Contemporary color and shopping savvy create a sleek, open kitchen
Suburban Modern
Mary Jo Bowling
Bright lights, large rectangular openings, and a simple palette of green, blue, white, and stainless steel create a clean look and a handsome foil for the curvilinear barstools.

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 (925/837-1422)