7 Stellar Kitchens

Here’s what’s cooking in that exciting room where food becomes feast

1. Silver-Plated
Great for Weekend Cocktails with Friends

Phillip Kasparek and Rod Peters wanted a sleek and sophisticated look for their second home’s kitchen, and they got it. Designer Christopher Kennedy specified GE Monogram appliances and other professional fittings for these home cooks. At the same time, because the couple is normally in town on weekends only and they entertain more with cocktail parties than formal dinners, Kennedy provided plenty of comfortable bar stools and ample counter space to mix martinis. “The kitchen is open to the great room, so it also needed to be a showpiece,” Kennedy says. “The stainless steel splash serves as a gleaming focal point.”

* Dark fruitwood cabinets add warmth to an otherwise cool palette.

* Stainless steel brick-pattern tile from CV Flooring and Design moves the eye across the kitchen’s expanse.

* Innovations brand wallpaper beneath the bar adds a wonderful texture and shine to an area that’s often an afterthought. Made of a practical vinyl, Kennedy chose it for its resilience to the inevitable kicks and scratches it will endure from those who take a seat.

* Countertops by Eurostone from CV Flooring and Design are the ideal color complement to the wallpaper, tile, and stainless appliances.

* Fuchsia suspension lights by Flos available at Y Lighting put the spotlight on what’s happening at the bar.

2. Into The Future
Great for the Untra-Modern Socialite

Marlow LaFountaine of Zebra Development Inc. says he borrowed the concept for his kitchen from the early Starbucks coffee shops. “They had such a great look,” he says. “They were so funky and well done until the health department came in and made them change it.”

LaFountaine designed the home and its eccentric kitchen with Miguel Tellez to achieve a result like no other they’d seen. The kitchen sits smack in the middle of the main floor’s living space, in the very center of home. Though it is surrounded by other rooms, it remains open on three sides, creating an open, loft-like area that’s made for entertaining in slick and daring modern style.

* The kitchen cabinets with curved handles are by Eurotech in zebrawood and black winge. A Kohler double-basin sink mimics the curves. Counters are absolute black honed granite.

* A buttressed canopy floats over the island incorporating dramatic pendant lighting and a hood. The frame was done by Rick and Ishi of Emerald Welding. 

* Metalicized porcelain tiles were treated to look like “old concrete — without the upkeep,” says LaFountaine.

* Part of the kitchen’s edgy design features custom pieces by Blair Risnes of Express Designs, including the front axle of a 1930 Model A Ford as a cornerstone of the island.

3. Feeling Blue
Great for a Retro Remodel

This architectural 1950s archetype home was run down when purchased as a weekend retreat by entertainment lawyer and interior designer Andy Marcus of A.L.M. Interior Design and his partner Ron Diliberto. With an eye for color and lines and a knack for finding 1950s eye candy, the two set about returning a retro vibrance to the home room by room. The cool blue kitchen is just one of the rooms that has been featured in fashion photo shoots and international home design magazines, prompting Marcus to pursue his talents as a hobby. “Interior design is something that I enjoy doing in my spare time,” he says. “And I have been fortunate enough to get some great press on my work so far.”

* The smartly placed clock has a built-in kitchen timer.

* A new coat of blue lacquer paint preserved the integrity of the original 1950s cabinets while giving them a new blue shine. Marcus then added acrylic handles from IKEA.

* Though they look original to the home, the vinyl floors were inspired by those in the advertisements in 1957 issues of Better Homes & Gardens magazines. The couple designed the pattern, used tile from Home Depot, and installed it themselves.

* The original countertops were replaced with laminate. Appliances, with the exception of the vintage electric cook top, are new.

* Marcus and Diliberto designed and installed the white, blue, and black Daltile backsplash to complement the floor’s tile pattern.

* The pair collected the vintage Chromex spice shakers and canisters over time from local thrift stores. “I have a complete set, minus a very elusive little canister for grease that is very hard to come by,” says Marcus.

4. Midcentury A G0-G0
Great for an Alexander Party House

This space-age-meets-Japanese-pop-culture kitchen lives in an equally mod 1960 Alexander home on Racquet Club Road. “When I sold it, the whole house was retro ’70s and gearded toward entertaining,” says Paul Kaplan, Realtor for Deasy/Penner & Kaplan, which specializes in midcentury properties. “There is a huge pool and spa out back, and music is piped throughout the rooms. Still, it took a specific buyer. Not everyone can appreciate this type of décor.”

