Design Lessons We Can Learn From 6 Stunning Kitchens

From a restored 1960s glass house to a commercial-grade kitchen built in the home of a cooking school instructor, we’re sure you’ll gain plenty of kitchen renovation ideas.

I don’t know about you, but I can never seem to get my fill of kitchen remodeling ideas. So I was excited when I came across the rooms designed by Fivecat Studio, a four-person architecture firm based in Pleasantville, New York.

Related: 9 Steps to Remodel Your Kitchen

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Every one of the firm’s projects is a close collaboration between partner Mark LePage, his wife, Annmarie McCarthy, and project managers Bjorn Slate and John Whalen.

And their close collaboration has yielded a surprisingly wide variety of design styles. From traditional rooms to a restored 1960s glass house to a commercial-grade kitchen built in the home of a cooking school instructor, I’m sure you’ll come away with dozens of new ideas after taking a look at these thoughtfully designed spaces.

Fivecat Studio | Architecture, original photo on Houzz


Mix and match materials: The homeowner was very involved in this project and selected the colors, fixtures and finishes. The open-plan space has large surfaces for prep and cleanup, and the stainless-steel appliances and open shelving allow for efficient food prep and give the room the feeling of a commercial kitchen.

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“The wood butcher-block island counter is a nice contrast to the stainless equipment and warms up the otherwise cool color palette,” says LePage.

The ceiling is a beadboard panel from Nantucket Beadboard with a custom reveal detail. It has flat moldings that cover the beadboard seams, provide scale and give the appearance of structural beams without reducing the ceiling height. The painted maple cabinets, fabricated by Crown Point Cabinetry, have very simple details.


Fivecat Studio | Architecture, original photo on Houzz


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Restore a true original: This is a complete restoration of an original St. Charles painted-steel kitchen, part of a modern glass house designed in 1969 by architect Robert Fitzpatrick.

“The cabinet boxes were repaired and refinished in place, while the metal doors and drawers were removed and restored by a local automotive body shop,” says LePage.

The original appliances were replaced with state-of-the-art ones, except for a fully functioning, vintage Sub-Zero refrigerator that got new stainless steel panels. The rubber flooring, which was not original to the house, was removed and replaced with 24-by-24-inch porcelain tiles.


Fivecat Studio | Architecture, original photo on Houzz


Choose a central location: Fivecat Studios designed this kitchen in collaboration with Bilotta Kitchens of Mamaroneck, New York. The previous kitchen was demolished and a new addition, which includes the adjacent family room and new family entrance mudroom, was constructed between the main house and the previously detached garage.

The kitchen was designed to be the central living space for a large family with young children. “Since it’s wide open to the mudroom at one end and the family room to the other, the kitchen still benefits from the natural daylight of the sun-filled adjacent spaces, even though it’s located in an interior area,” says LePage.


Fivecat Studio | Architecture, original photo on Houzz


Take back tradition: “We consider this project our favorite rescue,” says LePage. The original 1907 shingle-style house experienced a major fire in 1947. It was “modernized” at that time to reflect the then-popular international style.

The current owners purchased the house in 2007, and Fivecat constructed several small additions, resulting in a larger, more efficient space. They also added a mudroom to provide a new entrance directly from the driveway.

“Traditional details keep the design of the kitchen respectful to the home’s original style, while the up-to-date appliances, fixtures and finishes reflect the modern taste of the owners,” says LePage.


Fivecat Studio | Architecture, original photo on Houzz


Incorporate furniture and carpet elements: This is one of Fivecat Studio’s first kitchen projects, completed as part of a whole house addition/renovation. The large pantry cabinet and maple-topped island were designed to look like freestanding furniture. A custom stone tile “carpet” sits below the island, surrounded by radiant-heat marble herringbone field tile.

Related: Which Carpet Tile Suits Your Kitchen Design?

“The oversize plaster ceiling coves allow for an indirectly lit, painted ‘sky’ tray and flow continuously into the custom-fabricated range exhaust hood,” says LePage. He adds that the original 1920s Mediterranean home influenced the custom iron light fixtures and hardware.

The custom cabinetry — painted and stained maple, glazed and slightly distressed to make it appear aged — was fabricated by Winchester Woodworks.


Fivecat Studio | Architecture, original photo on Houzz


Make it professional: This modern space was built for a professional chef and designed to be flexible for multiple uses. It serves as the classroom for Marissa’s Kitchen, the owner’s private-lesson cooking school, as well as for preparing daily family meals.

“The plan of this kitchen is adapted from a true commercial kitchen, with a dedicated beverage area, a food prep area, cooking area and a hidden cleanup station. A closed-circuit video camera system allows students to see every move Marissa makes no matter where they are in the space,” says LePage.

The high-gloss bamboo cabinets allow for easy cleaning and the Fireslate counters are extra durable. Eucalyptus flooring provides an ecofriendly surface that’s easy on the feet during long cooking sessions.

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