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Suburban modern: contemporary color and shopping savvy create a sleek, open kitchen.

When Christopher and Christy Slye of Alamo, California, first met architect Philip Volkmann to discuss the remodel of their cramped 1950s ranch-house kitchen, they had already done a lot of research. Their goal was a clean, modern, and functional kitchen with a palette based on colors they had found in home decor books.


In response, Volkmann developed an open, flexible design. "They have a big rear yard, so we pushed the back wall out," Volkmann says. The extra 98 square feet meant better flow. The kitchen now has two doors to the dining room, allowing people to circulate without bottlenecking, a plus for entertaining and serving. Pocket doors close the kitchen off from the dining room when needed.

Christy and Christopher also centralized storage for large items along the refrigerator wall, helping to reduce clutter and make the room feel more spacious. Open shelves around the sink and range hold smaller objects, such as dishes, serving bowls, and glasses, items the couple uses every day.


Material search

The Slyes found appliances and finishes in books and on the Internet to create their unique look. "We really like the '50s aesthetic," Christy says. "But we wanted to juice it up with color and modern appliances."

For example, they wanted terrazzo floors, but the weight and the cost of the composite flooring (made of bits of natural stone in concrete) proved too heavy for their foundation and pocketbook. They searched the Web for "terrazzo floors" and found a company that makes a lighter, less expensive flooring, called Fritztile, by suspending bits of natural stone in resin. The product is most often used in commercial buildings, but it was the perfect solution for their kitchen.

DESIGN: Philip Volkmann, Barry & Volkmann Architects, Danville, CA ( or 925/837-1422)

RELATED ARTICLE: What they learned

The Slyes did their home-work and give this advice.


* Buy a refrigerator with a front designed for a panel insert. A panel lets you match surrounding cabinets for a modern look.

* Research brands on the Internet. Then tour show-rooms and visit retailers to see products up close. "Some things you just need to see and feel," Christopher says. "The Internet doesn't tell you how the door opens or the handle feels."

* Check home improvement stores often. Store merchandise tends to change frequently, so if you don't see something you like on your first trip, return often.

* Use off-the-shelf items in creative ways. Instead of using one cabinet color, the Slyes chose two plasticlaminate hues--blue and green--and added high-style handles for interest.

* Useful Internet sources. Crystal Cabinet Works for cabinetry ( or 800/347-5045), Fritz Industries for flooring ( or 800/633-6451), and Too Home for fixtures (

COPYRIGHT 2004 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Materials; related article: What they learned
Author:Bowling, Mary Jo
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2004
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