers for different sized canvases, and pull-outs so supplies stay organized and accessible. And the sink is good for clean-up.
Your smallest bedroom can be converted into a beautiful storage closet. Use it for seasonal clothing items, to store holiday decorations or for every day. If used for clothing and shoes, integrate luxurious seating. And, good lighting is a must, so that you get a true read on the clothing colors.
Most importantly, take the time to decide what you truly need and want. And, if you need a sounding board, consider hiring a designer. Designers will assist you in matching the space to the function, with layout, lighting and aesthetics. Services can range from hourly consults to specifying finishes to overseeing the entire project.
However you decide to repurpose your empty nest, remember that your ultimate goal is to make it comfortable, attractive and functional for nobody but you.