Custom kitchen serves chef’s needs

When a pair of empty-nesters came to Shelter to cook up plans for updating their longtime home, the kitchen was a key component. The couple enjoys entertaining, and the husband, an accomplished amateur chef, loves to prepare meals while guests are gathered nearby.

After analyzing how he’d been moving through his small kitchen — often forced to navigate around other people in the process — he brought insights to the table that fed into our design process.

Among the innovations we incorporated into this project were:

  • A layout that eschews the traditional kitchen work triangle and, instead, places items like the refrigerator and microwave – which tend to pull people into the cooking zone – on the outer edges of the room.


  • A prep sink embedded in a large kitchen island, with no hardware components set above the surface. This maximizes the workspace and allows the sink to vanish (under a cutting board) when the homeowners use the counter as a serving station. How did we provide control of the faucet? Foot pedals!


  • An accordion window above a long counter, facing the backyard patio. When closed, it allows sunlight to pour inside. When open, it creates an instant buffet serving space for outdoor dining parties.


  • A floor cabinet on casters, allowing it to move in and out of place. This flexibility lets the homeowners direct the flow of foot traffic, based on whether they’re serving people indoors or out.


The room also features soapstone countertops, slate flooring and a wood-fired pizza oven. Want a bigger taste of how it all turned out? See our portfolio.

Thinking about sprucing up your own empty nest? Our Reality Check can be a great “baby step” as you begin to explore your options.

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