Check out the picture of the sleek, white kitchen with black granite counters, soaring ceiling and hardwood floors. You can see it at www.bestinamericanlivingawards.com.
Is this the best new room in the country? The ultimate, in the whole U.S. Of A?
The judges for the Best in American Living Awards think so.
It’s the kitchen in the new chancellor’s residence at N.C. State University in Raleigh. The kitchen was named “Room of the Year” in the prestigious contest hosted by the National Association of Home Builders. Winners are announced at the International Builders Show, the builders’ annual convention. The kitchen and other honorees were recognized at the show in Las Vegas in January.
The house and kitchen were designed to accommodate the chancellor’s family and the large crowds that the campus leader often hosts. Groups range from students to the Board of Trustees to VIP donors with deep pockets. That’s a lot to ask of a kitchen, but the judges agreed that the room is up to the task.
Also, that it’s stunning.
The house was designed by Marvin Malecha, dean of the School of Design, with interiors by Judy Pickett and her colleagues at Design Lines Ltd. of Raleigh. It was built by Rufty Homes.
While the kitchen is huge, Malecha said, the space doesn’t overwhelm. There’s a large island that can be used as a buffet for crowds, but also an intimate eating nook for the family. “The scale is broken down by using these elements,” he said.
That’s one lesson for the rest of us: Divide large spaces into friendlier areas.
The tall cathedral ceiling helps keep the kitchen from feeling cramped, even when guests are shoulder to shoulder. Windows allow light to spill in from all four points of the compass. “No matter what time of day, you’re getting a flood of light,” he said. That also helps make the kitchen comfortable for groups of all sizes.
Interior designer Pickett said she chose colors and finishes that would be timeless.
Cabinets are white, with glass fronts. Countertops are black granite. Hardware is classic chrome. “I wanted everything to have a familiar feel to it,” she said.
Floors in the kitchen, and throughout much of the house, are dark oak. The hardwood came from N.C. State’s research forests, she said. The building team worked hard to use sustainable materials from in-state sources.
Lighting is crucial in such a large space. Two glass globe pendants hang above the island. There’s lighting under the cabinets and inside the cabinets. “At night, it’s perfect,” Pickett said.
The 8,000-square-foot house was built with private donations at a cost of about $3.5 million. As such projects always seem to do, this one caused some public squabbling. Plans were tweaked along the way.
But the goal was to provide a symbolic home for the hundreds of thousands of graduates and supporters who’re members of the “N.C. State family,” and the award says the design and construction team got the heart of the home just right.
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