Award-winning design: How a Signal Mountain kitchen was transformed

Award-winning design: How a Signal Mountain kitchen was transformed

November 12th, 2011 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment

Hank Matheny of Haskell Interiors discusses the design process in the award-winning Signal Mountain kitchen he designed. The kitchen includes four varieties of tile, dark wood cabinets, marble, commercial grade appliances, a wet bar, office space and coffee machine built into the wall.

Photo by Alex Washburn /Times Free Press.

Leslie Goff dutifully answered her designer's 50 to 60 questions about what she wanted in the new kitchen in the Signal Mountain home she shares with her husband and three young children.

Then she added a two-page addendum.

"She's the only client I've ever had in 20 years" to be that specific, said Hank Matheny, owner and principal designer of Haskell Interiors of Cleveland, Tenn. "The challenge was matching the wish list to the area."

The resulting space not only satisfies the family, but the design recently was awarded first place for Best Transitional Kitchen in the 13th annual competition by Signature Kitchens & Baths magazine.

The kitchen is actually transitional in two ways. It fits the transitional style, a blending of modern and traditional design, and the room was created from the home's original garage.

The Goffs wanted a bigger, more functional kitchen, Matheny said. "They have three children and do a lot of entertaining," he said.

The entire project, created by architect Jay Caughman and contractor David Harris, yielded a new garage and a second-story guest apartment and transformed the former garage into the kitchen.

Matheny said the object was to blend Mrs. Goff's preference for a clean, modern, glamorous design with Mr. Goff's desire for a more earthy, rustic look.

He also sought to fulfill the items on her list such as professional appliances and surfaces that were easy to clean and maintain.

What resulted -- in the kitchen alone -- are dark cherry wood cabinets, neutral cream limestone countertops, stainless steel appliances, limestone porcelain tile floors, an oversized island, mosaic glass tile stove backsplash and range hood in rich, warm colors.

On one wall, floor to ceiling cabinets with pull-out drawers allow for the tidy storage of food, while armoire-type cabinets on the opposite wall with similar drawers permit the convenient storage of pots and pans.

In between is the island,

which has a countertop of rain forest granite.

"We were on a mission," Matheny said of the wide search for the granite. "We took more than a month looking for a different piece of stone. The minute we saw it, we knew that was it."

The piece, he said, has both a modern, abstract look -- it could be a wall hanging -- but also gives a warm, organic feel.

"It was the very last element," Matheny said. "It brings out the earthy, rustic colors of [the room]."

The island also incorporates a two-drawer dishwasher, a slide-out tray for dual garbage cans and a drawer microwave oven.

The below-surface microwave, Matheny said, "is the greatest thing in the world for a designer since the plasma TV."

Another design highlight is the custom designed copper range hood, which integrates a 100-plus-year-old wooden beam that once was part of what is now the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Business Development Center. A stainless steel surround ties the hood with the stove below and the other appliances.

"It's a piece of Chattanooga," said Sean Goff. "It's got a story."

Matheny's design also incorporates a butler's pantry, wet bar space, transitional area between kitchen and pantry, and a small home office.

Both the butler's pantry and wet bar feature tile designs different from that in the kitchen, the butler's pantry offering a rectangular crushed glass tile wall and the bar a backsplash of iridescent modular mosaic recycled glass tile in subtle, warm colors.

Two furniture-look, built-in cabinets of painted white oak with antique seeded glass in the pantry hold Mrs. Goff's collection of white dishes and offer a contrast to the dark cabinets in the kitchen, Matheny said. A built-in coffee maker in the transitional area, meanwhile, was one of Mr. Goff's must-haves, he said. "You can be your own barista," he said.

The home office, off one corner of the kitchen and transformed from "a nasty, greasy [garage] closet," offers a fourth different style of mosaic tile, limestone countertops, a pair of mossy green cabinets with an antique glaze and antique knobs, and cabinets that store cookbooks and office supplies.

Doorway arches tie in each space and complete one of Matheny's design theories.

"I'm always thinking of the long view," he said. "I've always felt at every turn there should be something beautiful to look at. There are a lot of nice views here."

Matheny said the kitchen he designed was not for show but for "a woman who passionately loves to cook" and "wants to use every square inch."

Mr. Goff agreed.

"The whole key was a real working kitchen," he said. "My wife is a fabulous cook, and we wanted to get the most out of it. It really turned out well."