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Cooking Up a Commercial Kitchen

Written by Renee Dustman
Imagery by Sandra Kicman

Everyone wants an open concept kitchen these days, but far fewer dream of an urban loft-style, commercial kitchen. After years of cooking and entertaining in a compartmentalized colonial, however, that is exactly what these homeowners wanted.
    They found potential in a townhouse located on East Avenue in Rochester, New York. The 9 to 14-foot ceilings and open floor plan created the lofty space they envisioned. The next step was to find someone who could help them redesign the existing kitchen to facilitate their shared passion for cooking.
    The interior designers they approached were skeptical, however. A loft-style, commercial kitchen in a residential home? The homeowners were repeatedly told it couldn’t be done. That is, until they met kitchen designer Heather L. Plano, from L A Johnson Company in Victor, New York, who said, “I can do that!”

Call on Form and Function
The essence of a commercial kitchen is its functionality. The main components – sink, stove, refrigerator, food preparation area, and storage – are positioned to promote maximum efficiency. Island-style, zone-style, and assembly line layouts are common, but the best design accommodates the cooks’ workflow.
    That is what the homeowners love most about their new kitchen. “I’m really drawn to the no frills, no nonsense, get the job done, clean it up approach,” one homeowner said.
    Plano guided the homeowners through the renovation, working with the industrial concept, but cleverly interjecting homey touches not ordinarily found in a commercial kitchen.
    “Heather would rein us in so we didn’t make the kitchen too industrial,” one homeowner said. “This is still your home,” she would remind them. Otherwise, one homeowner admits, “We probably would have gone overboard.”

Man Your Stations
The end result features a washing station with a corner stainless steel sink unit and all the amenities you would expect in a commercial kitchen, such as a pre-rinse faucet with a pot-filler spray nozzle. Floor-to-ceiling white subway tile (by Atlantic Tile) serves as a sensible backsplash.
    The stainless steel-laden cooking station is conveniently juxtaposed to the washing station, and demarcated by a wall of brick veneer. The effect is warming and adds a loft-style element.
    Instead of a stainless steel island commonly used in commercial kitchens, a java-stained cherry island creates a welcoming focal point; and a dark green, soapstone countertop provides plenty of space for food preparation. “Now,” one homeowner said,  “there’s space to
actually chop and do things at different stations, and not have to move things around. It makes it a much more enjoyable experience.”

Don’t Forget Storage
After years of perfecting their culinary skills, these foodies have accumulated an array of cooking equipment – all of which needs to be easily accessible. In a commercial kitchen, equipment is usually stored openly
on shelves and racks.
    Plano was amenable to that, in part, but knew the homeowners would benefit from additional cabinetry. “We didn’t give much thought to the cabinets at all,” one homeowner said. They were quite pleased with Plano’s decision to use both open stainless steel shelves and white cabinets with brushed steel accents.

Stay Grounded
You won’t see hardwood floors in conventional commercial kitchens, but the homeowners liked the existing maple floor in their new home. To update the look, the flooring was refinished with a darker stain (by Ray Case Flooring).
    The kitchen flows into separate lounge and dining areas, which offer clear views of the outdoor patio. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow plenty of natural light and create the illusion of more interior space.
    Together, Plano and these homeowners cooked up a loft-style commercial kitchen like no other, and disproved the theory that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. 

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