A California couple redesigns their kitchen to erase the barriers between inside and out. By Susan Heeger
When Kim Baer and Michael Sieverts hired architect Scott Prentice for a renovation, their goals were practical, not pricey:
They simply wanted to enjoy spending more time in their kitchen. Their top priorities were a better-organized space, environmentally
friendly design, and easier access to the backyard.
With its airy plan, open doors, and glass walls framing garden and sky, the kitchen is now a happy neighborhood hangout. From spring to fall, the weather is mild enough to roll up the glass garage door off the dining room and invite the neighbors—and the outside—in.
Scott Prentice Architects | Santa Monica, Calif., 310-454-5080
Rob Steiner, Landscape Architect | Los Angeles, 323-931-4425
KitchenAid | 800-422-1230
Häfele America Co. | 800-423-3531
Luna Garcia Pottery | Venice, Calif., 310-396-8026
Fisher & Paykel | 888-936-7872
In search of a refrigerator with a bottom freezer drawer to replace their side-by-side model, Baer and Sieverts rejected a top-of-the-line built-in choice that would have been the right counter-depth fit. To accommodate their less-expensive freestanding KitchenAid, Prentice designed a frame for the fridge that tricks the eye into seeing it as flush with the countertops.
Baer and Sieverts wanted to minimize clutter and expand storage, so Prentice gave them extra-large, under-the-counter cabinets with a clever shelving system—Häfele Magic Corner. When you swing open a cabinet door, which itself holds shelves on its reverse side, a lower platform fitted with more shelves slides into the space vacated by the open door.
The original kitchen had little storage, and what was there loomed mostly out of Baer's reach (she's just under 5 feet). A countertop appliance garage corrals much-used machines like the juicer and food processor. The cabinet, fitted with sliding doors, doubles as a partition between kitchen and living room.
For their household of two, Baer and Sieverts chose a two-drawer, Fisher & Paykel dishwasher, which uses a third less energy and half the water of their former conventional model. On ordinary days, the couple washes one drawerful of dishes at a time rather than waiting to fill a whole machine. But when they're entertaining, both drawers combine to handle a full load.
Redwood timbers from the old back deck were recycled to build raised beds for a kitchen garden. Sieverts, who tends the beds and does much of the cooking, likes to combine harvesting with entertaining. "Let's pick dinner!" he tells guests. The garden's winter-spring kale, chard, broccoli, and lettuces give way to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in summer.
To provide more options for outdoor dining and lounging, landscape architect Rob Steiner replaced a small deck with a larger one built of an Indonesian hardwood. A gate links the Baer-Sieverts' backyard to their next-door neighbors' house; children Sam, Abbie, Shai, and Jakie Grossman (ages 12, 11, 9, and 5) often come over for after-school snacks.