The Social Kitchen: Four Fabulous Spaces to Feast With Family & Friends

Scale and texture and utility convene in the creation of easy, elegant, and food-forward kitchens.
Nz6 3639 40 41 42 43 44 Natural Copy

Cabinetry by JS Custom Cabinetry is used around the perimeter and on the island, which houses an XO Appliance wine cooler; two Kohler sinks sport Moen faucets. Photograph by Robert Norman.

Design by the Jonathans

When a Milford family renovated their home to expand its footprint, creating a larger kitchen was a top priority. They enlisted New Haven–based firm Design by the Jonathans to create a diverse layout that tied in their favorite aesthetics: modern farmhouse and coastal. “This kitchen is based in contrast,” explains lead designer Jonathan Gordon. “You have black, white and a good amount of gray.”

Black windows and white shiplap siding are hallmarks of the fan-favorite modern farmhouse look. But to keep the classic design from feeling staid, Gordon injected textural and coastal touches throughout the space, such as a beaded chandelier above the island. “There’s the ripply off-white subway tile, and the island features a beautiful, whitewashed oak,” the designer adds. “It also has a particularly nice specimen of blue tempest quartzite for the countertop. The homeowners wanted something really amazing and unique—and it delivers.”

Nz6 3751

Tempest Blue quartzite from Marble and Granite, Inc. steals the show atop the roomy island. Photograph by Robert Norman.


Along with the multidimensional island, a black door, dark hardwood flooring, plus black hardware and fixtures offset sleek white countertops and gray cabinetry. “It’s still neutral and very, very clean, but we’re breaking out of that all-white aesthetic,” the designer confirms. “There’s a significant amount of depth and texture. The color pops are subtle, but they’re definitely there.”

The attractive look is also incredibly functional, with a central hub for cooking and entertaining, as well as a walk-in pantry and a full wet bar off of the kitchen. “This kitchen is designed very carefully for station-based cooking,” Gordon adds. “We took a large space and made it so that there’s tremendous logical flow.”


F+H Architecture and CFK Interiors

Ck10 21 011

Top-of-the-line appliances—like a Bertazzoni range and hood, Thermador dishwasher and Electrolux refrigerator and freezer units—were of utmost importance to Steven Kalur, who loves to cook. Photograph by David McCaughan.

You might call Claudia and Steven Kalur—an interior decorator and architectural designer, respectively—a power couple. This was especially true when they joined forces to create a state-of-the-art kitchen for their home, a new construction in historic Litchfield. From the outset, the duo knew exactly what would be best for their family of three (or four, including their teenage dog).

“Every single detail was thought out and planned during the design phase,” Claudia explains. “This may actually be the only project that Steven and I have worked on, jointly or separately, where nearly all of the decisions on finishes, materials, fixtures and fittings were made even before the foundation went into the ground.”

Ck10 21 040

The walk-in pantry cabinets were designed by F+H Architectural Designs, locally made and finished with Farrow & Ball paint. Photograph by David McCaughan.

That vision? A layout that would accommodate a beloved vintage china cabinet, a generous open walk-in pantry and access to the adjacent dining and living areas that can be closed off by a set of French doors. That meant foregoing the popular kitchen island in lieu of ample counter space for Steven, who loves to cook. Thanks to a roomy pantry and hutch, the couple decided to include only lower cabinetry, which was designed by Steven and built bespoke by millworkers in Washington.

Material selection underlined the goal for a kitchen that is warm, cozy and also practical. PentalQuartz countertops complement Farrow & Ball paint on the wood paneling and cabinetry, while a ceramic farm sink and unlacquered brass faucets and hardware add warmth. “The walnut counters in the pantry visually separate this area from the kitchen and add a certain sophistication to a room that is mostly functional,” Claudia explains. “We knew exactly what we wanted, and absolutely love our kitchen.”


Kitchen Strt47592

A contemporary light fixture from Luke Lamp Co. anchors the island, accompanied by Design Within Reach stools. Photograph by Paul Johnson Photography.


Dining Wine 47552

In the dining area, a glass wine cabinet by Heritage Vine gets the party started next to a wet bar painted in high gloss Witching Hour paint from Benjamin Moore. Photograph by Paul Johnson Photography.

Walking into this 1860s antique home overlooking Branford’s Thimble Islands, one might expect to find bucolic, country-chic interiors. While, yes, you will be greeted with clean white shiplap ceilings and rich walnut herringbone floors, the overall aesthetic favors the contemporary.

“Because the home is antique, the previous interiors consisted of tight, small spaces that just weren’t conducive to a modern lifestyle,” explains Deane designer Buffy Goodwin. “We knocked out the interior walls and replaced them with steel support structures, capturing front-to-back views of the water.”

Now, an open floor plan is perfect for entertaining extended family and friends with ample places to gather. The spacious island, painted in Benjamin Moore’s Witching Hour and topped with Calacatta Corchia marble to complement the counters and backsplash, can seat five. Also connected is the dining room, where a table for eight is positioned next to a full wet bar, painted in complementary high-gloss navy paint.

Throughout, cabinetry features a simple slab door in a smoky white paint, finished with contemporary satin nickel hardware. Along with the custom hammered stainless steel range hood, the lighting delivers modern flair. Above the island, an adjustable LED fixture by Luke Lamp Co. creates a stylish sculptural accent that doesn’t block the view. “The sum total of these materials creates a symphony of tones, colors and textures that are unexpected but beautiful together,” Goodwin explains. “I love the metal details on the island legs, the simplicity of the cabinetry as it sits on the large scale herringbone floor and the two colors used together seamlessly.” 

Of course, everything is discreetly functional as well, like glass-front doors on the side-by-side Sub-Zero pro fridge/freezer or the wet bar’s retractable doors that cleverly close to conceal the sink and bottle storage.

Nk4 22 2140292 Edit 2 2

White quartzite countertops, with matching stone backsplash, and stainless steel Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances create a clean and airy color palette. Photograph by Kyle Norton.


For her Ridgefield kitchen renovation, a design-minded homeowner knew exactly what she wanted—a white, black and brass kitchen with improved views of her property’s bucolic woodland area and river. Nukitchens designer Chris Cross was up to the task. First and foremost, he doubled the size of a picture window behind the sink to let in the west-facing nature views year round. 

Then, to create a cohesive layout, Nukitchens transformed a coat closet into a sleek bar area, created a custom desk for a built-in workstation and positioned a large round dining table next to the spacious island. Sneaky hidden storage—like the cabinet to the right of the window, which conceals countertop appliances and an iPad—keeps the space organized. 


A secret door by Plain & Fancy custom cabinetry pulls down to conceal an iPad and small appliances. Photograph by Kyle Norton.

With visual clutter removed, Cross and his team could create a light and airy design. Sophisticated black lower cabinets complement the island base, custom desk and black metal library lights. “To balance the rich use of black throughout the space, we used a full-height matching natural stone backsplash,” explains Nukitchens founder Joseph Najmy. Then, a mix of finishes adds depth and interest. 

“You’ll see touches of brass throughout, the custom zinc range hood, stainless steel appliances and mixed metal finishes on the Brizo faucet,” Najmy says. Note decorative elements like the barn doors panels on the side of the refrigerator and glass inlays on upper cabinetry. 

“This client had a very clear vision that she committed to throughout the space,” he adds. “She was a pleasure to work with, and we were happy to be able to fulfill her vision.” 

The print version of this article appears with the headline: Material World.
Subscribe to C&G