A key component to getting the most out of your remodel is the use of space. Matt Mierek, owner of Aptitude Design & Build, has learned a number of powerful tricks over the years that maximize space and build visual interest.
Mierek talks background, materials, hurdles and client response to a kitchen remodel of a home in Chesterfield, MO to shed light on how the process works. If you’re thinking about a remodel, keep reading.
Tell us a bit about the background of this project.
For this one, they had this beautiful house, but the kitchen didn’t match the rest of the house whatsoever. There were cheap, contractor-grade laminate countertops and a small square island sitting right in the middle of the kitchen. We took all of that out, then designed the kitchen around a new island. They wanted an island, but didn’t want it to take up a bunch of space in the center of the room. So we created an L-shaped island with an L-shaped wall on the backside, and then put a quarter-circle granite countertop on the island, where people can eat and hang out—but it’s not at the same level of your food-prep surface. You gain more room when you’re smart about how the space is structured. Doing the circular edge of the island, for example, doesn’t protrude out into the kitchen, and on a curve you can sit more people than with a straight countertop.
What were some hurdles you ran into, and how did you navigate around them?
In the early stages of the project, the homeowners told us they did a lot of entertaining but wanted to be a part of the group while cooking. So, we moved the wall oven to the other side of the kitchen, laid into a stacked stone wall we put up and relocated the refrigerator next to the sink, for a better use of space. They used to have a cooktop in their main cabinetry next to the sink, and we moved that to the island instead. So when they’re entertaining and using the cooktop, they face out into the kitchen instead of looking into a wall. That way it’s not so isolating, and they can be part of the conversation while cooking. We also added a wine fridge in the island where they can keep their nice wine when they have company over.
What kind of building materials did you use to achieve this look?
All the countertops are granite from Portugal. The homeowners wanted something a little funky, with a lot of different patterns in it. It’s a pretty rare and expensive granite, with greens and browns and greys—and it has quartz in it, too, so it sparkles when light hits it. It’s visually interesting and it pops, but isn’t overbearing. The backsplash is all glass tile.
What’s your favorite design feature?
I really love how the island turned out. There was a lot of thought involved in figuring out how to make it work with the number of people they wanted it to be able to seat. That was one of the more time-consuming aspects of it—that, and relocating appliances. You’re starting from scratch in terms of trying to figure out what people like and what they want.
They love it. We really did a lot of work here. And now the space looks quite a bit different from the rest of the house in a more updated way, which is what they wanted. Their favorite thing is that stacked stone oven wall and the way the island turned out.