A family’s desire to use lumber milled from a fallen tree plus
the need for a new kitchen proved the perfect pairing
for this project rife with natural materials.
Cabinetry for many, but not all, of my projects is custom made (see Rounding the Corner). Working with my cabinetmaker, I design the doors and drawers, select wood species and determine finishes-whether they be paint or stain, dark or light, shiny or matte. Each and every detail is open to discussion: that’s what custom cabinetry means to me.
The owners of this house added new meaning to the term custom cabinetry when they requested that the woodwork for their new kitchen be made from the raw lumber of a giant oak tree that fell on their family’s farm. Happily, my cabinetmaker jumped at this opportunity since he had the means in his shop to plane roughhewn boards into usable planks for the cabinets and matching trim.
To honor the mighty oak and complement its natural apricot-colored hue, I chose equally durable and handsome materials for the other components. For the countertops, I found a green-gray slate whose cream markings are said to look like reflections on a moonlit lake. To call out the repetitive panels of the cabinet fronts, I painted their projecting moldings to match the counter tops. For the backsplash, the owners were drawn to handmade tiles made by pressing wildflowers into wet clay (see Morning Glory). I arranged the winsome tiles in a simple quilt pattern.
Instead of more tiles on the floor, I suggested real linoleum for its antibacterial properties and softness underfoot. The mottled designs of the apricot, cream and light blue tiles were worked into a pattern inspired by the interwoven tapes of Shaker chairs as a nod to the old-world craftsmanship aspired to here.