van cleave architecture + design

Arts & Crafts Homes | November Issue

“The trouble with this kitchen was that it didn’t go with the rest of the house,” says Suzie Van Cleave, an architect based in Milwaukee. Because there really was no such thing as an ‘Arts & Crafts kitchen.’ Indeed, most period kitchens were small, segregated, utilitarian spaces without fancy woodwork or decorative finishes.

The house in greater Milwaukee, a brick and stucco bungalow with pronounced gables and deep eaves, was built in 1913. While the interior features traditional Arts & Crafts elements, the kitchen, which had been installed in the 1970’s, was not lovely, not very functional, and not Arts & Crafts. The homeowners asked Van Cleave to connect the kitchen to the dining room, to add mudroom functions including electronics storage, and to make a modern kitchen with a 36-inch range look as though it had been built in 1913.

kitchen_cabinet_bracketAbove the apron sink is a hefty wooden bracket; architect Suzie Van Cleave designed it to echo bigger ones under the eaves outside. – Photographer Michael Kaskel

Van Cleave began her career as an interior designer, but went back to school to get a master’s degree in architecture. “In my opinion, interior designers are often called in at the last minute, as an afterthought. That was not very satisfying. After all, it’s about buildings!”

To carry out her clients’ wishes, she took design cues from the existing architecture, including a built-in sideboard in the dining room and the oversized brackets under the roof’s deep overhangs. Van Cleave removed a partial wall dividing the kitchen and the dining area and, with the wall gone, there was space for a large island. Island details include Mission-style corners and furniture-like legs. The island range features a downdraft that vents through the basement to the outside.