Contemporary Kitchen Oasis

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This kitchen design seamlessly blends aesthetics with functionality, ideal for family gatherings and social events.

Story by Ann Butenas    |    Photography by Matt Kocourek

This newly constructed home in Leawood, Kansas, provided the perfect canvas for an innovative kitchen design project helmed by Sue Shinneman, CKD, of Kitchen Studio: Kansas City. Collaborating with designer Bonnie Taylor, Shinneman embarked on crafting a kitchen that epitomizes contemporary design while exuding warmth and fostering family interaction. This project wasn’t just about aesthetics; it was about creating a multifunctional space for everything from entertaining guests to serving as a home office and a homework hub.

The initial architectural plans of the kitchen presented a significant challenge. The designers’ objective was to tailor the space to the family’s unique lifestyle without sacrificing style. The solution was a bold reimagining of the kitchen layout, which involved removing a previously planned butler’s pantry to make way for a more expansive and open kitchen area. This strategic redesign achieved a balance between an open-plan concept and seamless functionality.

At the heart of this kitchen’s allure is the harmonious blend of materials. The striking contrast between high gloss white cabinetry and the warmth of engineered walnut veneer sets the stage for a visually captivating and inviting environment. The Calacatta Lincoln marble, particularly at the range area, acts as a stunning focal point, enhancing the kitchen’s contemporary charm. Additionally, the incorporation of floating shelves and a diverse mix of metal finishes, ranging from stainless steel to brass and black, adds layers of sophistication and warmth.

Designed to be the epicenter of family activity, the kitchen boasts several innovative features. Notably, a sliding backsplash storage unit positioned behind the range allows for convenient storage, with marble sliding panels adding an element of elegance. The island features a strategically placed “social sink” at one end, expanding the usable countertop workspace and facilitating interaction. Integrated LED lighting throughout the kitchen not only enhances its functionality but also contributes to its modern aesthetic.

Material selection was crucial in achieving the desired contemporary look while ensuring practicality. The island countertops are crafted from durable quartz material, known for its longevity and ease of maintenance. The wet bar’s top is made from flat grain Rift-cut white oak, custom stained to complement the walnut cabinetry, and finished with a permanent coating that resists water and stains.

The kitchen’s lighting and storage solutions showcase an exceptional attention to detail. Overhead recessed cans and puck lights illuminate the wet bar area, while LED strip lights under the island overhang serve both functional and ambient lighting purposes. The storage design is meticulously planned, featuring towers on either side of the range for essential items, custom interiors for specific storage needs, and a cleverly hidden marble slab sliding door system behind the range.

The island, with its waterfall quartz countertop and corner-placed sink, is a central feature of this kitchen design. This setup provides a full working prep area and includes a dishwasher, trash pullout, microwave drawer and additional storage, enhancing the island’s functionality.  In addition, Shinneman added a subtle change in countertop height to the island.

“The island countertop is two inches thick with a mitered edge, slightly thicker than the marble tops,” she indicated, emphasizing yet another layer of detail that adds to the overall unique personality of this space.

This kitchen transcends its primary role as a cooking space; it stands as a testament to the harmony between contemporary design and practical living. The joint effort of Shinneman and Taylor has culminated in a kitchen that is not just visually stunning but also a functional masterpiece, perfectly aligned with the homeowner’s lifestyle. With its thoughtful design and meticulous attention to detail, this kitchen sets a new benchmark in modern, family-centric kitchen spaces.

“I so enjoyed the collaboration between Bonnie, myself and the client,” noted Shinneman. “I love when a collection of ideas come together to create such a great space for family and friends to gather.”

This kitchen project is more than a new contemporary space; it’s also a journey where functionality and aesthetic design meet. This space is about cooking and about living, working, and enjoying life in a beautifully designed environment that caters to every need of a modern family.


  • Kitchen Design: Sue Shinneman, CKD, Kitchen Studio: KC
  • Interior Design: Bonnie Taylor Designs
  • Cabinetry: Crystal Cabinetworks, Kitchen Studio: KC
  • Countertops & Sliding Backsplash: Calacatta Lincoln Marble, Kitchen Studio: KC
  • Fabrication: Dimensional Stoneworks
  • Wood Countertop: Grothouse Inc., Kitchen Studio: KC
  • Appliances: Thermador, Factory Direct Appliance
  • Installation: The Hive

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