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  • Jennifer Chartier

The #KretzKitchen- Worth the Wait


There are natural steps to any big project wrap-up for the Wilhouse Designs studio. After all the construction dust settles, installs are complete, the client settles in, and final art & accessories are placed, we will often return to check-in and dub it officially finished with a photoshoot for the portfolio. But the #KretzKitchen project has unfortunately lingered in a bit of a project limbo for the better part of a year thanks to one.pesky.refrigerator. Our very patient client waited (and waited) as ship dates came and went for the special panel-ready fridge; it was a frustrating and all too common occurrence in an industry still backlogged from Covid delays and part shortages. The rest of the kitchen finished in 2021, and while we waited for the lone appliance to fit into place, the adjoining keeping room got a revamp of its own. Fast forward a bit more exercise in patience, and thankfully, it’s finally time for this space to have her chance in the spotlight with photographer Frank!

But before we reveal all of the jaw-dropping before and afters, let’s take a look back at the evolution of the #KretzKitchen. Reminiscing about their first meeting together, Andrea smiled “The moment I walked in, Vicki said ‘yes, I have pink in every room!’ I instantly knew we were going to be the perfect creative match since I often say pink is my spirit color! I was very taken with her taste in décor, from her skilled play with bright fresh colors, all the pinks, blues, and greens throughout, to her impeccable art collection.” That extensive collection became a key factor in the new color palette for the entire space. Aesthetically, the goal for the kitchen was to brighten it up by eliminating the stained wood and toning down the backsplash. With softer, light evoking tones in place, the kitchen and adjoining keeping room could become a sort of subtle canvas that would let her gorgeous art pieces shine.

Functionally, the kitchen required nothing more than minor tweaks to get the most out of its existing layout. The most beneficial adjustment was the elimination of the awkward corner sink. By moving it to a more natural spot further down the peninsula, the kitchen gained enough floorspace for a larger, more impressive center island. From there, it was simply the typical choreography of planning that perfect ratio of cabinets to drawers in the new custom cabinets! Perhaps one of the most clever spots in the configuration occurs at the end of the peninsula, where the cabinets once ended abruptly into a wall. By turning a large cabinet 90 degrees, our client gained a new use for a once unusable wall, along with something much more visually interesting. Andrea explained "the new solution allows your eye to stop at the edge of the kitchen before you transition over to the keeping room. It's a moment I really love that joined the two spaces together!"

With project objectives in place, Andrea went to work on the finishes and finer details. Tile flooring was demo'd in favor of beautiful wood floors to match the rest of the open concept space. In order to avoid too much background noise for the surrounding artwork, the main kitchen components were done in layers of creamy, off white, from the cabinets, to the "white rhino" marble counters, to the light hexagonal backsplash. Cabinet doors on the range wall boast a little added drama and character with the x motif and center medallion, drawing your eye upward and around the space, and the 'x' detail is subtly echoed in the columns on the peninsula. All the client's existing appliances were kept, from Thermador gas range, to the double wall ovens. Only one new large appliance purchase was necessary; yes, that star of our story, the fridge. Now that it's finally installed and hides beautifully in place with custom cabinet style panels to match the rest of the kitchen, we feel the final look was worth the long journey to get it home! ( Though we certainly won't speak for our client who lived through the progess!)

BEFORE- Heavy wood cabinets and competing flooring divided and darkened the two spaces.

THE DIRECTION- Andrea's new floor plan and custom cabinet drawings, depicting added island space in the kitchen and a more united living space for the family.

The kitchen wasn’t the only space to transform. Andrea jumped at the chance to add something bold and fun to offset the butler’s pantry. Heavy trim pieces were removed from the existing cabinets, and then walls, trim, and cabinets were painted a glossy, deep blue. Gold wallpaper was added to the ceiling for an extra pop of drama against the chic chandelier. What was once a forgotten transition between the dining room and kitchen, is now an area that demands attention! Across the hall, another secondary space received a dramatic change in the function department. The former mudroom was under-utilized, but the perfect size for a new kitchen appliance pantry, complete with open shelving and a built-in microwave.

BFORE- The Butler's pantry functioned, but demanded more personality!

AFTER- Glossy blue and antiqued gold were just the backdrop for our client's signature pink!

BEFORE & AFTER- The old mud closet gets a second life as a charming, ultra functional appliance pantry.

Last, but not least, we have to mention the stunning transformation in the keeping room. The effortless flow between the keeping room and open kitchen is a beautiful dance. They play off each other to create an entire family living space that is polished and elegant, but not stuffy, eliciting a warm and inviting glow that makes you feel at home the moment you enter. Easily the most impactful change to the keeping room was the demolition of the stone fireplace. It loomed heavy in an otherwise airy room, and it seemed to overshadow the flanking book cases. Once again, the plan for subtle and soft white tones is the saving grace for a new focal wall that really allows our client’s treasured collections do the talking. The bookcases were kept and with a more polished and understated fireplace, they look elevated and timeless. As for the rest of the room, layers of new furniture (that burlwood coffee table is our all-time favorite), lighting, and an updated iron stair rail were incorporated. Custom blue curtains behind the sofa were just the little pop of color the room demanded, while new couch pillows bring a little of that favorite color pink our client so adores. And we have to brag on our client for a moment. Vicki makes the final styling task easy; she has an excellent eye for accessories and personal touches, along with artwork large and small. So, the bookcases and walls reflect her vibrant personality beautifully!

BEFORE- The old fireplace dominated the room.

AFTER- Poised and Polished! The new light and airy finishes allow your eye to travel freely around the room, landing on all the interesting art and accessory moments, just as the design intended!

As any designer knows, renovating has always been an exercise in flexibility and patience. Even the best laid plans are forced to shift when project surprises pop up during demo and construction phases. But the industry still seems to be in a sort of recovery mode from the pandemic-era setback of parts and labor shortages. True, appliances have always come with extensive lead times (which is why Andrea’s process remains to choose and order those first during the planning phase), but over a year long wait for a refrigerator was certainly a first. We’re hopeful that we’ll continue seeing lead times fall back within normal ranges next year. But in the meantime, Andrea will continue to stay on top of the changing market, manage timelines and plan for the unexpected as much as possible as she works to create new dream spaces for our clients! And we sincerely hope that as Vicki is looking in the rear view on her big project and enjoying the fruits of her patience, the fridge that was promised and canceled umpteen times has become just a quick, funny party story as she opens it to grab more drinks!



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