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Opposites Attract

Regional Award Winner KDC 2006-2007

An architect and metal artist combine forces for a warm, contemporary kitchen in the treetops that merges scale with contemporary and rustic surfaces.

For almost a decade architect Francine Besselaar, her husband metal artist Peter Abrams and their three children, lived in their 1951 clapboard home in Princeton, New Jersey, giving them lots of time to plan every remodel detail. "The property is the reason we bought it," says Besselaar. "It's very private, with trees, a beautiful backyard and lush English garden. The original house didn't take advantage of the views, so the concept was to build a barn-like space onto the back for a kitchen and to open to the views outside."

Besselaar worked on the home with colleagues Ellyn Barr and Canan Akyuz to enhance her family's active, casual lifestyle. Thoughtful details are everywhere. Open shelves give fast access to plates and cups. The Sub-Zero PRO 48 glass front allows the kids to grab a quick snack while doing homework at the island, table, or family room. A long trough cut into the Carerra marble island top has a custom rack for draining dishes and utensils but can be removed and filled with ice for entertaining. "The Wolf 60-inch range is great when we have a lot of people over," says Besselaar, adding that to the left of the range, a sliding window serves as a convenient pass-through to the outdoor buffet area.

Sapele mahogany below clerestory windows matches the new contemporary Sapele and corrugated copper exterior façade, and pin lights mimic stars at night. The Murano glass chandelier creates unexpected magic within the large volume and against the massive bluestone hearth. A frosted glass skylight cut into the wide-plank oak floor visually separates the kitchen from the bar and dining space, and brings light to the fitness room below. Custom cabinets and armoire are all Rosewood. "I just love Rosewood," says Besselaar. "The grain, the color variation... it's very alive."

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