La Punta Residence
Orinda, California

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For a kitchen to really work well, each one of these items need to be addressed and resolved. There are no generalized correct answers to any of these questions, only a correct answer for each individual cook.

The original Kitchen for a Cook was small, dark, and cramped, with no connection to the dining room, which was the main eating area. A discourse began between the architect and the client, centered on how the client works in her kitchen and the desired relationship between the kitchen and dining room, which would remain the primary eating area in the renovated kitchen. Other important considerations were how to incorporate an informal 'café nook' in the kitchen, and how to have an easy circulation between kitchen and dining area, for both people and food.

An open / closed kitchen design responded to the way the client cooks (alone) and her desires to hide the kitchen mess, yet maintain an openness of communication and circulation between the kitchen and dining room. A separate yet integrated part of the work space became the 'café nook'. Here's how the open / closed design worked out:

  • The division between the kitchen and dining area is 4' high – high enough to hide any mess in the kitchen and low enough to allow a visual connection between kitchen and dining, and allow light to filter between the rooms. The division also acts as a pass-through for food, dishes, etc.
  • The 4' high division is integrated with the countertop. In effect, it is a 12" deep cabinet that sits on top of a deep countertop, with sliding doors on either side of the cabinet to allow access to the cabinet from either the kitchen or dining room. Plates and glassware are stored in these 2-sided cabinets.
  • The 'café nook' is adjacent to the kitchen island, away from the work surfaces yet easily part of the social fabric of the kitchen. It serves a different function from the kitchen island, and has direct access to an exterior deck.

The resulting kitchen is ideal for a real cook, either cooking for a couple or for a crowd.

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