Saad S. Hallak

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El Cajon, CA

When interior designer Zach Azpeitia is first approached by a client, especially one building a new home, he generally knows that the plans are going to inevitably change. Which is exactly what happened when the designer with Atlanta-based Pineapple House was enlisted to transform one couple’s dream home into a comfortable and sophisticated place to relax, live, and host their growing family and grandchildren.

“It’s a collaboration,” says Azpeitia of working with the homeowners, architect, and builder to create an optimum living space for clients. “Once the homeowners came to us and gave us the plans . . . we started working with them and found out [their needs] and we altered the plans a little bit.” Those alterations included some major erasing of walls and heightening of ceilings on paper to open up one of the home’s most important rooms: the kitchen.

 The kitchen—a 1,000-square-foot space boasting an open floor plan that seamlessly connects the casual dining 

area with the family room—is the highlight of the golf-course set home located in an Atlanta suburb. The space originally had a couple of walls dividing the three areas into separate yet cozy spaces. But after talking more with the homeowners, who wanted to be able to host large family gatherings in the 8,000-square-foot home, Azpeitia redrew the plans and eliminated the segregating walls. “The homeowners’ kids are grown up so they really live in this space the most and wanted it to open to the family room,” he explains.

 Next, in order to open up the entire space, the ceiling was heightened significantly from 12 feet to an impressive 16 feet with a large cathedral ceiling in the family room area. “We actually raised the ceiling to give the room more volume and added more windows to be more connected to the outside,” says Azpeitia. As the home sits perched on a hill, the outside patio boasts a stunning view of the golf course and pool, and by connecting the inside with the outside it extends the living space dramatically.

 The focal point of the kitchen is the dramatic limestone-covered range hood, which, says Azpeitia, was so heavy even the builder was concerned with how it would remain in place. But after much tooling and engineering, the team figured out a way to install the massive piece, which resulted in a stunning fixture in the transitional-style kitchen.

 To keep the three spaces seamlessly connected, walnut hardwoods run throughout while the furnishings—which boast a neutral color palette of grays and tans with pops of green and blue—are similar in their transitional lines. Granite countertops and a limestone backsplash pair well with custom cherry cabinetry that extends into the family room. To keep the cabinetry from feeling too “kitchen-y,” Azpeitia designed it to look as if it were pieces of oversize furniture. To break up the granite, though, one of the large islands features a wood top, while to keep the space cohesive, two fireplaces—one in the dining area and the other in the family room—are prominent fixtures at both ends of the expansive yet cozy room.

 To enhance to the dramatic ceiling height in the family room, Azpeitia added wood trusses from reclaimed barnwood. A large chandelier from Fourteenth Colony Lighting serves as one of the focal points of the family room while custom draperies in a soothing green floral pattern by Lee Jofa soften the rustic elements. An Indonesian hutch featuring a gray finish achieves the same soothing, softening effect in the kitchen area. 
 In order to let the major elements shine such as the limestone hood, reclaimed barnwood trusses, and stone fireplaces, Azpeitia kept the base of the room neutral. “There’s a lot going on in this space,” he says. “We just wanted the background to complement the space. We just wanted that background to go away.” 
The result of tearing down and moving walls and heightening ceilings—on paper at least—was well worth the time and effort, says Azpeitia. “The homeowners absolutely love it,” he says, adding that the open floor plan works well for their growing family. “They’re really enjoying the house.” 

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This time of year, farmers work overtime to bring their wares to our dinner table. The flavors of the autumn harvest are unlike any other, and they beg to be enjoyed. But instead of rushing to create a meal, take your time in the kitchen and appreciate all it has to offer.

 The kitchen is our haven. It expresses our very being and sometimes who we aspire to be—maybe a gourmet chef or a foodie on a mission to find the next delicious recipe. It’s also a place of comfort. A place to find a hearty and creamy kale and potato gratin sitting on the stovetop, just waiting to be enjoyed after a long day at school.  

The kitchen is where conversation finds a table filled with mouthwatering recipes of the season. Moist and juicy chicken breasts stuffed with tart, diced apples and melted Brie cheese is complemented by a platter of crisp tender green beans topped with crumbled chèvre, sweet dried cherries, and toasted pine nuts all beautifully laced with a balsamic vinaigrette. Bringing these lovely dishes together is a crisp and bubbly apple cider champagne cocktail that makes dinner feel just a little special. Dessert is served, and family and friends linger over gorgeous pumpkin coconut tarts topped with whipped cream and warm caramel sauce. This treat offers the perfect ending to a perfect meal created in the most treasured space—the kitchen.

Click on the pictures for the recipe!


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