For more than a decade, Ellen and Jeff Grossman had a plain white no-frills kitchen in their Palm Harbor residence—an outdated eyesore in the middle of an otherwise promising open floor plan. By the end of 2013, the Grossmans embarked on a full-scale revamping project. They enlisted George Gobes, president of the venerable Park Avenue Designs in Tampa, as their designer.
The Grossman kitchen exemplifies a larger trend that Gobes has witnessed throughout the past 10 years, he says. A more transitional approach to the contemporary style is gaining universal appeal. Clients do not want to invest in kitchens that will be out of fashionin five years; they want a clean, modern look with a mix of traditional, timeless elements.
The 3,000-square-foot house itself was already 20 years old. Ellen had spent years collecting kitchen magazines and earmarking hundreds of glossy pictures. “I wanted contemporary but not ultra contemporary, and I wanted to keep the look a little warm. I sort of knew I wanted something soft,” she explains.
Soft and warm, she received. The Grossmans’ island top is now made of 1¾-inch-thick solid Wenge wood, and the perimeter tops are Cambria Quartz (the Oakhampton style, which boasts a deep ocher tone).
The handmade custom cabinetry is comprised of African veneer (grain-matched quartered Mozambique). “We focused on the Mozambique veneer, which is an African veneer, and did the Wenge wood countertop. We used either brushed nickel or stainless steel throughout. Most contemporary is a lot of stainless, shiny surfaces, and this was different,” Gobes says.
There is a ¾-inch clear glass shelf propped up by German-made Kessebohmer steel posts along the bar, as well as a zero radius single-bowl sink, a Miele appliance package, an Italian imported hood, a vertical glass tile backsplash, and a series of light-emitting diode (LED) under-cabinet lights.
The Grossmans enjoyed the switch from an electric to a gas range, and from a split sink to a larger open one. While they are not gourmet cooks, the space fits their lifestyle. Their children are grown and the Grossmans both continue to work, so, at the end of the business day, they have an easy-to-maintain, inviting kitchen. “I’m a very basic cook and this layout is very easy to work with. By the time I get home from work, I just pull out whatever I have in the fridge. I love the fact that we have the open floor plan, which has the family room, so everyone can gather there,” Ellen says. “Everyone’s in love with the kitchen and no one can believe we did that wood countertop. Also, with our tile, I continued the north-south pattern that is in the wood grain on the cabinets, and people notice that because it’s interesting, it’s cascading.”
From the metal in the vertical cabinet handles and the horizontal drawer pulls to the veneer on the door fronts and wood on the countertops, each natural element comes together in the Grossman kitchen to create the ideal marriage of forward-mindedness and past perfection.
“I love the openness, the warmth, the newness, the softness,” Ellen says. “We had company on Saturday night and we never ended up going into the family room. We just stayed standing in the kitchen.” This kitchen definitely has true longevity.