People ask us all the time, “What’s your favorite kitchen?” We can’t answer that question; it would be akin to asking you to choose your favorite child! Each of your kids is unique, and you love them all equally. So too with our designs!
STOP!!!! (Cue the sound of screeching brakes.) You might not be willing to admit to that dirty little secret, but we’re about to pull back the curtain on our pet projects and why we love them so much.
For some designers, their favorite kitchens are the ones that speak to their own personal sense of style, and this is definitely the case for designer David Arnoff. David loves to employ a design vocabulary consisting of traditional elements, which is why he’s so fond of this large kitchen that’s bathed in natural light. No, you didn’t just time-warp back into the 19th century! This kitchen is a “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (a 1967 film reference, for those millennials out there) dressed in period garb. At a time when so many customers are gravitating towards more contemporary styles, this design stands in unapologetic defiance of that trend. It’s filled with plenty of details that evoke a bygone era without appearing dated.
David took a cue from other areas of the house containing beadboard wainscoting and repeated this on the island and on the insides of the glass wall cabinets. Other classic components in this timeless concept include toe kick valances with arched cutouts, a bumped-out sink cabinet, paneled appliances, an elaborate multi-piece top crown treatment, and a custom metal hood. The center island is massive, with enough real estate for a second sink and dishwasher and abundant seating, all without sacrificing work surface. Although this was an existing space (not an addition), David totally reworked the floor plan, resulting in greater efficiency and function with a ton more storage.
There’s no mistaking that this is a present-day interpretation of an old-time kitchen when you see the state-of the art appliance suite, complete with a steam oven and a 48” range. And all those stacked glass cabinets are brightly illuminated with the latest in LED lighting technology. David Arnoff’s favorite kitchen is truly a time-honored and elegant creation!
Another factor cited by several designers for their preferential picks is that the client was looking for something different and out of the box. Sure, we’ll happily design that classic white kitchen for you, but when you express a desire to deviate from the norm, we’re ecstatic. Senior designers Jeff Eakley and Paula Greer are both in agreement on that point.
Jeff’s favorite kitchen was one he worked on for an interior designer with whom he’s collaborated for many years on other clients’ projects. Because this customer, Andrew Petronio of KA Designs, was in the design trade, he was eager to create a unique space for his own home. The loft-style apartment afforded the perfect opportunity to impart an industrial feeling to the room. To this end, Jeff used both rich dark wood as well as metal for the cabinets.
He took advantage of the high ceilings by stacking the wall cabinets, and then incorporated the more traditional element of a library ladder to allow for easy access to the upper level.
The other unusual feature in this kitchen is the center table. Instead of an island that yields to the conventional wisdom of including storage with the seating area, this is a dedicated table at counter height with enough room to host eight or more people for dinner. Without the normally requisite cabinetry in the island, it reads like a dining room table, with clear sight lines from living room to kitchen. Not only was this an enjoyable project for Jeff to work on, but it resulted in a one-of-a kind, personalized space that showcased the skills of both Jeff Eakley and the homeowner/interior designer.
Paula Greer was specifically charged by her clients to NOT give them a white kitchen. (Yes, please!) They were brave enough to mix colors, wood species and materials, providing a richly textured and interesting space. Because their list of must-have appliances was fairly large relative to the size of the room, it was a challenge to plan the space with both function and aesthetics in mind.
But Paula succeeded beautifully. Take particular note of how she placed the tall wine cooler facing sideways, then turned the corner with open shelving set flush with the paneled refrigerator.
But her favorite part of her favorite kitchen? The wood top at the end of the island opposite the range. With its prep sink and additional storage below, it completes this gorgeous space for a fun couple that loves to cook!
But there’s more than one way to float our creative boats, and senior designer Randy O’Kane tells us that she becomes energized by the collaborative process. It was artistic synergy that made this client and her bathroom project so special to Randy. And it wasn’t just one bathroom: it was a master bath and hall bath, both done simultaneously. Randy and her client created the vision for both rooms together, and then chipped away at gathering all the materials, one by one. The combination of porcelain tiles, ceramic tiles and natural stone all work together to provide interesting texture, while still keeping the color palette clean and soothing. For a punch of contrast against the lighter colored walls, floors and countertops, cabinetry was chosen in both rift-cut oak with an ebonized finish, as well as in walnut-look laminate.
Randy further explored the juxtaposition of disparate materials by pairing sleek polished man-made countertops with more rustic wood ceiling beams. And since lighting plays such an important role in successful bathroom design, Randy and her client devoted a great deal of attention to this particular feature. The starting point for inspiration was the decision to re-use the client’s existing brass pendant, which married so well with the unique brass wall sconces. Trimless recessed ceiling lights provided additional ambient light in the master bath, while industrial Edison bulbs fit the bill in the hall bath.
And just in case you’re still wondering if you can mix metals in your project, notice how the matte black and polished nickel plumbing fixtures give another nod to the industrial. The collaboration between Randy and her client even continued beyond where most designer-client relationships conclude: it included the selection of accessories, artwork, and ladder shelving! These two women love working together, and it definitely shows in the end results!
Designer Peter Bittner doesn’t really have a favorite kitchen. When he reflects back on his extensive career, he recognizes that design trends come and go. What he may have loved ten years ago might now seem woefully archaic. But last year Peter heard a customer tell him what every designer dreams of hearing: “We want you to design what you really like”. And what gets Peter jazzed these days are clean, crisp lines and classic shapes. He prefers a full-overlay, frameless cabinet in the perennially fashionable Shaker style with flat slab drawer fronts. And yes, Peter is still in love with white, which he applies liberally on cabinets, countertops and subway tile backsplashes, all set atop a warm herringbone-shaped floor in this particular kitchen.
Given the opportunity, he will carry through with his pared down aesthetic by continuing the cabinetry onto the refrigerator and dishwasher. Simple drum-shaped pendants in white with stainless steel trim complete the look and complement the stainless-steel ovens and cooktop. And, of course, his ideal kitchen has an island generous enough to sit and enjoy a casual meal or to prepare a huge holiday feast.
But in the end, what Peter really loves is being able to envision the final project, when everything is installed and all the details are in place; to anticipate how the client will use the space; and, ultimately, to design a room that’s both beautiful to look at and a pleasure to use.
So we’ve now revealed some of our most prized projects. And that whole thing about not having a favorite child? Don’t worry – your secret’s safe with us!
This post was written by senior designer, Paulette Gambacorta. Paulette has been designing kitchens with Bilotta for over 25 years.