KDC Q&A: Jean Stoffer

November 25, 2013
KDC Q&A with Jean Stoffer, Jean Stoffer Design

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This is part of an ongoing series of posts in which we’ll take an in-depth look at the story behind the winning designs in our 2010-2012 Kitchen Design Contest.

Sub-Zero and Wolf: Who drove the inspiration for this design?
Jean Stoffer: Definitely both. The client is a professional interior designer and brought some great details she hoped to incorporate into the design. She relied on me to lay the room out and design the room functionally, architecturally and even aesthetically. She added ideas such as the “X” feature on the island ends.

SZW: What inspired it?
JS: The architecture and setting of the home was a big inspiration. It is in a neighborhood in Chicago filled with tall, narrow graystones. The lines of the home are classic and elegant. It is very restrained in ornamentation and has a linear ethos. We wanted to honor that and kick it up a notch into a little more of a contemporary range.

SZW: Was there an overarching theme to the design?
JS: Not sure about a “theme” but we definitely wanted to keep it clean and open. And we were very keen on symmetry.

SZW: Why were the colors in this kitchen chosen? Were there other colors that were considered?
JS: We wanted to keep things as light as possible to overcome the lack of windows on all the long, side walls of the home. In the city, it doesn’t make much sense to have windows on those walls because they are within about 4′ of the house next door. So we kept things light. But we wanted some interest as well. So that’s why we mixed in the white oak.

The floor is stained charcoal gray, the walls are painted a very light silvery-blue, the oak cabinetry has a gray stain with a white wash, and the majority of the cabinetry is white with a gray tint. It’s calming, a little bit contemporary, and is a great background for fun accessories.
We had a bunch of samples made and tested them with each other during different times of day. It takes time, but it’s worth the effort.

SZW: How were finishes chosen?
JS: This was a key to the project’s success. The white painted cabinetry is a high gloss finish – it reflects a lot of light from the west facing windows at the end of the adjoining family room. But the oak cabinetry and floor are as low luster as is possible. The wood almost looks raw and unfinished. The juxtaposition of the two looks fantastic!

The other thing that really added interest is the grain of the white oak cabinetry. It’s earthy and combines with the matte finish so well. The countertops are polished white Caesarstone, which adds more reflection to the space, another plus. The stainless appliances work so well for a few reasons: The silver tone harmonizes with our other color choices, the sheen level works great, and the sleek lines help our transitional design get a little more contemporary. Polished nickel was an absolute given for hardware and faucet .

SZW: Was there anything you or the client wanted to include in the kitchen, but couldn’t?
JS: No! We got it all in there!

SZW: What’s your favorite part of the kitchen?
JS: I would have to say the symmetry, and how all walls have an axis point. It feels balanced, and I think it’s a great way to organize space and decorative features.

SZW: What did you learn from this project that will help you most in future jobs?
JS: I learned further what a wonderful asset an informed and design-savvy client can be. She didn’t want to design the kitchen, she clearly respected my expertise; but she had so much to offer, and her ideas elevated the space into a realm that is way above great!

SZW: Tips for other designers?
JS: Listen to your client, never feel threatened by their ideas. You never know, they may have the one idea that makes the whole design sing!

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