Blog by Beebe Cline

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Kitchen of the Week: Aqua Knockout in Austin

Formal dining went out the window when designer Jennifer Ott remodeled the kitchen in her Austin, Texas, home. Ott and her husband didn't use the huge closed-off dining space next to the original small kitchen, so they knocked down the walls to create a contemporary, open space for entertaining as well as cooking. Bold colors, two pantries, clever cabinet designs and a smart breakfast nook now give her the space and style she craved.
Ott wanted plenty of countertop workspace to share with her husband, and room for two cooks and guests to move comfortably around the kitchen. "I'm a fan of generous aisle widths," she says. "If you cook or entertain often and have the space, I suggest 48-inch to 54-inch wide aisles. More than 54 inches starts to feel too wide, and you'll feel like you've run a marathon after making a meal." After the remodel, the kitchen is 250 square feet, and the dining space is 115 square feet.

Cabinetry: Ikea base cabinet boxes, Texas Trim pecan door and drawer fronts; shelving: custom pecan; countertops: concrete by Caesarstone; range, hood: Wolf
After the walls between the original kitchen and dining rooms were knocked down, architect Christy Seals of Loop Design had to integrate a large beam to support the load of the second story, which was quite a challenge. Since the beam is a foot thick, it meant they had to lower the ceiling height in this area. However, Ott loves the varying ceiling heights — they allow for a subtle openness in the kitchen and intimacy in the dining area.

Ott chose the colors based on housewares she'd fallen in love with. Her strategy was to use neutral colors for materials that are expensive or difficult to change — like the quartz countertop and concrete floor — and use bold colors for materials that are cheap and easy to change out — like paint and accessories.

Flooring: concrete overlay; wall paint: Parakeet, Sherwin Williams; island paint: Larchmere, Sherwin Williams; bar stools: Ikea
Although she loves her kitchen neat and clean, Ott isn't always able to stay on top of putting everything away. She designed the window seat as a secret storage area, with a huge space for oversize and little-used items. Two pantries at the far end of the kitchen help with this too. Since the pantries are behind closed doors, she doesn't have to worry about them being spotless.

Refrigerator: Samsung; pendants in dining room: Firefly, CB2; window seat fabric: Small Dandelion, Premier Prints
Ott put extra-large drawers in the base cabinets, rather than fixed shelves, making it easier for her to reach kitchen items. Often-used bowls, glasses and plates were put on the open pecan shelving, to prevent constant dusting. Ott also used the home's existing plumbing to keep costs down. This limited the kitchen's layout, but they had plenty of space to work with.

"Nobody has an unlimited budget, so it's good to figure out what your priorities are and put the money in the items that make the most sense for you, for how you'll use your kitchen," Ott says. "I don't bake, so I didn't need two separate wall ovens. It may be a popular must-have for a lot of people, but we just didn't need it."

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