Center Stage

It’s common knowledge that the kitchen is the center of the home. At any gathering you’ll always find folks milling about there — happily crammed together, leaning on counters and basking in the sense of companionship and camaraderie engendered by the preparing and consuming of delicious edibles. Rick and Lori Latta are well aware of this, so when they set out to plan the kitchen of their new home in Carriage Park, just outside Hendersonville, they were set on doing it right.

The Lattas are hands-on homeowners, and no strangers to the joys and challenges of creating a custom kitchen, having gone through the process with their former home near Chicago. Rick, a graphics professional, had laid out the overall plans for their new residence in Western North Carolina and, with the input of a friend who is a structural engineer, worked directly with John Dill and the team at Brantley Builders on the construction.

“From the beginning, the kitchen was the main focus,” says Rick. “We designed the house around it.”  It’s not surprising. The Lattas love to cook. Italian is their specialty — that most gregarious of cuisines. Likewise, their kitchen was to be open, welcoming and layered with flavorful ingredients…simply delicious.

It was Lori who came up with the recipe. “I specified the space,” says Rick, “but Lori did all the interior design.”  That space was a great starting point — open to the living room and in direct line with floor-to-ceiling windows that punctuate a cathedral ceiling. Definitely the place of honor.

“I knew that we wanted a rustic touch without it being too ‘country’…offset with some contemporary elements,” notes Lori. “And texture…texture is very important to us. I like to use varied materials and surfaces that work well together.”  Experience had taught her that partnership with skilled professionals is key to realizing a vision, so the Lattas enlisted the talents of kitchen designer Brodie Smith, and installation wizard Kevin Smith, both of Packard Cabinetry in Hendersonville.

“Lori came to us with a lot of great ideas,” Kevin recalls, “but it really was a collaborative effort. We had the blueprints — we knew what the space was. Brodie started the design and it evolved from there.” From the beginning, Lori felt that a varied cabinet treatment, integrating both solid panel and bead-board facings was key to her aesthetic.

Once the layout was conceived, Packard’s artisans handcrafted the custom cherry wood cabinets in their Charlotte workshop. Accented by an ebony glaze, the staggered heights and six-inch, two-piece crown moldings of the cabinets invoke the sensibility of fine furniture. “The workmanship and the joining is absolutely meticulous,” Rick observes. Brodie’s design keeps the workspace tidy with copious storage; deep, soft-close pot drawers (capacious enough to house the Latta’s favorite pasta pot), dedicated tray racks and appliance garages.

Two major elements anchor the design: the wrap-around breakfast bar that visually defines the space and an ebony-hued, hearth-like cook top and vent area with Mission style corbels that draws the eye in. These features are subtly tied together by the use of stone tile from Horizon Tile — the breakfast bar is faced with random patterned, narrow limestone slate tiles of varied depths and the backsplash of the stove features a shallow, LED lighted niche of similarly sized rectangular tiles, inset against tumbled marble tiles that were overstock from the Latta’s Chicago kitchen project. Porcelain floor tile in a variegated finish that mimics granite provides a counterpoint to the reclaimed wood flooring in the rest of the residence.

The centerpiece of the workspace is the island, which again incorporates elements of furniture — inset shelving and graceful, turned column legs at the corners. The granite top from Viktor’s Granite and Marble features a demi-bullnose lip and elegant sculpted arrowhead details…a deft contrast with leathered granite countertops and breakfast bar, which are finished with a rough, chiseled edges.

For that contemporary sparkle that she so desired, Lori chose brushed stainless appliances from Haywood Appliance, gleaming minimalist Top Knob hardware, sleek Moen faucets and industrial style pendant fixtures by Hudson Valley from Christie’s Lighting.

So many elements — yet they work together effortlessly to create the functional, fun, totally individual kitchen that the couple desired. The style is absolutely the Latta’s own — completely personal and right on point. “This kitchen turned out 100 percent to my vision,” says Lori. What could be more delicious?

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