Creating Kitchens

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Think a kitchen’s just another room in the house? Tim McIntyre can tell you just how much it isn’t.

Tim McIntyre likes to joke that he has been designing homes since he was 10 years old and never stopped. He runs design-build firm T. McIntyre Homes and became interested in the field as a child, watching his father draw up plans for a place to store camping equipment.

“He was drawing on graph paper and I was fascinated by it and asked him what he was doing,” he recalled. “From then on I was hooked.” He’s been doing his own drawings ever since and is now an award-winning residential architect.

Since it’s impossible to talk about a home without considering the kitchen, that means that McIntyre has spent his fair share of time considering coun- tertops, cabinets and oven ranges. The kitchen, he observed, is more than just another room, since it marries function, socializing and personal philosophy.

Try to design a kitchen without an island, for instance, and clients will look at you like you’re crazy. McIntyre said he’s learned quickly: Islands let people cook and be at the center of their family or guests. “In most houses it’s another living area,” he says of the kitchen, “and it always seems to be that way, no matter where you live, that you end up with people hanging out there with you. The difference is that now, people are designing for it and making it happen better.”

For McIntyre, that means creating a space that can transform a kitchen into more than just a place for cooking, but also a room for gathering and socializing. His dream kitchen does include amenities for cooking, which he loves doing, but would also have ambience to draw people in.

“I like clean, simple, contemporary lines, but with materials like wood to give it texture and warmth, as opposed to a really slick, modern kitchen,” he said. “And an abundance of space, open to whatever living area is nearby, something that can handle many cooks and many people.”

McIntyre has lived in some of the spaces he’s designed and said he always learns something from that experience, such as the importance of seating all the way around a kitchen island, so people can face each other and talk. He has also learned that to make a dining area cozier and draw people into it for more than just eating, adding elements of a library do the trick—think built-in bookcases and wine racks along the wall and wingback chairs at the table.

Most of McIntyre’s work is in the Austin area, and he specializes in urban core neighborhoods and lifestyle. Like many Austin residents, he said, “I came for grad school and never left.” Since 1982 he’s called Austin home and has come to love UT sports from volleyball and baseball to the grand tradition of football tailgating.

Flip through his portfolio, and you’ll see quite a range, from high-end spec houses with opulent cabinetry work to spare, modern downtown condos with minimalist details. When asked the question, he laughed about one of the most challeng- ing kitchens he’s been asked to design: in his sister’s home.

McIntyre’s sister wanted to incorporate details to make the kitchen feel like it had been lived in for decades, so a soapstone sink sits next to a counter that includes a piece of old butcher’s block. A wrought iron fence hangs above the island to make storage for pots and pans. The result was a successful blend of function into a room where the family can gather.

Designing for a family member? He did it with panache.

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