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Kitchen of the Week: An Ikea Kitchen with an Elegant Upper Cabinet Solution

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Kitchen of the Week: An Ikea Kitchen with an Elegant Upper Cabinet Solution

January 4, 2018

“Every once in a while, you’re lucky enough to pair up with a client who’s on the same aesthetic wavelength,” says Kevin Greenberg, principal of NYC design firm Space Exploration, about a recent prewar apartment remodel fronting Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. The clients—a photographer and a solar engineer—exuded a “relaxed intelligence” throughout the design process.

When work began, the 800-square-foot apartment was in great shape for its era—but had a dated kitchen that lacked a serviceable floor plan. According to Greenberg,”The galley-style kitchen was separated from the living room by a thick partition, but the owners wanted the kitchen to function in communion with the rest of the space.” The firm knocked down the wall, then turned to Ikea for basic cabinetry while forging a semi-custom system with glossy cabinet fronts, marble countertops, and an architectural solution for making the Ikea cabinets look far higher-end than they really are. Read on for the details.

Photography by and courtesy of Space Exploration.

The kitchen is a modified Ikea system with Ringhult glossy white cabinet doors and brass hardware from Rejuvenation.
Above: The kitchen is a modified Ikea system with Ringhult glossy white cabinet doors and brass hardware from Rejuvenation.
Typical of Space Exploration projects, says the principal, the studio overhauled the home while keeping as much original detailing as possible. “Right away, I knew we needed to employ a light touch with the project,” said Greenberg.

 The countertop and backsplash are bianco gioia marble, and the apartment is painted throughout in Wevet by Farrow & Ball. The kitchen window has its original casing.
Above: The countertop and backsplash are bianco gioia marble, and the apartment is painted throughout in Wevet by Farrow & Ball. The kitchen window has its original casing.
The designers replaced the heavily scarred original parquet oak floors with new walnut floors (they’re “a nice complement to the other, more minimalist interventions we made in the space,” Greenberg says).

 Note how the upper cabinets meet the wall above: Space Exploration built an extension from the ceiling “to catch the top of the cabinets rather than leaving room above them.”
Above: Note how the upper cabinets meet the wall above: Space Exploration built an extension from the ceiling “to catch the top of the cabinets rather than leaving room above them.”

Connecting the cabinets to the wall serves a few purposes: It gives the cabinetry “more of a custom, built-in look, rather than feeling like boxes stuck on a wall,” Greenberg says. It also eases the transition between the new cabinetry and the apartment’s original, subtle, plaster ceiling crown. (“I tend to dislike the relationship between molding and the upper cabinets in kitchens that leave space above the cabinetry.”)

The stainless steel range is by NXR.
Above: The stainless steel range is by NXR.
The homeowners wanted a built-in banquette, so Space Exploration designed a custom L-shaped bench of oil-finished white oak with matching trestle table, installed in a corner of the kitchen. The wall just beyond opens onto the living room.
Above: The homeowners wanted a built-in banquette, so Space Exploration designed a custom L-shaped bench of oil-finished white oak with matching trestle table, installed in a corner of the kitchen. The wall just beyond opens onto the living room.

Hanging above the dining table is Michael Anastassiades’s String Light for Flos, which Greenberg says is “designed to encourage the owner to create a linear design with the cord.” The dining chairs are vintage Cesca chairs by Marcel Breuer.
Above: Hanging above the dining table is Michael Anastassiades’s String Light for Flos, which Greenberg says is “designed to encourage the owner to create a linear design with the cord.” The dining chairs are vintage Cesca chairs by Marcel Breuer.
Designing a kitchen? Start with our Remodeling 101: Kitchens guide, where you’ll find help with Kitchen Design, Kitchen Cabinets & Hardware, and Kitchen Storage & Organization. Then browse more favorite kitchens in:

Finally, get more ideas on how to evaluate and choose kitchen cabinetry and hardware in our Remodeling 101 Guide: Kitchen Cabinets & Hardware.

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