The challenge: When designing a new home in White Bear Lake, St. Paul-based NewStudio Architecture was charged with integrating a coffee bar into the kitchen for their java connoisseur clients. The design had to be practical and clutter-free, while accommodating the household's wide range of coffee preferences — from a husband who preferred cappuccinos and ice-brewed to a wife who favored espressos and drip.
"The owners like all of the accessories that go along with having their own cafe in their house, but they don't necessarily want their house looking like a Starbucks or full-on coffee shop," said Sean Wagner, president/CEO of NewStudio Architecture. "It was a desire to have an organized, clean, modern kitchen interior but have the ability to create that coffee bar experience in their house."
Sign of the times: The White Bear Lake abode isn't the only home for which NewStudio Architecture has created a coffee station. Wagner said there have been four or five such coffee-flavored requests when his company was doing a remodel or new construction.
"It was starting to happen before [the pandemic]," he said. "People want that coffee experience but they don't want to get in their car and wait in a drive-through or wait in line. Then with COVID, people were looking for more opportunities to create those self-care experiences in their homes."
The team: Designers Lindsay Matenaer and Coco Dugan Early, architect Sean Wagner; Guidinger Construction/General Contractor Dan Guidinger; custom millwork, Rust Brothers.
The solution: Custom cabinets were designed to conceal the coffee station, which is perched between the beverage bar and refrigerator. A hidden cabinet with a flip-up door was created to hide the station with coffee systems that included Cuisinart, Baratza and AreoPress.
To keep the space clutter-free, electrical and plumbing was installed along the wall inside the hidden cabinet. For ease of use, a large slide-out counter was built into one of the shelves.
"It allows you to use everything, pulling it out onto the space so you can fill the carafes and make your coffee and then tuck it back when you're done," Wagner said. "You can close the door and all of your appliances are out of sight, out of mind."
Shelves for storing coffee mugs and glasses and drawers to hold coffee, tea and accessories helped make for a clean look.
The reward: While Wagner employed the old adage "A place for everything and everything in its place," the design for the coffee station is nothing short of contemporary.
"If you create a proper area and anticipate the storage, the equipment and needs, you're able to develop a solution that's very functional, very utilitarian," he said. "But at the same time, it is deliberately designed to support and conceal, so you're able to do several coffee accessories, even different things to make teas, in a modernist aesthetic," he said.
"The design was important because what happens in the morning usually sets the tone for the day."
Everyday Solutions showcases projects by members of the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects that solve a homeowner's everyday design challenge.