Green Kitchen
Has beauty and purpose for young family

by Melissa Lefelar

Ramneek and Amardeep Chauhan are a young Geauga County couple that knew exactly what they wanted when they built their dream house in Novelty – a large contemporary with cutting edge design elements that would teach their children some important life lessons and work with their busy lifestyle.

“As much as anything, we wanted to incorporate green elements to reinforce the importance of being responsible to the environment to our children,” said Dr. Amardeep Chauhan, a physician who practices at Precision Orthopedics Specialty in Chardon. “The schools do a tremendous job of making the kids aware of the environmental issues we face globally. Carrying this through at home wherever possible helps reinforce what they are learning.”

The design of the home’s kitchen reflects this responsible attitude. Payne & Payne Builders used several “green” construction elements throughout the entire home, including heated floors, advanced air filtering systems, top-of-the-line insulation and non-toxic paint.

Ruthann Capozzi of Capozzi Design Group in Chagrin Falls was charged with making the kitchen not only green, but good looking and family-friendly. Peninsula Architects designed the home, but gave Capozzi and the homeowners lots of freedom in the kitchen.

“The architects basically gave us a blank slate, just placing the appliances,” Capozzi said. She steered the couple toward the versatile Aster Cucine cabinet line from Italy, which comes in a variety of colors. The doctor knew immediately what would fit in their kitchen.

“My husband saw the plum and wanted it,” Ramneek said. “He has a good eye for how things will work.”

Upon entering the kitchen, there is a family “command” center, hidden in one of those tall, plum cabinets. It functions as a desk would in a more traditional design, containing a laptop docking station, phone jacks, lunch boxes, notepaper and the always-important family calendar. Beneath it, each of the Chauhans’ three children has a drawer for their personal items.

Capozzi balanced the plum of the vertical cabinets with complimentary, horizontal-grain walnut. In fact, the majority of the cabinets used by the family for everyday dishes, pots and pans are horizontal pullouts. The kids’ plastic dinnerware is in one of the lowest drawers, offering easy access and independence for the youngest family members. One of the most unusual features is the nesting of cabinets – when you open each of the horizontal cabinets, you often find another drawer inside. Ramneek uses these for her cooking utensils and everyday flatware. Even the cabinet around the sink has ample, hidden space for dishwashing liquid, pot scrubbers and kitchen towels.

Capozzi said European designers use this technique of nesting because their kitchens are small and require judicious use of space. But that’s not the reason this type of cabinet was used in the Chauhan home. “The Italian cabinets offer a much different look than a domestic cabinet,” said Capozzi. “They don’t have the traditional, L-shaped kitchen. It’s a different way to use space and is much more artful. It offers a more contemporary look.”

The next selection was the backsplash. The Chauhans fell in love with a striking, glass mosaic tile in tones of beige, blue and grey. The Erin Adams product is made of recycled glass, fitting the green bill, and acted as a jumping off point for other materials used in the kitchen. “We love the way everything comes together,” said Ramneek. “The blue in the backsplash is picked up by the fleck in the granite countertop. The color of the island reflects the plum of the cabinets.”

That island is another green element in the kitchen, made of 3form, a recycled plastic. It looks like opaque glass, yet doesn’t scratch and works well as a place for the family to eat breakfast or have a snack.

Everywhere you look in the home, including the island, there are lots of curvy spaces.

“There is a lot of fun geometry going on in the whole house that is picked up in the kitchen,” said Joseph Matava, Principal with Peninsula Architects. “There is a generous use of curves-on the floors, on the countertops, in the cabinetry and the light fixtures.”

The stainless steel appliances continue the sleek, modern look. The set-up of the refrigerators is unique. Ramneek said she only shops once a week, requiring lots of space for cold storage. So the builders made extra space for two side-by-side, deep refrigerator-freezers. It looks like one, huge industrial-sized unit, but the manufacturer simply put one handle on the left and one on the right.

Having two refrigerators came with an unexpected benefit: one unit is egg- and meat-free in respect of several vegetarians in their extended family. “They didn’t ask us to do that, but since we did, they are very appreciative,” Ramneek said.

Modern, high-end touches are everywhere, from the floating, curved light fixture above the island, to the extra-wide, stainless cabinet pulls, to the lighted, upper cabinets with stainless accents.

“We just love the way everything came together with the colors and the flow for use,” said Ramneek. “It works really well for us.”

And they can also feel good about building a home that is environmentally friendly.

“Living green will likely be very relevant to them (the Chauhan children) as they grow,” said Amardeep. “Payne & Payne and Peninsula Architects deserve most of the credit for delivering the green home.”

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