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June 18, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, June 18, 2004

Delayed gratification Delayed gratification (June 18, 2004)

Los Altos couple finally remodels their kitchen

By Susan Golovin

The Los Altos couple knew that their Nixon-era kitchen needed remodeling, but were loathe to undertake the project. "We heard a lot of horror stories," the wife said.

"But, even though we had adapted to the idiosyncrasies of our appliances -- like the stove that was 20 degrees lower than it indicated -- we realized that they were self-destructing. Finally, when we had to face replacing a dishwasher rack for $150 for a decrepit dishwasher, we decided to get going."

The couple spent a year with a designer, and then put the plans out to bid. "That's when we discovered all the details we hadn't decided on. We learned a lot in the bidding process by the questions they asked," she said.

At that point they were referred to Cupertino Kitchen Design by a friend. Because their model kitchens generated real excitement, the couple decided to have them adapt their first design.

The footprint of the old kitchen remained, but the entire space was gutted.

The most striking aspects of the new kitchen are the natural cherry cabinets and drawers from Cottonwood Cabinets, crafted by carpenter Carlos Molina.

"My husband works with wood, and the details were really important to him. The grains fit together, the drawers slide easily and the hinges on the cabinets are great," the wife said.

"I've never been enthralled by shiny granite. It's too cold and glassy," she added. Instead, they chose a honed, black granite for the counter, which provides a softer appearance. This is also the surface for the desk top and island, with its built-in stainless-steel sink. The island is accented by stainless-steel posts, supporting a sand-blasted, elevated, glass counter that faces the family area.

"My husband wanted an infrared broiler," the wife said. Thus, they decided on a Dacor gas, stainless-steel stove with six burners. The broiler necessitates a very loud overhead fan, which is a source of amusement rather than irritation. The Bosch dishwasher is quiet -- and positioned directly across from the dish storage drawer, making for easy unloading.

A second stove -- a Dacor oven/convection oven/microwave -- appears small but is big enough for a turkey.

"There's a learning curve with every new appliance," the husband said. "This one does what it's supposed to do." They decided on the Dacor warming drawer because it has an automatic turn-off.

Of great convenience are the customized Lazy Susans inside the cabinets. The drawers are also customized -- for knives and silverware, spices, even for recycling.

The couple chose the slate from the stone yard in San Francisco, which was then cut into 6" x 6" pieces on site and assembled to their specifications for the buffet as well as for the backsplash wall.

A decorative rectangle of sandblasted glass tiles, arranged in a diamond pattern and surrounded by stainless steel, enhances the wall behind the double, stainless-steel Franke sink. Hans Grohe stainless-steel fixtures are used throughout.

Typical of the attention to detail, the pull-out faucet has a cloth neck, which the husband prefers because it eliminates "clanging." The air gap covers were ordered on the Internet.

"I wanted ones that were heavy, not flimsy," he said. He also located plastic-coated metal racks on the Internet. These sit in the sinks, protecting them from scratches from heavy pots.

The floor is natural maple with golden tones. "I originally wanted oak, but the designer advised that this would better complement the cherry cabinets," the wife said.

"We knew we had to do something about the gloom level," her husband added. A large bay window provides views to the north. In addition, a three-tiered "wedding cake" skylight covers the entire work area.

"Notice that there are three different shades of yellow for each of the tiers," the wife pointed out.

One thing remains intact from the old kitchen: a small, kitschy sculpture of a fork, wrapped in pasta, which flows down into a plate of same.

"One of our kids' friends asked us if we still had the spaghetti in the new kitchen," the wife said.

Resources: Architect/Contractor: Cupertino Kitchen Design (Designers Shirley Shaw and Esin Karliova), (408) 257-4900, Cupertinokitchendesign.com


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