Sometimes You Can Stick Your Tongue Out at Danger, Other Times…

As Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida, I can’t stop thinking about a couple of my favorite clients and their home on Marco Island. Category 5 is a hefty breeze. Be safe Jeff and Marsha!

Undoubtedly, we’ll soon hear stories of surfers taking advantage of the gnarly waves, which reminds me of a quote by THAT guy:

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity,
and I’m not sure about the former. 

Albert Einstein

A Refined Kitchen Designed with Unrefined Materials? Yep.

Two wrongs may not make a right, but often the unrefined makes the refined. Take this kitchen, for example. The floor and eating bar are exposed concrete while bolted steel carries heavy timbers and crowns the cabinets. The countertop backsplash is a raw steel channel, in contrast with the shiny, granite countertops and finely crafted mahogany cabinets.

Something special is created from the juxtaposition of common and fine materials. By way of contrast, the unrefined materials make the refined materials appear even more so.

heavy-timber-mountain-lodge-kitchen-by-tim-bjella-of-arteriors-architects-1
I love this massive center island support. You could drive a truck over it. I don’t know if it will stand up to kids, though…

Resurrecting an (almost) Dead Kitchen

Modern Minneapolis Kitchen - Before After by Arteriors Architects

Here’s a sneak peak of a modern kitchen I am hoping to revive in Minneapolis. The home is a fifties rambler. While the existing, white kitchen has not quite flatlined, it’s close, and I intend to defibrillate it. Here’s how (stand back):

  1. Open up the kitchen to the dining room
  2. Reconfigure the generous formal dining room to include a small family room.
  3. Remove the wall between the dining room and living room. Construct a visual screen in its place to retain privacy and create interest.
  4. Lower the scale of the vaulted space to a more comfortable human dimension by adding a horizontal soffit and wall that give the occupants a visual clue to the true height (a datum).
  5. Add color and texture to surfaces as a relief to the bland sheetrock walls.
  6. Add a skylight in the kitchen.
  7. Accentuate the horizontality of the space to make it feel larger.
  8. Provide interest with layering and transparency.

Stay tuned. The next step is mouth to mouth (aka, refine the design).

Kitchen Plan - Proposed

Kitchen Plan - Existing

If Batman had a Range Hood, This Would be It

Does the Batcave have a kitchen? If you are reading this, Bruce, call me. I designed a badass custom range hood. For you, I’ll even paint it black.

Of course, I didn’t design it with the Batman in mind (well not consciously, anyway). That’s the funny thing about design, you give it some top and bottom constraints, and then it just sort of meanders around as it wants.

Modern Vent Hood for Kitchen by Arteriors Architects

Modern Zen Kitchen Design in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Zen Kitchen
A loft designed for a couple moving from the suburbs to the city, wishing to embrace the change of location as well as lifestyle.

The owners of this loft desired a contemporary, yet warm and welcoming, subtle Asian aesthetic. To this end I employed a series of yin yang contrasts: dark vs. light materials, textured vs. smooth, horizontal vs. vertical elements.

The couple spends the winter in warmer climates, but wanted the design to subtly remind them of the winters they were missing when they were home for the summer. The cabinetry was designed to abstractly recall the leafless tree branches prevalent in a Minnesota winter. To achieve this, the cabinetry doors were stained dark grey. A branch pattern was then routed into their surfaces. Finally they were overlayed with a layer of sandblasted, black glass.

The materials are natural, quartered white oak cabinetry, sustainable warm-toned bamboo flooring, black slate and glass tile, black granite countertops and stainless steel. See the video interview or read the article at Trends Magazine.

This kitchen won first place, “Best of the Best” in Subzero’s coveted 2013 biannual regional kitchen design contest. It also garnered the 2013 RAVE (Residential Architects Vision & Excellence) award.

See more of my work at Bjella Architecture.

Trends Magazine Interview with Architect Tim Bjella – Modern Zen Kitchen Design in Minneapolis, Minnesota

I stumbled across this video on the web today of a penthouse loft I designed back in 2012. It’s an interview with New Zealand’s Trends Magazine that I had missed when it published. See the photos.

See more of my work at Bjella Architecture.

