A number of years ago, I did a design for the top two floors and the penthouse for a law firm in 200 State Street here in Boston. The penthouse was occupied by the firm’s library. The ceilings in the penthouse were so high that we were able to design a mezzanine within the space. But that is another story, including the Darth Vader lobby… But that’s a story for another day… This past week I came across a contemporary kitchen that would have been right at home in that kind of space. The designer had dealt beautifully with the issues that spaces with high ceilings bring with them. Issues having to do with scale, proportion, lighting and intimacy to name a few.
I estimate that the ceilings are between 13 and 14 feet off the floor. By introducing very pure simple forms in black, sandwiched between the light floor and walls and the not so light ceiling (Note that the floor and ceiling are both wood and quite textural as well.) the designer has immediately broken the space down into smaller visually manageable pieces. The top of the black fridge/cooking wall creates a strong horizontal line, helping to soften the impact of the high ceiling. The suspended stainless steel exhaust hood/light fixture over the island really helps anchor the cooking area, bringing the entire space right down to human scale. And I love the use of the stainless steel base to float the island off the floor.
On the other side of the cooking area, the three strong horizontal elements; base cabinets, back splash and upper cabinets, along with the large horizontal piece of art above also contribute the the sense of scale and place, making you comfortable in such a tall space. The other aspect of this particular point of view is how the horizontals draw your eye to the adjacent eating dining area and the view of the landscape beyond. Also note the connection to the dark window frames and the dark tree trunks. I find it quite pleasing.
The view to the small dining area. You see a change of scale toward smaller, more delicately shaped and detailed pieces, where people are going to sit and linger over a meal. Without the strong black forms or strong horizontal lines, the ceiling above is allowed to sweep outward and upward to meet the sky. Wonderful!!!!
Even at this scale, the strong sense of order prevails with the composition of the four pieces of art on the wall and then the cd player placed oh so thoughtfully and deliberately aligned visually with the front face of the HVAC cover and the bottom of the picture frames. The art is placed so that it can be appreciated while seated, helping to create a sense of closeness and intimacy. And then there are the chairs… The only soft forms in the entire space. How wonderfully inviting they are, so feminine in this masculine room. I just want to reach out and touch the wood back and arms. Another aspect of the chairs I like is that all the elements of the design are in the chair; the color black in the seat, the metal frame, the wood in the back and arms. Repetition of the theme down to the last little detail. Gorgeous.