A 1920s home gets a grand kitchen makeover by Kitchen Studio.
Susan Summerlin believes she has the best kitchen on the planet. The 1921 storybook Jacobean-style house in Kansas City’s Country Club District that she shares with her husband, A.L., was the 2014 Symphony Designers’ Showhouse. The kitchen was completely remodeled for the show and designed by Katie Ott and Sue Shinneman of Kitchen Studio: Kansas City.
“I walk into my kitchen and I feel like I’m in a five-star hotel because it’s so elegant and it’s so functional and I’m amazed by it every day,” Summerlin says. “I mean that sincerely.”
Standing at her kitchen island, Summerlin looks out into her beautiful backyard full of plants. She sees the skylight above her breakfast nook. She runs her hand along the quartzite countertop, appreciating its decorative edge. She marvels at the custom-designed armoire that houses her refrigerator, knowing that it truly is a one-of-a-kind piece.
“It takes me to a level,” Summerlin says about her kitchen, raising her arm high for emphasis. “I really feel that, and everyone who walks in compliments the house over and over again. And guess what they always compliment? Always the kitchen. I really enjoy looking around and soaking it up. I really do.”
Working with the designers, Summerlin brought multiple pages of magazine tear-outs of her favorite kitchens so they knew very quickly her design aesthetic. The finished kitchen became one of Ott’s favorites.
“When I look at the kitchen, I see fresh — traditional but fresh,” Ott says. “Sometimes traditional can get a little overbearing, and so we were trying to clean it up a little bit, making sure that it stays closer to the style of the home but keeping it clean.”
Although the kitchen is not big, it was designed to feel big, with plenty of room for guests to walk around the island and around the six-chair round table in the kitchen’s adjacent breakfast nook.
Paramount in the design process was making sure the kitchen was user-friendly with ample space for storing essentials like cutlery and spices and a designated special refrigerator for beverages. Other features include a coffee bar, a resurfaced floor-to-ceiling limestone fireplace, and original leaded glass windows typical of the house’s time period, a range hood in cold rolled steel, a farmhouse sink with a divide, unique caged chandeliers and a soothing, cooling color palette.
The kitchen features state-of-the-art appliances supplied by Roth Living throughout, including the 48-inch duel-fuel Wolf stove with striking red knobs and Sub-Zero refrigerator. The kitchen is also equipped with all LED lighting for energy efficiency.
The designers paid particular attention to aesthetics, such as creating a decorative coffered ceiling and a herringbone-patterned ceramic tile backsplash with an interesting glaze that mimics the house’s brick backyard patio. “We didn’t want to clutter up the kitchen by putting some kind of artwork tile on there or something like that,” Ott says. “We wanted to keep it very simple and, again, trying to keep it a little bit more updated with cleaner lines without going boring. We took it [the tile backsplash] all the way up to the ceiling so as to not break the line of vision.”
Ott custom designed the armoire, her favorite element in the kitchen. It features not only a hidden refrigerator, storage and microwave, but also leaded glass detailing that ties in with the windows. “It’s unique,” she says. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It was really challenging to design it.”
Other challenges in the project stemmed from the surprises found when working with a home almost 100 years old, Ott says. Unexpected things always occur, like dealing with structural elements that can’t be moved.
For Ott, the true pleasure was getting to work with the Summerlins, and seeing their delight when they saw their completed kitchen for the first time.
Summerlin still gets that feeling every time she enters her kitchen. “As Oprah would say, there’s that ‘Aha’ moment,” she says.
Kitchen Studio: KC is located at 520 Avenida Cesar E. Chavez, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 221-311. Roth Living is located on the Country Club Plaza at 601 West 47th St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 556-3322. For more information visit kitchenstudiokc.com and rothliving.com.
Kitchen Source Book
All appliances from Roth Living:
SubZero Refrigerator, Beverage Refrigerator and Ice Maker
Wolf 48" Dual Fuel Range
Rutt Regency and Rutt Classic Handcrafted Cabinetry
Custom designed Cold Rolled Steel hood
Custom designed by Kitchen Studio, built by Cobb Construction
From Rensen House of Lights, chosen by Amber Gardner Interiors
Fireplace and fireplace surround
Realstone Stacked Stone and Limestone Hearth and surround
Custom armoire, concealing refrigerator
Rutt Classic Handcrafted Cabinetry, custom design by Kitchen Studio
Walls: Sherwin Williams in Repose Grey; Trim: Custom color by homeowners
Sea Pearl Quartzite
Cast iron sink by Kohler
Custom Stain blend on Red Oak by SVC
Remodeling and installation
Kitchen Studio: Kansas City