“Sizzling Kitchens That Delight & Impress” – North Carolina Design Interview
Kitchens are complex spaces – part functional workhorse, part intimate gathering space, and part consummate showpiece. It takes an expert hand to balance these different components, and ensure that a client truly gets the kitchen of their dreams. Whether they are designing and building a dream home or renovating and existing one, the team at Will Johnson Building Company in Chapel Hill is known for creating kitchens that delight and impress on every level. Their success lies in their thorough, multi-layered process, which the firm’s in house designer, Rebecca Johnson, was kind enough to share with North Carolina Design. Rebecca also revealed to us some of the wow factors that make today’s kitchens a dream come true.
Will Johnson Building Company provides clients with as much or as little help as they need. They can bring in their own designer or architect, or they can have Will Johnson’s adept in-house professionals handle every aspect of the project, from the planning stage to the final interior design details. “We start out with a rough design, which we continuously finesse,” Rebecca explains. “We first assess the kitchen space. We consider the footprint, the general needs of the clients, and the design work that the project will entail.”
“Once we have an idea of the work that needs to be done, we make a general assessment of a time frame and costs, and we draft plans. Next, we create the initial cabinet drawings, which we will massage until they fit all of the specific needs of the homeowners. Then, we move on to the selections. We shepherd the client through the often stressful process of choosing every element that will go into their kitchen.”
To accomplish this, Rebecca notes that it’s essential to completely understand the client’s needs. “It really comes down to the details,” she says. “Our clients send us pictures and Pinterest boards of what they like, and we try to work their ideas into a design that’s tailored for them. Form always follows function, especially in a kitchen, which is a very functional space. So, we have to know – who uses this kitchen, and how?”
Questions abound in this process for Rebecca. “What size refrigerator are we working with? Will we need an icemaker? A secondary sink? Where’s a good place to store spices and cooking oils? Where is the most convenient place to store plates? These elements are what really drive the design. Finding ways to give the clients the aesthetic they want within the parameters of their needs forces us to be creative and come up with really great, innovative ideas. We really are the string that threads through all of these different components and ties them together.”
So what interesting kinds of components are homeowners looking for in their kitchens today? “People want to get the most out of their kitchen space,” Rebecca tells us. “They want large islands, with a single level, so that there’s easier access and a more streamlined workspace. They want to utilize all the space on the island, so they want storage on the back for things like cookie cutters or Christmas dishes or cookbooks – items they need but don’t want cluttering their main kitchen spaces.
“Homeowners are favoring quartzite for countertops, because it has the luxurious look of marble, but it’s easier to clean. They want a more natural, neutral look that incorporates natural stone, copper or wood hoods, and warm white or gray colors. They want multi-functional sinks to optimize counter space, and paneled fridges, and paneled dishwashers because they are completely integrated into the design, and they are easier to clean.
Rebecca notes that, overall, people are becoming less “matchy-matchy,” and more focused on how everything flows together. “It’s a great thing, because the flow of the space is always very important to us,” she concedes. “We always use architectural details to help connect the kitchen with the rest of the house. And we always work hard to find ways to work even the most unique requests seamlessly into the design. Everything ought to look and feel like it belongs. That’s what makes a space comfortable, and livable, and beautiful.”