The Canoe

**This kitchen won the Platinum award for Kitchen of the Year 2015 from St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles magazine!!  Read the magazine article here.**

Friends from Ladue sent this lovely, charming and dignified newly married couple from Richmond Heights our way with a joyful assignment: Take a 1937 multi-generational home with many original features, and make it Theirs, not solely His!  This couple entertains regularly.  They use the dining room just West of the kitchen for dinner guests, but the kitchen itself was shy on preparation space or any central gathering spot for conversation.

The Canoe serves as their desired gathering spot, with comfortable traffic flow on all sides, and doubles as a wonderful prep island just across from the new Jenn-Air downdraft range.

We encouraged our newlyweds (although senior to me-congratulations!) to keep the wall dividing kitchen from breakfast room.  They wanted to expand by removing this wall or pushing the exterior to the East.  An addition would run up the price of remodeling dramatically.  But we were confident that the 1937 spaces were well-suited to conversation and for daily joys of the Love Nest: a cup of coffee on a Cherry Wood breakfast table, looking out the window to the pool while preparing the meal, reading the paper on the window seat or chatting.

The roughly 10 foot East wall allowed little room for prep work, and the soffit and poor lighting made the whole place a bit dreary.  My desire as the designer was to draw heavily from inspiration in 1930s automobiles.  I showed images to my clients of awesome old cars like the Phantom Corsair and others of that era – proving to them how “modern” was the aesthetic when their home was built.  Thus, I justified the curvy reformulation of this stunning new arrangement.  Special attention to positioning, plaster curves, feats of tiling, framing and trim were overseen by Keith Johnson of Johnson Interior Improvements.   (There is 1 cabinet in the room that’s set flat to the wall).

The arched doorways sort of blended out of view before, but we placed everything to highlight them, and used a color of paint that energizes the shapes of the plaster and feels current, but classic at the same time.

Moving room to room felt awkward at points like this where cabinets and counters were thrusting into hips rounding the corner at the doorway.  We are very careful to make sure that movement comes first in our kitchen projects.  When the people move comfortably, any space feels larger and more peaceful.

This custom-designed Cherry table rendered by Pete Voss has become the favorite respite of our Lady of the Manor.  The built-in Banquette draws one magnetically to take in the dappled sunshine and stay awhile in repose.  We shaped the lumbar support so that sitting back feels therapeutic.

Part of the magic of this Breakfast Room is the position of the legs at the ellipse table top.  2 couples  may enjoy drinks or breakfast on a weekend visit and no one is ever trapped on the bench.  The passage from front hall through Breakfast room to Kitchen is quite roomy and relaxed. The glass tile is Hirsch – Thanks, Ashley, as always! The fabric is by Kravet.

I (JC) created a Terra Cotta potted garden on the window sill/plateau corner featuring epiphytes and succulents that only require a spray of water twice each week for maintenance.  The various epiphytes (Bromeliads) will bloom at different times of year.  This combination of a North and East window provides the 8-10 hours of light these plants like without scorching them.

Granite: Hawaii.  Cherry and painted maple cabinets. Porcelain tile floor.  Ceramic herringbone backsplash.  Paint by Benjamin Moore. Silgranit sink and Blanco color-matched faucet. Appliances by Jenn-Air and Fisher & Paykel. Chrome Ellipse knobs from Locks & Pulls Design Elements. All lighting is LED. Thanks to Keith, Brad, Tyler and the incomparable Anne Matheis for these photographs.

If you are considering an addition project for your kitchen, we may be able to save you tens of thousands by redesigning within the 4 existing walls of your home.  Ask any question you like by emailing to

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