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Prairie Art

Regional Award Winner KDC 2008-09

Functional artwork inspired by Prairie-style architecture gives this Pennsylvania kitchen a special glow.

Architect Paul Whitehead designed this new Prairie-style home in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania that's as serene as the quiet lakeshore it was built on. The homeowners—a personal trainer and an executive who enjoys classic cars—are both sports enthusiasts who enjoy entertaining family, friends and business associates, and cooking with a focus on fresh foods. The kitchen's function was so important to them that they selected kitchen design specialists Tom Trzcinski and Emily Fike of Kitchen + Bath Concepts of Pittsburgh, to create the room's layout and ensure that it blended aesthetically with the rest of the home. The hallway to the formal dining room has a lower ceiling than the rooms it leads to. "This is a Frank Lloyd Wright technique," says Trzcinski. "Lower ceilings in one area make grander entrances to a room when coming through that space."

Good flow was achieved with a buffet positioned on the back of the island that adjoins the family room. A pass through with pocket doors can close when caterers come, and an informal bar area with its own refrigerator and icemaker drawers keep the bartender near guests and out of the cooks' way. If something is needed from the kitchen, there is easy access to the Sub-Zero refrigerator. Clad in an armoire comprised of three wood species and an organic branch-shaped handle, it is a work of art in its own right. "The homeowners who are very health-conscious, selected Sub-Zero for its preservation capabilities, as much or more as they did for its design integration abilities," says Trzcinski.

The cabinetry design was inspired by classic Stickley patterning and coppery flecks in the black granite countertops echo their honey-finished mahogany. The exhaust hood is disguised as an arts and crafts style arch, and a unique backlit backsplash of green rippled glass injects a soothing breath of coolness into the warm, earth-toned space.

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