* White tile-topped counters maintain the classic midcentury look, as do white appliances, which seem more true to the era than stainless steel.

* The kitchen’s overall design “tied in with the way the rest of the house was decorated,” Kaplan says, “which is like a fun, 1970s party house.”

* A Warhol-esque repetition of boxes of Pocky, a favorite cookie in Japan, add a sweet visual element. (Kaplan says the previous owners used the slim shelves to display their Barbie doll collection.)

5. Bigger is Better
Great for Grand-Scale Entertaining

An open-plan house in Palm Desert, with doors sliding into walls — blurring the lines between what is interior and exterior space — is home to this supersized chef’s kitchen. The sweeping space dedicated to the kitchen is integrated into the main living areas with cross-cut Palatino travertine floors and a partition (instead of a full wall). Interior designer by James Magni favored oak, granite, and stainless steel for the kitchen for their natural beauty and durability.

* High, 17-foot ceilings — care of architect Ed Lohrbach — don’t trap the heat and odors of cooking. To create intimacy within the kitchen, a “floating” or dropped soffit was added, incorporating the room’s heating, cooling, and lighting systems.

* This Viking double-door refrigerator easily holds both day-to-day supplies and ingredients for entertaining. Dacor wall ovens complete the look.

* The oversized island allows for prep room, a cleaning sink, and elegant seating for four on barstools designed by Magni Classic furniture.

* Under-counter custom lighting combines beauty and functionality. Countertops are fashioned from slabs of sea foam Brazilian green granite with a triple-layered, stepped-edge detail.

* The cabinets were custom designed of rift-sawn white oak with a “ceruse” finish. Magni explains: “This finish opens the vertical rift-sawn white oak by wire brushing the grain. A cream gesso and umber stain were then applied. Once dry, it was sanded off, showcasing the beautiful warm tones to the vertical oak panels.”

6. All Lit Up
Great for Natural and Interior Light

With a degree in architecture, it’s no wonder interior designer James Magni often relies upon architect-turned-kitchen-designer, Laurie Haefele to collaborate with him. During the remodel of this home, the two uncovered windows that had been hidden and designed custom cabinetry that complements the wood floors.

Architecturally, the strongest element were the glue-laminated beams juxtaposed with white walls. With much of its “bones” exposed, the kitchen inspired the design duo to pull off a more industrial look. Magni feels, “The overall look is sleek, architectural, and Italian,” combining natural light and wide-open spaces with custom lighting and kitchen necessities that are cleverly hidden away.

* Light woods and beamed ceilings are accented by natural light from the windows paired with plenty of spotlights.

* Magni says the Boffi system from Italy was a natural choice for cabinetry. “We didn’t want the kitchen to appear as a remodel, more like it was always married to the architecture,” he says. “The Boffi system’s signature style of 2 1/2-inch thick oak laminated wood counters and shelves, juxtaposed to blizzard white Caesarstone”creates an interesting blend of starkness and warmth.

* Plumbing fixtures are a classic modern design by Arne Jacobsen for Vola Appliance.

* Dishes and glassware line up neatly behind satin aluminum garage-style tambour doors.

7. Warm and Woody
Great for Going With the Grain

Specializing in kitchen and bath design, Beth Pachacki of Inspirations helped her clients turn their older Spanish hacienda-style home in the Traditions Golf Club into one with an Asian-fusion feel. Before the remodel, this kitchen was dated by ceramic tile counters, knotty pine cabinetry, and limited space for work and storage Pachacki brought in natural elements to complement the Asian theme and lend a warmth that’s surprisingly lacking in many kitchens. Cozy hues in the wood, bronze, and granite shown here are enhanced by the color and texture of a cool slate floor.

* Glass tiles from Ann Sacks form a backsplash in earthy colors — from olive and brick to mustard and espresso. The tiles pick up hues in the wood cabinets that are stained a deep mahogany.

* A six-burner Viking range makes ample room for two cooks in the kitchen.

* Countertops were updated with a black honed granite.

* The island is topped with an unusual choice: an exotic wood butcher block, which makes for a stunning centerpiece.

* The cabinet handles are a perfect match with the bronze arm of the chandelier.

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