Today’s trend in kitchens is going against the grain

All-white kitchens may never be a thing of the past, but lately we are seeing a shift in kitchen design. Stainless appliances are being wrapped in elegant wood in a range of colors as homeowners personalize the heart of the home to match the way they live

photograph by neil landino jr.

Unique wood adds to classic with a twist

When Beth Sisca wanted a new kitchen in her antique farmhouse in Riverside, she called on Jennifer Howard of JWH Design & Cabinetry. “The homeowner had specific ideas for her space,” says Howard. “She needed us to guide her with the layout, functioning and tying it all together.”

By flipping rooms, design options were increased. “The existing kitchen was in the wrong place,” says Howard. “We also had a dropped structural beam that was non-negotiable. By adding flanking tall storage cabinets and glass cabinets opposite the windows, there’s now a balanced symmetry. The dropped beam looks like a natural, and purposeful, design detail.”

photograph by neil landino jr.

Finding storage space was another challenge. “We had to be creative since we were working around some old house quirks. In the butler’s pantry, we used matching cabinet panels to disguise hidden storage in the backsplash area,” says Howard.

The wooden cabinets were inspired by a dark mahogany front door. “I love the contrast of dark and light,” says Sisca. “My own design style is very classic, with a twist. I did not want a white kitchen. I love wood and the warmth that it brings into a house.” For the corner wood countertop, “we introduced her to Wenge,” says Howard. “It’s naturally dark without stain, so it’s perfect for a food-prep surface.”

The kitchen gained a corner table, while a large island divides the space and provides additional seating. “I have a family of six and a Labrador retriever, so I cook a lot,” notes Sisca. “My husband says I command from behind the sink as the family does homework and just hangs out. It’s my favorite part of the house.”

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photography courtesy of klaff's

A clean-lined look works perfectly in this well-used kitchen

The “busiest room in the house” was in need of a complete renovation. “The homeowners were looking for an expanded space to accommodate their family and staff,” says Nick Geragi of Klaff’s. “The kitchen needed to provide multiple work areas, duplication of appliances, a second sink, double the cooking and refrigeration capacity, plus a small dining area.”

Space was created by combining two smaller rooms into one large open area. “Once the kitchen was expanded toward the interior of the house, we needed to be able to close it off from the other living and entertainment areas. A sliding wall/door was created that allows the room to be separated from the balance of the home.”

photography courtesy of klaff's

Figured English Sycamore cabinetry and concrete countertops create the more contemporary, utilitarian feel that the homeowners desired. “English Sycamore offers a distinctive grain flecking pattern. Moving in the contemporary direction, engineered concrete countertops add a ‘structural’ feel to the design,” says Geragi. “Simple but impactful, with a larger-than-life look and feel, the countertop proportions provide scale and purpose. The dark wood floors add a simple backdrop for the surfaces above.”

Glass-tile backsplash and stainless-steel accents reinforce the design, and wall cabinet doors were eliminated for quick access to well-lit dish shelving. The family space, which is located away from the functioning hub of the kitchen, features an expandable 12-seat table, entertainment center and coffee bar. A built-in appliance garage keeps counters free of clutter.

The result is a clean-lined contemporary space that easily accommodates chefs and helpers, provides easy access and clean-up and delivers personal space for the family.

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photographs by neil landino jr.

French farmhouse meets coastal Connecticut

In this waterfront home in Rowayton, the challenge was to integrate the kitchen into a large open floor plan—giving it definition without walls. The natural stone seen in French country farmhouses inspired the use of granite rather than stucco (used elsewhere in the home), which was designed and built by Andy Glazer of Glazer Group. “The stone walls are very traditional,” notes Glazer, “and offer a hearty background for the cabinets and appliances.”

Teak, a strong wood with a nautical feel, was selected for the base cabinets and island. “Using teak gives the kitchen a more timeless feel,” says Glazer. “It adds a certain richness.”

Above the counters, shelving was created by inserting teak boards into the stone. “The homeowner was comfortable displaying open shelves similar to those in a chef’s kitchen,” Glazer explains. “She cooks a lot and is not fussy about her space.” Strip halogen lights were routed into the underside of each shelf to provide down-lighting to the shelf below. “We decided to light them to give the items on the shelf and the stone a softer look.”

A walk-in pantry and a set of wall cabinets were added. “After agreement on open shelves, I knew that we needed more storage for pots, etc. I created a closet that acts as a separation when you come through the door,” notes Glazer. “Opaque glass helps hide pots, pans and other items.”

Re-purposed wood reinforces the rustic feel and brings a sense of place to this new home. “The wood beams are from a barn in Wisconsin,” says Glazer. “And the boarding on the ceiling is from the old Maples Inn in New Canaan.”

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photographs by neil landino jr.

Well-considered design goes hand in hand with water views

A couple in Darien turned to Louise Brooks of Brooks & Falotico for a house that could properly showcase their extensive art collection while also maximizing magnificent views of Long Island Sound. “The over-stucco walls and limestone floor were the starting point of the kitchen design,” says Brooks. Kitchen materials—brick, stucco ceiling, wood beams, tile and custom cabinetry—were carefully selected to complement each other and create an aged look. “Our client loved the warmth of the brick and the reclaimed beams and thought they would provide the ideal backdrop for his collection of Hudson River paintings and gorgeous Kilim rug,” she says.

For the kitchen’s main island, “we designed a beautiful custom copper hood,” says Brooks. “But the owner thought it blocked the water view and the sight lines to the fireplace wall, where some of their artwork is displayed.” Instead, a downdraft vent and a pair of Paul Ferrante light fixtures were installed to the delight of the homeowner, who now enjoys cooking with a clear view of the Sound.

Custom wood cabinets painted in eggshell had a hand-glaze applied to create an aged patina. Ann Sacks terra cotta tile complements the cabinets and the brick walls that continue down to the lower-level entertaining spaces. A second island separates the living space from the cooking area and is a convenient hideaway for a flat-screen TV, which can be raised for easy viewing. “They use this room as their primary living space,” says Brooks. “I’ve even noticed that the kitchen has become his satellite office.”

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