To determine which features to include in a kitchen, Atlanta designer Amanda Johnson, with Small Carpenters at Large, begins by asking clients how they use the kitchen and doing an informal inventory of their pots, pans, and utensils. This is especially important, she says, when clients want to include extras or anything out of the ordinary such as bread makers or food processors. Armed with this information, Johnson is able to create designs specifically tailored to the client's lifestyle.

For this project, Johnson says, the wife is of Italian descent and much activity in the kitchen revolves around cooking for and entertaining family. “Both the style and the character of the kitchen originated with her background of family cooking — making it more of a gathering space,” the designer says.

To provide plenty of storage, accommodate multiple cooks, and make the area suitable for entertaining, Johnson expanded the kitchen into the adjacent breakfast room and removed a few walls to open up the kitchen space to the nearby family room.

She says the clients were very involved in coming up with the design. “Because they cook so much, they knew exactly what would work or not work in the space,” Johnson says.

The client wanted the island to look like furniture from an old farmhouse, so the cabinetmaker used trim and wide molding to frame and provide visual weight and added the same wood to the base of the copper rangehood to tie together the entire look.

To open the kitchen to the adjacent living room, designer Amanda Johnson removed two closets, adding a double-door pantry with pull-out drawers and shallow shelves in the door for storage. She also created another large cabinet to hold recycling and cleaning supplies.

The dark pine island provides a rustic contrast to the warm glazed maple of the main cabinetry. Johnson used custom cabinetry to create the finishes and to help her provide all the features that the clients wanted in the space. “A custom cabinetmaker can make exactly what you want with less wasted space. It's priceless,” she says.