When wandering through a local house tour last spring, we stumbled upon one of the most amazing kitchens we've seen in a long time. The kitchen belonged to Jenny, an artist, who also dabbles in interior design with her kitchen decorator/friend, Amy Goldy. Jenny lives in an older home that had a smaller kitchen than she wanted for her family of five. So she went to task to bump it out, giving it more room and light as well as bringing in the white and grey palette she had been eyeing for some time.
The family's eating space is anchored by an 18th-century English gate-legged table, a family heirloom (you know we love heirlooms!), intermixed with stools from Pottery Barn and lit by a Martin chandelier by Julie Neill Designs of New Orleans. The kitchen's custom cabinetry was imagined and brought to life by designer Susan Obercian. We love her use of the marine edges on the marble countertop.
The first thing you notice in Jenny’s kitchen is the serene, light filled room that invites you in to stay a while and eat a fantastic meal. We attribute it to her marble countertops and backsplash (honed statuary). Beyond its amazing looks it's also quite practical with its marine edges (so things don’t go splashing off; quite genius, no?).
The attention to detail didn't stop there. All of the stainless appliances found throughout the kitchen are a combination of some of the top brand names in the industry- Wolf (range), Miele (dishwasher), Sub-Zero (refrigerator/freezer) and Range Craft (hood) - and play off the rivers of grey in the countertops. It gives the kitchen a calm and inviting feeling that was exactly what Jenny was going for.
Hidden in the windows that frame the verdant view are ingenius roll-down screens from Norwood Windows. And when the sun fails to shine, the sink area is lit by nautical-inspired sconces from Urban Archaeology.
The luxury of being able to custom design a kitchen is not lost on Jenny and she feels very lucky to have had the opportunity and to now have this amazing kitchen. It is truly the jewel in this incredibly beautiful house. We talked to Jenny about how she went about designing her dream kitchen and her reflections on the process and outcome.
What was your design inspiration for the kitchen?
My design inspiration came from pouring over Veranda, House Beautiful and Traditional Home magazines. I made a 'look book' that was extremely helpful for Amy Goldy. I found that what I liked was VERY consistent, as I always selected images of white kitchens with lots of grey slabs of marble. I took a few elements from all the torn magazine pages.
What was the toughest part of designing the kitchen?
The 'toughest' (I hate to say 'tough' since it is such a luxury to design a custom kitchen!) part of designing the kitchen was figuring out how to basically use only one wall for cabinetry. I didn't want heavy cabinetry above. Amy noticed that many of my 'look book' images had open shelves and thought that would do the trick. It is one of my favorite parts of the kitchen because both the kids and I can easily grab plates and glasses without the extra (unnecessary) step of opening a cabinet. You really don't lose any space, and you gain easy access. I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to get a bunch of cheap white plates to fill them up and to look consistent.
The kitchen's open shelving demands that dishes remain neat and orderly while removing that extra step of opening and closing cabinet doors. The veining in the statuary marble is reminiscent of a painting and provides subtle contrast to the linearity of the subway tile backsplash (by eco-green tile maker, Virtual Tile).
What was your biggest surprise while the work was going on?
The biggest surprise was how much the marble cost. It was not a great surprise.
What is your favorite part of your kitchen?
My favorite part of the kitchen is the statuary marble that I used everywhere. My second favorite part is the Sub-Zero refrigerator with the glass panel.
The island is furnished with stools form Restoration Hardware when the occasion calls for more casual eating or entertaining. And don't mind us as we covet that glass panel fridge from Sub-Zero and the netted glass globe lanterns from Remains...
What was the smartest design choice you made?
My smartest design choice was to fully utilize Susan Obercian's expertise, and capitalize on making custom cabinets. I tried to imagine exactly how I would use the space. I imagined every possible use: where I reach for knives, utensils, pantry items; where to stash a broom; how I wanted to access my pans. So Susan adhered to all of those things when she designed.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you change?
If I had to change anything, I would find a way to add even MORE hidden refrigeration. I just max out every spot of all of those fridges.
Any advice after it's all said and done?
My advice would be to imagine every possible use specific to you. Also, not to freak out when lemon juice etches the marble, or when it chips a little. It will stain a little bit but that creates a patina over time, and that's a nice thing about real stone.
LEFT: The potfiller by Perrin & Rowe (provider of all the kitchen's faucets) services what are sure to be gourmet meals in the making on the Wolf range. The air is kept clear thanks to the custom hood by Range Craft. RIGHT: We love the contrast between the bright and shiny copper pots by G. Leclerc and the vintage wodden sign by local antiques retailer, Bonny Neiman. Custom built mantle by local supplier Lauderdale Millwork Inc. is replete with architectural detail to frame the gas insert fireplace by Mendota.
Karen Khalaf, architect- http://karenkhalaf.com/
Amy Goldy, designer
Susan Obercian, cabinet designer - www.susanoberciandesign.com
Bob Forst, general contractor http://www.forstcon.com/index.html
The outcome of any home improvement project must be worth the time and money. It’s fairly exciting and daunting to take on a large project but the finished product in Jenny's case was well worth it. It's simply a room you don't want to leave.