Open Kitchens, Four Ways: Modern, Refined, Organic and Traditional

Four spaces--and four styles--that serve double or triple duty.

Open Kitchens, Four Ways: Modern, Refined, Organic and Traditional

Where did everyone end up at your house over the holidays? For the majority of us, the answer is…in the kitchen. If you’re lucky enough to have one with an open design, then your space easily flows from food prep to cooking to eating and even lounging. In the four kitchens featured here, spaces that serve double or triple duty naturally transition one into another, effortlessly accommodating the lives that we lead.

Modern Open Kitchen with DWR BarstoolsPhoto: Kyle Norton



In this Rowayton home, teamwork was the key to a successful kitchen remodel and addition designed by Beinfield Architecture in collaboration with NuKitchens and homeowners Sarah and Tom Balsley. “This is the second kitchen we designed with Tom and Sarah,” says Joe Najmy, owner of NuKitchens. “Tom is a well-known landscape architect, so they have a deep connection with the outdoors. The kitchen had to be a very simple, clean neutral palette against which the plantings, waterfront and sky are viewed.”

To capitalize on a panoramic view of Farm Creek (a tidal estuary) from the rear of the home, particular attention was paid to the island design so that the prep area was integrated with the family room and its walls of windows. The Balsleys love to entertain family and friends, so the island was also a key component in the design from a social perspective (wide seating area, deep countertop for food prep, cabinetry at one end, waterfall top on the other end). Cooking/family activities are part of the core that also leads to the more formal living room. 

For a clean, simple aesthetic, Caesarstone countertops were chosen in Ocean Foam to complement the large-scale glass wall tiles and high-gloss Plain & Fancy cabinetry. “We honored the architect’s proportions and sight lines with the homeowner’s need for a bright, low-maintenance kitchen environment,” says Najmy. His favorite part of the kitchen? “The waterfall edge on the island, shadow line around wall cabinets and wall tile size and color."

Open Kitchen with Butcher-Block Island Photo: Nancy Hill



When Mark Finlay of Mark P. Finlay Architects designed this Darien home, the client requested open-concept living areas to match how they live: A busy family with seven kids equals lots of activity. Finlay delivered with a large transparent space showcasing Long Island Sound views through a huge wall of windows on one side, and north to Five Mile River on the other. 

Smart storage solutions were essential to the success of the kitchen, which adjoins a dining room and a roomy, two-storey paneled great room. “Whenever the kitchen is part of the main living space, it starts to dictate the décor,” notes Finlay. Storage is accommodated with plenty of high cabinets and a back pantry, essentially a back-of-the-house kitchen, entered through a doorway next to the Viking range. And flanking the window above the sink, “symmetrical glass cabinets help create a subliminal order that’s not rigid,” says Finlay. Skilled use of tonal blues unifies the entire space—from furnishings to ceiling.

A peninsula offers a place to sit outside the cooking area, while still being able to converse with those working in the kitchen, functioning as a transitional area from the great room. Whereas the island, which features a change in materials to help differentiate the space, is more intimate and creates a cozy “inner kitchen” perfect for food prep or a quiet dinner. French doors at the end of the dining room further extend living space to an outdoor grill area. “This design is very specifically about this family’s life, and its openness enhances the way they live,” says Finlay.

Open Kitchen with Organic Materials Photo: Hulya Kolabas



When this open kitchen with a vaulted ceiling was due for a redesign, the homeowner called on Mar Silver of Mar Silver Design to completely reimagine the space into a modern-design dream kitchen. “The antique floors and the planking on the ceiling are the details that give it the wow factor,” says Silver.

Functionality and ease of entertaining were part of the design goal, too. “Because the space is large, it was easy to imagine how we’d lay it out based on how the homeowners live,” says the designer. “It was an ideal kitchen to design because it can be both intimate and grand, yet still very functional as the hub of the home.”

Silver was inspired by the big windows, natural light and grand loft-like feeling of the space. But that openness also created a design challenge. “Large open spaces can be sterile. That’s why texture is so important to me and also why we added the planking on the ceiling,” says Silver. “It not only adds a bit of drama but also character and warmth. Same with the floors. These details add luxury and keep the space balanced and grounded.”

When it came to seating, Silver’s choices were casual, light and dramatic. “The stools are meant to coexist with the island keeping the lines clean and modern,” says the designer. And the homeowners’ favorite part of the kitchen? “The homeowners love the floors!” says Silver.

Open Kitchen with Traditional Cabinets Photo: Davidson McCulloh



To craft a new, elegant yet functional kitchen, Romina Romano of RPR Architecture LLC added square footage and demolished a series of existing small spaces, including a powder room, an L-shaped kitchen and a porch. The homeowners requested plenty of storage, a large island, plus an open area with lots of windows and views. “I wanted the main sink and length of the island to be oriented facing out to have the best view,” says Romano. “Creating the most functional kitchen with daily use in mind and having the daily use be as rewarding—in terms of light and view—was the starting point. This determined where the appliances, range, sink, etc. were all placed.”

Because the house is situated at a much higher elevation than the surrounding homes, it has wonderful light and views of Long Island Sound, which are captured by a wall of windows. “The dining area was designed to fit within the octagonal volume that is the ‘jewel’ at the end of the kitchen space,” explains Romano. “We wanted to maintain its distinct shape without closing it off from the kitchen; it had to be a continuation of the kitchen, while still maintaining its individuality.”

And the homeowners couldn’t be happier: “I love being able to have the whole family sit around the big island at the end—not just bar seating, but it feels like a real table. And I like having more-formal seating in the kitchen at the breakfast-room table.”