Jeff and Lisa Martin knew they couldn’t cram three teenage boys and two dogs in their small home forever. Their “quaint” house in Buckhead, Alabama, was crippled by a tiny, far from family-friendly kitchen and positively crumbled under the athletic family’s busy lifestyle.
“Lisa doesn’t like to be overbearing with her boys,” explains Beth Webb, the designer the family hired to work alongside award-winning architect Peter Block to build their new, larger home. But since the boys really beat up that house, Beth knew that the Martins’ new home didn’t just have to be larger; it had to be stronger.
So Beth set her goal for the house that would become “Buckhead Manor”: craft a family-friendly kitchen space with durable, sustainable materials.
How to Craft a Family-Friendly Kitchen
Once the Martins told Beth and Peter their wants and needs, Peter got to work “drawing the kitchen to make sure it was as ergonomically correct as possible,” Beth says. To enable the boys and dogs to run from room to room, Peter joined the kitchen via open doorways to the living room, pantry and office. The kitchen also connects to the property’s extensive outdoor space via a hall to the mudroom and the adjacent outdoor kitchen.
With all of this foot and paw traffic in mind, Beth chose materials with neutral tones and warm textures that would meet Lisa’s request for a monochromatic palette while making the space inviting and durable. For a worn look, she paired plaster walls with horizontal wood panels that only look like antique barn wood.
“The ceiling beams and wooden boards are both an inexpensive pine,” Beth admits, “but we made them look like a million and a half bucks by using a custom finish by San Marco,” a company affiliated with ROMA Eco-Sustainable Building Technologies that uses natural mineral paints, plasters and finishes to achieve an Old-World look with minimal environmental impact. “All we did was butt-join very simple, rough-cut boards and add their multi-layered finish, which did add labor cost but not material cost,” Beth explains. And the vintage-look boards will withstand the kitchen’s changing atmosphere and the Martins’ busy brood more effectively than reclaimed wood.
Even for this workhorse kitchen, Beth did choose one material for its beauty alone: the island countertop, a single slab of Piazzo marble. “The beauty of this particular marble,” Beth says, “is its many hues: aubergine, taupe, gray and caramel all undulating through its veins. The marble countertop pulls the wood, exposed beams, plaster and cabinets together.”
Written by Elaine K. Phillips
Photography by Erica George Dines