Kitchen of the Week: Industrial Style Warmed Up
A clever coffee bar and pantry, salvaged wood, and open shelves combine in a factory-inspired kitchen
Photos by Brittany Fecteau
Kitchen at a Glance
Who uses it: A surgeon, her 9-year-old daughter and their cat
Location: Windham, New Hampshire
Size: 280 square feet (26 square meters)
Designer: Heather Alton of New England Design Elements
The owner of this house had a clear vision of the unfussy industrial style she wanted in her kitchen, where she planned to spend lots of time with her 9-year old daughter and friends.
“She did not care one bit about what was expected or what anyone would think of her design, which made it especially fun to work with her,” says interior designer Heather Alton.
Before: The ceiling beam marked the edge of the kitchen, which was cut off from the entry by a half wall that extended awkwardly above the countertop. No one used the coat closet behind the double doors. “This is a main entrance to the house, but everyone uses another prominent entrance by the garage, so that is where all of the coats go,” Alton says. “When I opened this closet, it was empty.”
Adding the metal drum pendant was one of the few things the homeowner had done to make the space feel the way she wanted it to. It provided Alton with some insight to her style.
After: Alton took the existing kitchen down to the studs, improved the overall flow and created a space that works well with the adjacent dining room. She used a mix of reclaimed wood, concrete-look floor tile, metal accents and open shelves hung by turnbuckles and cables to create a style reminiscent of a factory or warehouse while maintaining a warm and inviting vibe.
Now that the awkward half wall is gone, there is an open flow between the kitchen and the entry door.
Former Coat Closet Is a Big Perk
Alton turned the empty coat closet into a charming coffee, breakfast and cocktail bar. There is ample space on the quartz countertop for the coffee maker and the toaster, and a wine fridge fits below. The area is organized, well-lit and attractive.
A pantry behind the sliding barn door holds a microwave and a charging station.
“My client is no-fuss and did not want the countertops in the main part of the kitchen cluttered up with small appliances,” Alton says. She drew up the layout for the shelf space of the bar and pantry while looking at her client’s small appliances.
The large door slides on a barn-door track. Alton had it made on-site to fit the space, finding the wood on Craigslist “from a salvager down by the river,” she says. Luckily, “I’m going to check out some beat-up wood from a guy I met on Craigslist down by the river” were not her last words, and Alton returned home with a pile of gorgeous salvaged lumber to use on the project.
She was hands-on with some of the customization, giving the diamond-shaped clear glass window an antique-mirror look using mirror spray paint, blue spray paint and black Rub ’n Buff. Cast-iron plumbing pipe serves as a heavy-duty door pull and towel bar.
The oversize subway tiles recall the shape and size of industrial concrete blocks, but their nice white finish makes them more kitchen-friendly.
The large-scale tiles also cut down on the visual clutter, Alton says. “Scale was important,” she says. “Because of the vastness of the room and the ceiling height, smaller tiles would have felt too busy and competed with other elements in the room too much.”
A poplar shelf with hooks underneath provides space for coffee mugs and teacups. This shelf matches the open shelves in the main kitchen.
L-Shaped Layout With a Large Island
The main kitchen is L-shaped with a traditional work triangle from sink to range to fridge and a large island that provides work and social space. Alton used reclaimed lumber from the same source as the door for the ends of the cabinet runs and the island.
For the floor, Alton chose large porcelain tiles digitally printed to look like concrete. “The tile color is through-body,” she says, meaning the color goes through the entire tile and isn’t just applied to the surface. “It’s so good, you cannot tell it’s digitally printed.”
Floor tile: Eleganza Tiles; wall sconce: Troy Lighting; Luna six-light bronze-and-gold chandelier: Crystorama
After: Now the range is integrated into the wall and includes an attention-grabbing copper-colored vent hood.
Alton found a way to tie the existing storage into the new kitchen design by placing the fridge where its surround could meet the built-ins, and then painting everything in a matching charcoal.
A Clever Budget-Saving Hood Plan
“A copper hood was on my client’s wish list, but it was a $10,000 expense,” Alton says. “When she said she wanted to settle on a $2,000 stainless steel one, I said, ‘Not on my watch!’” Alton, who knew her copper hood-loving client, believed that she would be disappointed if she took that route. When Alton spied glass copper tiles in her showroom, she knew she had a solution.
“This glass tile looked exactly like copper,” she says. “So we built a structure to put around the vent, tiled it with them, overlaid the metal straps and adorned them with acorn nuts that we also used elsewhere in the kitchen.” The custom vent hood cost about $3,000. It now serves as a stunning focal point and adds much to the kitchen’s warm feeling.
Tile: Alchemy Copper, Soho Studio; browse glass tile
The color of the island’s hardened leather counter stools picks up on the coppery tones of the vent hood. Their gold bases add another warm metallic finish. And if you look closely at the light fixtures, you’ll see glints of gold inside.
Stools: Blue Ocean Traders
An Island for Work and Play
The social side of the island is clearly delineated — its surface is fir flooring blocks that Alton composed into a counter on-site. The edges are wood painted black and ornamented with oversize industrial tacks. This brought metal up to the island’s surface.
Fir blocks: Kaswell Flooring Systems
The stainless steel hardware, sink and faucet have no-fuss, commercial-kitchen industrial style and provide contrast to the warm metals of the lighting and vent hood. They also help the stainless steel appliances blend into the kitchen.
Open Shelves With Minimal Fuss
“Because my client is very no-fuss, she was not sure about these shelves at first,” Alton says. “But this wall really needed something, and they keep the view out the window open.”
Now the owner and her daughter have a wonderful place to bake, hang out together and entertain their friends.
- Take time to find a designer who understands your vision.
- If you like clutter-free countertops, make plans for small appliance storage early on in the design process.
- Consider the scale when covering a large wall with tile; smaller tiles mean more grout lines and a busier look.
- Look for through-body color when shopping for digitally printed tile.
- Remember: It’s possible to get porcelain floor tile that people will swear is concrete.
- File away the photo of the vent hood with a note that says, “These are glass tiles!”