The challenge: Bonni Kautz’s kitchen wasn’t working for her anymore. She’d built the house in Eagan to her specifications 20 years ago, but her tastes had changed. She wanted to make better use of her space and an updated look.
The designer and general contractor: Lynn Monson, owner/designer of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen and Monson Interior Design, St. Louis Park, 952-417-9999, dreamkitchenbath.com.
The starting point: “She walked into my showroom wanting a pretty contemporary look,” said Monson. Because Kautz had already identified some materials she wanted to use, Monson built the design around them.
Better layout: Kautz’s original kitchen layout had the sink in one corner and the stove in another, with the dishwasher next to the sink, set at an angle. “It’s a tremendous waste of space and not very ergonomic,” Monson said. Plus the window above the sink faced the house next door. “I live on a beautiful lot with a pond, but I looked into my neighbor’s yard,” Kautz said. Moving the window to the back wall allowed for a bigger window, more light and a much better view of the deck and pond. Squaring off the corners also created space for a bigger island with more work surface. The oven and microwave remained in the same place and new cabinets were built around them.
Sparkle and shine: For the cabinets, Kautz had fallen in love with Wired Mercury, a thermofoil laminate produced in Fergus Falls, Minn., by Northern Contours. “It looks like stainless steel with striations,” said Kautz. “I first saw samples in pale copper. When I saw silver, I just went nuts!”
Monson had samples in his showroom and experience with the material. “It’s an expensive look at an inexpensive price point,” he said. “The beauty of it is that if you do damage it, you can replace it and it looks perfect, unlike wood, which ages and changes over time.”
Kautz used the Wired Mercury on her lower cabinets and a textured melamine with a matte off-white finish, also from Northern Contours, for the upper cabinets. “It brings the eye up,” Monson said of the two-tone cabinets. Kautz also had her heart set on an engineered quartz countertop with chips of reflective mica embedded in it. “When the light hits it, it bounces,” Monson noted. And for her backsplash, Kautz wanted mosaic recycled glass tile in a bluish-purple hue that reflects light.
Light it up. With so many reflective finishes, Kautz needed new lighting to make them shimmer. New trims and better bulbs enhanced lighting that was already in place. Monson also added a drop-down soffit with two pendant lights over the island, and under-cabinet rope lighting, to make the glass tile backsplash pop, especially at night.
Flooring: Kautz was able to re-use her existing maple floors, with a few tweaks. “When we pulled up the old island, they had taken shortcuts,” Kautz said. A few extra planks were needed. “We cleaned it up and patched in the corners where we took out the angles,” Monson said. The refurbished floors stand out better in the new kitchen than they did in the original one. “Before, it was maple cabinets and floors, so it all blended together,” he said. “Now the wood floor is a warm, nice base” for the cooler reflective materials above it.
Three cooks: Kautz’s sister and her husband were moving in for an extended stay, which added another dimension to the planning. “They like to do team cooking,” said Monson, so he designed a kitchen where three cooks could work comfortably at the same time.
At the end of the project, the best compliment came from Kautz’s sister, Monson said. “She said, ‘It’s not only beautiful but the best-functioning kitchen I’ve ever worked in.”
The result: Kautz said she’s thrilled with her new kitchen and that she cooks and entertains more because she enjoys being in the space so much. “Before, it was, ‘I’ve got to load the dishwasher, then get out of there,’ ” she said.
Her friends like it, too. “People say, ‘I always thought contemporary was cold, but this isn’t.’ It’s contemporary but it doesn’t look sterile. And at night, it looks magnificent!”