A note from our editors: 

It’s time for one of our favorite traditions! Each year, we spend the holidays reflecting on the stories and articles you loved most. It’s the “Best of Rue” and this is one of 2020’s top stories. Enjoy!

Previously published on October 26, 2020:

We often hear of designers wanting to blend the barrier between the outdoors and indoors of a home, usually through the use of natural materials. However, this kitchen remodel for a couple living in Redmond, Washington takes it to a whole other level. When homeowners, Marcee Williams and Rodrigo Gonzalez wanted to update their kitchen – although functional, it didn’t match the style of the rest of the home – they were inspired by the spaces of Provence and Argentina where the integration of the interior with the exterior landscape is seamless. Their home, with scenic Pacific Northwest views, offered the perfect opportunity to operate in the same way, so they hired Tamar Kestenbaum of Sienna & Sage Interior Design to create their dream kitchen.

“The home at large embraces an open, light and airy style, while the previous kitchen was dark, enclosed, and quite weighted,” Tamar explained. “Adding windows along nearly the full run of countertop achieves a striking openness and brightness throughout the space, elevating the feel of the entire entry, great room, and kitchen areas.” These black frame windows bring in spectacular views of the outdoor forest into the home, incorporating the landscape into its design as well as offering an ever-changing focal point to a key part of the home.

Although these views were a crucial part of the kitchen’s redesign, they also affected the rest of the space’s aesthetic. “Adding a tremendous amount of natural light in the space would inevitably change the way that color would be perceived,” she said, “So we needed to be very thoughtful about color and do our best to anticipate how it would read over the course of the changing light throughout the day, and with the changing outdoor scenery throughout the seasons.”

The selection of materials and finishes, then, relied heavily on their relation to nature. Light gray solid wood cabinetry offered a neutral backdrop for the views to take primary focus. Tamar chose soapstone countertops and wood detailing, such as the wood wrapped hood to replicate the tonalities found outdoors.

After the foundation decisions were made, Tamar brought her design expertise in providing the smaller yet highly impactful details that elevated the kitchen’s overall aesthetic and function. “We were faced with the challenge of strategically placing the required number of outlets throughout the kitchen,” she told us. “Eliminating upper cabinets robbed us of clever options for hiding these outlets, and the number of windows made it difficult to find subtle spaces for squeezing them in. Ultimately, they were placed on the countertop, a combination of dark covers camouflaging with the soapstone, and some strategically placed styling eliminate them from view and prevent them from being noticeable.” Furthermore, she commissioned customized light fixtures from Urban Electric, as well as selected polished nickel plumbing and hardware for a classic and elegant touch.

A kitchen’s success depends heavily on the right configuration and design, which is why, such as is the case in this space, it can take a few months to plan before beginning its construction. The homeowners, though, after the nine months that it took start-to-finish, were thrilled with their new cooking space. “Now that we’ve used it for a while, it really is perfect and exactly what we wanted,” Marcee and Rodrigo shared. “The stone is gorgeous and all the details are perfect. And how did we live without that coffee bar before?”