Designer Shamika Lynch has the unique skill of translating what a client says into what they really mean. Case in point? This Jersey City kitchen renovation. “All of the reference images that the client showed me for this project were of much larger kitchens with all white everything,” Shamika recalls. “I have nothing against white kitchens, but from talking with my client, I knew that what she liked about the kitchens was how they felt, not necessarily how they looked.” The client, a new mom who loves to entertain and host extended family, liked that the kitchens were neutral, bright, and airy—and felt larger than they actually were. “I knew that I could recreate that feeling outside of her comfort zone of all white everything and I knew that the feeling of the home needed warmth. I made sure that all of the elements I selected evoked warmth and worked together to achieve the client’s vision.”
The house was built in 1895 in the heart of the Jersey City Heights neighborhood. Like many homes in the area, the architecture of was influenced greatly by its Dutch roots. Shamika took a modern approach to this design concept focusing on minimalism, function, and simplicity with nods to traditional silhouettes. The kitchen required a full gut renovation…and then some. “Not only did we completely gut the kitchen, but we also removed an entire supporting wall and replaced it with a steel beam to open the space up,” the designer tells us. “As much as I love natural light, the two windows in the kitchen were impeding function, so we made the difficult choice to eliminate a window for maximum storage. We compensated for removing a window by making the only existing window larger.” They also added a reflective Zellige tile and glossy countertop to help the light move through the space.
To further maximize the space, they extended the kitchen further into the hallway. “Our contractor, Eric Smith of HANE Custom, built a cabinet on site to go above the refrigerator and connect to the rest of the kitchen. To soften the harsh angles in the space and complement the traditional origins of the home, we added arches to the beam to create a soft, picturesque archway,” Shamika explains. To keep things from feeling vacuous, a light Hickory cabinet adds warmth. Positioning the sink towards the back window allowed for a larger 32” workstation sink, and a microwave drawer is hidden in the center island, allowing for even more counter space.
The kitchen is what the client hoped for and more. “They stressed many times throughout the design of this project that the kitchen needed to function well for them. They needed a space where they could house the wealth of groceries they needed to host dinner parties and a kitchen that would allow them to chat with guests while they cooked,” Shamika says. While the layout of their previous kitchen just did not support their needs, this one certainly does.