“I’m a photographer, and my husband is a typographer,” says homeowner Annie Schlechter, “so we loved the idea of making a graphic statement.” Luckily, that aim fit within the budget for their New York City kitchen: Plywood cabinets faced with Formica give the look of lacquer without the steep price tag. “The hidden bonus is their durability,” she says. “They can handle anything.”
Display What's Pretty, Hide What's Not
A wall separating the dining room was removed to make the kitchen feel bigger. To maximize the openness and sight lines, there are two under-counter refrigerators on one side of the peninsula and, on the other, a display shelf for nice carafes, glasses, and barware. “Everything else is behind doors,” she says. "You’d be surprised what we can fit behind just a few closed cabinets.”
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Go for the Bold
Inspired by photos of a kitchen by Italian architect Gio Ponte, Annie Schlechter and her husband, Russell Maret (working with architect Joe Serrins), chose white Corian counters, yellow and white laminate cabinets, a shiny red stove, and an 8-foot backsplash of cobalt penny tiles. “It added another fun, graphic element,” says Annie. “A friend told us the room looked like a Lichtenstein, and that made us happy.”
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This Venetian material has a party going on under its surface: confetti-like chips of marble, glass, granite, or quartz embedded in cement. Sealed terrazzo is practically impossible to damage, since it won’t stain, chip, or scuff; also, machine polishing can give even a decades-old surface brand-new luster. Factor in all the potential base and chip combinations, and you’ve got hundreds of happy ways to customize a floor.
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The founder of this magazine has the same approach for all spaces she works in. She maximizes every square inch. Case in point: This kitchen in a guesthouse on her farm in Bedford. “This is where I house my collection of late-19th-century yellowware mixing bowls,” Martha says. “Because they’re so beautiful, they double as decor, but make no mistake -- everything in here gets used.”
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Adhere to a Design Theme
Wanting a cheerful, inviting farmhouse feel, Martha started with Shaker-esque cabinetry, which lends a classic look (and inspired her Maidstone line of Martha Stewart Living Kitchens at the Home Depot). The creamy yellow paint makes this kitchen seem sunny even on gray days.
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Keep Everything in Open View
Glass-front cabinets and open shelving make it easy to find what you need, and because everything is on display, organization is encouraged. Pots hang from a copper rack by the stove, whisks and wooden spoons are on a shelf above it, and bowls of salt and pepper are nearby for seasoning.
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Tools Within Reach
A collection of rolling pins in various styles means Martha always has the right tool on hand for baking projects.
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Double Up on Essentials
Your kitchen should be as efficient as you are -- which is why Martha thought about the things she uses most and made sure she had more than one, if necessary. A second sink, wall oven, food processor, and stand mixer allow Martha to prepare multiple dishes simultaneously.
Choose the Right Surfaces
A large center island provides plenty of work space. Black soapstone countertops bring a more modern note, and the hardworking natural material doesn’t stain and can even take the heat of a pan straight out of the oven. The faux-bois ceramic-tile floor offers Ghenghis Khan a cool spot for observing.
Whiteware small mixing bowl; large mixing bowl; and 10" quiche dish; Martha Stewart Collection, from macys.com.
“I called it my ‘cooking prison,’ ” says homeowner C.W. Mitchell of the former kitchen in his East Hampton, New York, house. “It had this bizarre three-quarter wall, which made it claustrophobic.” A weekend renovation warrior, C.W. knocked down this “much-despised” partition and turned the dining room into a sitting area/family room. The resulting open space means goodbye lockdown, hello loved ones and lawn views.
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Newer homes often utilize the “open concept” floor plan, where the kitchen, dining area, and family room seem to flow together. Though C.W. Mitchell’s house was built a century ago, he wanted to effect that same casual melding of spaces to accommodate his and his wife’s brood (two kids and counting). After removing a partition and the wall between the family and dining rooms, he placed stools along the island and put a sofa and armchairs where a breakfast table might otherwise go.
Pillows, gracioushome.com. Aqua 2 fabric (#7230-03), by Quadrille, from Design Professionals, 212-759-6894 (to the trade only).
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Accessorize with Color
Predominantly crisp and white, and bathed in sunlight, the room could appear antiseptic. But a collection of brightly colored glasses, mugs, trays, and cookware enlivens the overall look.
Rautasanky mugs without handles, by Marimekko, from crateandbarrel.com.
Photography: Annie Schlechter
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An example of the bright trays used to corral kitchen tools.
Considering he’s an architect and interior designer, the possibilities were endless when homeowner Steven Gambrel set out to transform a boiler room in his home in New York’s Long Island. Inspired by the kitchen in the film "Gosford Park," he selected well-worn reclaimed materials evocative of that era (1930s England) and created a serene, genteel spot ideal for making fanciful meals for his frequent guests.
Artfully Mix New and Vintage
The modern wall tile meshes with the other elements in the room, since Steven designed and had fabricated a product that wasn’t overly polished or processed. A glaze finish that highlights surface irregularities also helps it look aged.
With stone floors and ceramic tile walls, Steven was careful when choosing the material that would hover overhead. “I created a wooden-plank ceiling, because I didn’t think something lightweight such as plaster would look proper,” he says.
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Use Decor Sparingly
Other than containing a few topiaries, Steven Gambrel’s kitchen is relatively adornment-free. “Don’t fall into the trap of filling your counters with purely decorative items,” he warns. “Only display those things you actually use on a daily basis.” Steven’s collection of vessels and dinnerware, above, looks artful, but it’s constantly being used -- he cooks and entertains almost every weekend.
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Consider an Unexpected Window
While one set of windows overlooks the water, Steven broke through an interior wall to install an extra set, shown here. They open onto a hallway, but that hallway has windows that look out on his front yard. The result is additional light, as well as a pleasant green view.
Work with Mother Nature
The floor stone was reclaimed from a Tennessee house by architect Philip Johnson. Each slab boasts its own organic pattern; Steven took this into account when placing them.
Finding an eat-in kitchen with an open floor plan inside an 1850s New York City townhouse is surprising -- until you learn the owner is an architect. When drawing up plans for the hub of his young family’s home, homeowner Cary Tamarkin had in mind a space that would serve many purposes. “It’s not strictly a kitchen,” he notes. “We think of it as more a room that you just happen to be able to cook in.” It’s where the kids do homework, and where family and friends linger after dinner.
Be Practical When Selecting Furniture
“When we built this kitchen, we had two young kids,” Cary Tamarkin says. While the rest of the space is sleek and polished, when it came time to pick a table, he opted for a vintage French country model; he knew the wear and tear his children provided would only increase its charm.
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Think Vertically When It Comes to Storage
To keep the space looking sleek and feeling open, overhead cabinets were nixed in favor of a five-section, floor-to-ceiling cabinet unit, below. Pots, pans, and pantry essentials are housed behind its doors, and a small desk with shelves for cookbooks and vases was installed behind one panel.
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Use Functional Objects as Decor
Create a tableau of kitchenware, ceramics, and art. You will smile every time you reach for the pepper mill.
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The built-in clock looks like a piece of art but does its job.
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Capitalize on Views and Maximize Light
“In Manhattan, access to sun is a luxury,” says Cary. A wall of steel windows looks out onto a sun-drenched garden.
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Calm and Collected
Milk glass cabinets make the most of the plentiful natural light in this kitchen space, while still keeping dishes obscured. Only the most frequently used items are kept out on the marble counters.
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If a countrified kitchen is what you crave, look to rustic details such as reclaimed appliances and pastoral hues for a peaceful, functional space.