Something Alive

Modern Kitchen with Flower Niche

I’m beginning to think that all of our kitchens should have a special place set aside for a flower – a place for something alive (but not alive like a monster or Frankenstein – unless you are into that kind of thing. In which case, call me. I’ve got some great ideas for an Evil Villain’s lair. Don’t think it will fit in your neighborhood? No worries. I know people. Bring suitcases full of money. These things don’t come cheap.

Modern Kitchen with Flower Niche

See more of my work at Bjella Architecture.

Chasing Ghosts – A Minneapolis, Minnesota Modern Kitchen Design… and Re-design

Vent Hood Retrofit

Zoinks!!! It’s not often a kitchen demands an eight foot long vent hood to whisk away the smoke from a cooktop. Naturally, you don’t just walk into The Home Depot and purchase a beast like that, so we custom designed one. Not a very good one, though.

Turns out the vent hood didn’t work. Oh, the unit turned on just fine and looked fantastic! It just didn’t draw smoke out of the kitchen. Two out of three ain’t bad, right? … maybe if you are listening to Meatloaf, but not if you are cooking it.

What went wrong? I immediately suspected ghosts, of course. What else could it be? We had meticulously designed the perfect vent hood for this modern kitchen, accounting for everything down to the tiniest detail. We even specified a roof-mounted blower with the capacity to suck up a small child (although we never actually tested this). We figured we were pretty safe. The homeowners would just have to watch their children. 😉 We thought of everything. Almost.

Vent Hood Prior to Retrofit

When the homeowners finished coughing and wheezing they called the Bjella Special Investigations Team (we’re thinking about getting a van like Scooby-Doo). You can imagine mag-wheels squealing and sirens blaring, the team scrambling to set up specialized computer equipment, drawing diagrams, frantically analyzing algorithms, referencing technical manuals and finally wandering around the kitchen with hand on chin saying things like “hmmm” and “very interesting”. Instead we just lit the burner and watched the smoke rise.

Long story short, I suspected a creepy looking ghost dressed like a man, or visa versa, and wanted to set a trap for it – and possibly have a chase scene. Robyn was skeptical. Cooler heads prevailed. The culprit was, anticlimactically, the house ventilation system. By lightly blowing across the center island, it was short circuiting the air flow from the cooking surface to the vent hood. Yet another reason to place cooktops against walls instead of on center islands (but that’s a topic for another day).

Fabricating a brand new hood would have been costly. We needed to come up with a fix like NASA had for the Hubble Telescope, except significantly less expensive… I take that back. We needed a fix NOTHING like NASA’s.

Because you are undoubtedly on the edge of your seat, sweat on your brow, the solution was simply to extend the hood and create more capture area on the side where the smoke was leaking out. In other words, we put a bill on the hat. Tada! It worked like a charm and, happily, looks even better than the original (oh, and we captured the bad guy. Turns out it was just a dude in a costume. Who would have guessed?).

Shown above is our certified kitchen and cardboard specialist, Robyn (Daphne) Bjella, affixing and testing the mock-up prior to fabrication of the stainless steel retrofit (I mostly sat around taking pictures and eating Scooby snacks – and watching for ghosts).

Vent Hood Retrofit After-2

Vent Hood Retrofit - After

Read more about this Minneapolis, Minnesota modern kitchen by Bjella Kitchen Designers in Trends Magazine.

Can You Spot the Focal Point of this Kitchen?

Bjella Kitchen Design

Hint: It’s not the dust bunny in the corner (just kidding, there will NEVER be a dust bunny in this kitchen).

While the area that draws your attention is, in this case quite obvious, focal points are typically more subtle. Most spaces have one, although it is often unintentional and sometimes even unwelcome. When you walk into your own kitchen, are your eyes drawn to a pretty little flower in a niche or the dirty dishes in the sink?

This focal point is built in, yet, it doesn’t have to be. You can create one in your own kitchen and add some pizzazz with a simple flower, for example. But keep it simple. Less is more.

Bjella Kitchen Design - Focal Point Study

Notice the impact created in the kitchen above by the addition of a simple, small focal point. It does a few things. It draws the eye, providing a splash of color. It also breaks the symmetry of the cooktop area, making it more dynamic and visually interesting. In this case it is a focal point within the larger focal point of the cooktop area. Yes, a good design often has layers of focal points.

Bjella Kitchen Design 5

This focal point is two-sided, serving both the kitchen and the dining room. Two for the price of one!

See more of my work at Bjella Architecture.