When it comes to design, balancing an ideal aesthetic with the needs of a young family can be challenging. (Toast crumbs, anyone?) For a busy family of five in Scarsdale, the dream was for a modern and bright kitchen that’s also durable and easy to manage.
“The family wanted something sleek and shiny but not too formal or precious,” says designer Lisa Tessler of Scarsdale’s Link Interiors. “It needed to be a workhorse that could alternately be considered dressed up or dressed down. They wanted a place for the kids and their friends to gather.”
The gleaming, modern, white kitchen needed to withstand the inevitable shoe-banging, snack-grabbing, sauce-spilling realities of life in a busy household.
“It’s really about knowing your client,” says Tessler of the couple, both Westchester doctors with three active children. Tessler had already begun to transform the family’s Colonial in Scarsdale (which was initially much darker) by tackling the entire first floor, one room at a time. “We’ve gone room by room and refreshed it in a modern, bright way,” says Tessler. “With repeat clients, you build trust, and you build a relationship. This client has a busy family and a busy life. But she also loves her little bit of sparkle.”
Tessler brought in the sparkle, with two oblong, statement-making pendants over the island. “They’re light, not cumbersome, with a touch of glam,” says Tessler. The chrome in the cantilevered stools also ups the beauty and recessed toe kicks were fashioned in stainless steel to tie it all in.
To add a subtle pop of color, the fabric, lighting, and stools are counterbalanced with a backsplash of Polisandro Blu marble, which has an organic feel in the grain, and subtle colors of blueish-gray, with some coppery rust running through.
“It’s a white kitchen with a twist,” says Tessler, whose clever juxtaposition of modern, glossy cabinetry and white, glass countertops with the more rustic, approachable touch of knotted paneling serves to avoid a look of austerity and helps lend the warmth the family wanted in the heart of the home.
Rustic wood panels disguise the refrigerator and freezer. To add contrast, the wall of paneling is punctuated by two stainless steel tambour doors that push up into the cabinetry and perform as large appliance garages that house the family’s snacks, as well as the toaster and coffee maker.
To keep things streamlined, Tessler chose integrated, channeled hardware for the cabinetry instead of visible hardware and flanked either side of the sink with milky-glass upper cabinets that have a sheen and hide storage items. Open shelving was saved for display items at the top and lined with the same wooden paneling, providing a more dramatic backdrop for the family’s accessories.
“The magnetic-glass whiteboard closest to the mudroom offers a spot for family members to leave messages for each other while also serving as a nook for the daily mail collection,” says Tessler.
The two elements of white and wood are also combined on the island, where Tessler smartly placed the paneling in front of the stools, an area that might be scuffed by shoes.
Materials make the difference in the attempt to preserve perfection when considering everyday wear and tear.
The custom stool cushions are covered in vinyl from Knoll Textiles. They’re completely wipeable, as are the Eames molded-plastic side chairs, from Design Within Reach.
The original kitchen had wood floors throughout. Tessler replaced them with large-format porcelain tiles that lend themselves to easy maintenance of the highly trafficked area. A gray shade was chosen to conceal any day-to-day dirt and distinguishes the kitchen as a separate space from the rest of the home, giving the clients what they need without sacrificing what they love.
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Roman Shade Covering Fabric