Kitchens on the Cutting Edge

Modern is on the menu for this quartet of stunning contemporary kitchens.

Kitchens On The Cutting Edge

What’s cooking in kitchen design trends?

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For some, modern is on the menu.

A look at 4 cool kitchens.

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By Laurie Yarnell


Drama Design:

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                   An Architect’s Own Home

What happens when an architect/contractor/designer redoes his own kitchen? Both opportunities (all that unfettered talent) and challenges (so many choices!) abound. Add in the very specific functional requirements of his pastry-chef wife who, unlike her husband, is not a fan of contemporary design, and the fun begins.


The kitchen in James and Thea Millers’ 1986 White Plains contemporary house is the fifth one James has redesigned for his family; the previous four each sported a traditional look. “I like contemporary,” he says, “but my wife was unfamiliar with it. So I went as far contemporary as I could while still being able to stay married.” The original kitchen was 12-by-20 feet; an addition of 170 square feet almost doubled its size.


“My goal was to visually achieve the biggest bang for the buck,” says Miller. So he created a unique quarter-circle room shape to bring the “outlying corners closer in,” resulting in a more user-friendly layout. In this space, he juxtaposed flowing curves (the countertops and backsplashes) and sharp angles (a twin skylight, raised ceiling, and island edges), and made liberal use of stainless steel (the Sub-Zero, Viking, and Fisher & Paykel appliances are all stainless steel, as is the backsplash).


The new kitchen features a minimal amount of color, mostly whites and grayish greens: the walls are pure white; the wooden cabinets (which Miller designed himself) are high-gloss white; the marble countertop from Walker Zanger in Mount Vernon is green; and the ceramic floor tile from Greenwich Tile is grayish green. 


The result? An edgy, high-tech space with lots of custom, quirky details, a room that functions equally well as a home kitchen, a baking-and-demonstration space, and a showcase for the talents of the designer (whose marriage fortunately survived happily ever after).


Bento-Box Beauty:

                 An Asian Aesthetic


When the Venezia familydecided to expand and renovate the kitchen of their Colonial home in Mamaroneck, they wanted the room to have an Asian flair. After all, the family had lived in Japan for seven years and fell in love with the serene, clean-lined, and uncluttered look of many Japanese homes. The resulting new 17-by-21-foot soothing oasis bears little resemblance to the original 6-by-10-foot boxy space.


The new look, the work of kitchen designer Rita Luisa Garces of Bilotta Kitchens of Westchester and Manhattan and interior designer Adrianna Mateo

of Larchmont, is simple—and very Japanese. “Sensitivity to nature is important in Asian culture,” explains homeowner Marie Venezia, executive director of the Sheldrake Environmental Center in Larchmont. “We wanted to bring the outside in.” This was accomplished in part by replacing upper cabinets with more windows to allow for plenty of natural light and by choosing nature-inspired accent colors, like the white of snow and the brick-red of autumn, as evidenced by warm-toned hand-woven Tibetan rugs, along with the dark reddish-brown oak of the Artcraft Kitchens cabinets and of the hardwood floors.


“Each single drawer and every inch of space has a function and a purpose,” Mateo explains, a feat achieved by inventorying the family’s every kitchen appliance, cooking implement, and houseware item prior to designing the space. The result? A meticulously executed bento box-like work of art, featuring a place for everything, and everything in its place.


Out of the Blue:

                 Color It Contemporary


The design scheme for this striking kitchen came literally out of the blue. The clients, big

fans of modern architecture, wanted to restore, update, and expand the kitchen of their

mid-century ranch in North Stamford, CT. They weren’t afraid of color, notes kitchen

designer Kristin King, co-owner of Studio Snaidero in Greenwich, CT. “When they saw

these Italian handcrafted blue cabinets in our showroom, they fell in love with them. The

design scheme developed from that color choice.”


“The dramatic blue color succeeds in imparting a light and airy feeling to the space while clearly conveying an ultra-contemporary aesthetic,” says King. “Use of color is an important element of the contemporary look; it’s been used for a long time in Europe,  here in America, we’re about five years behind the trend.” Two shades of gray complete the color palette: a lighter shade used on the walls and a darker, slate color in the porcelin floor tile. Gray was chosen to subdue the high-shine effect of the metallic paint finish, the Viking Designer Series stainless steel appliances, and the frosted-glass cabinets.


Although the newly renovated kitchen has elements that harken back to an earlier, modern ’50s look, many contemporary 21st-century twists keep it from looking anything but frozen in time. “The fitted look of the cabinetry all the way up to the ceiling is in keeping with a mid-century modern aesthetic,” says King. “But the materials serve to update it”—materials such as Italian Bisazza tiles for the backsplash and a combination of honed Carerra marble and poured concrete used in the countertops. One additional, high-tech treat: an entertainment “ice box” with TV, DVD, Internet access, radio, and CD capabilities; a flip-down screen makes it easy to follow cooking shows or look up recipes online.


Alas, soon after the redesign was completed, the home changed hands. The new owner, however, particularly appreciates his new kitchen; he’s an executive chef at a local restaurant. He requested anonymity.


Chic & Sophisticated:

                An All-Grown Up Look


The first—and only—owner of a contemporary home in northern Westchester had designed her original kitchen at the tender age of 23. Two decades later, she and her family, which today includes two teenagers, had outgrown its dated white Formica counters and ceramic-tile floors. Besides, other areas of the house had been redesigned and updated over the years.  


The new kitchen, designed by Bedford architect Carol J. W. Kurth and implemented by Alice Hayes of Kitchens by Deane in Stamford, CT, “is truly a gem of quality workmanship and materials, more in keeping with the rest of the home,” says Kurth. The cornerstone of its updated look is the exquisite custom cabinets by Premier Custom Built of New Holland, PA, which are made of an exotic ribbon mahogany wood that is also used on the dramatic lighting canopy over the island. The vertical-ribbon pattern of the wood is echoed in the brushed stainless steel of the Sub-Zero and Miele appliances. Other design features include a wide-plank jara wood floor and black granite (sandblasted for the backsplash but honed for the countertops).


The new space is “very warm and inviting, but still clean-looking,” says the homeowner. “There is no glass and no open shelves. It almost has a Zen-like feeling.”


Captions:  (Previous page): A round table, made of three-quarter-inch-thick, acid-washed, low-iron translucent glass, is surrounded by white molded chairs, and an ancillary island with a stainless-steel pedestal is paired with sleek white leather-and-steel barstools.

(Below): The designer created a unique quarte-cricle shape to bring outlying corners closer in.


(Above): The natural, Zen-like feel of this kitchen is achieved by using warm oak in the wood floors and Artkraft Kitchens cabinets.


Subdued, slate-gray floor tiles from Greenwich Tile, black island stools from The Door Store, and a light-gray backsplash using tiles from Italy complement the high-impact shine of Studio Snaidero’s bright-blue, Italian cabinets and the stainless steel Viking Designer Series appliances.


(Right): The vertical-ribbon motif of this kitchen is created by the custom mahogany cabinets from Premier Custom Built and echoed in the wideplank jara wood floors and the brushed stainless steel of the Sub-Zero and Miele appliances.

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