March 5, 2012
Ask Los Angeles-based designer Windsor Smith how the kitchen fits into today’s lifestyle and she’s quick to respond with a well-considered philosophy. “I have been very involved with building houses for my clients and I started coming up with new ideas about how we live and how old design didn’t work in the same way,” said Smith. “The size of rooms needed to change. We don’t want big dining rooms; we want big kitchens.”
Smith, who originally built the 8,000-sq.-ft. Los Angeles home on spec as an investment property, illustrated her ideas relating to kitchen design by creating a gracious space that achieves the tricky balance of being both elegant and welcoming. When Smith was approached by Veranda magazine with the idea of using the property as a showcase house, she welcomed the opportunity and, in collaboration with a team of designers, created a luxury home for today’s modern family.
Smith emphasizes that she sees the kitchen as the place “everyone is going to end-up in all night.” In other words, it’s become the new family living room. And while the kitchen she created has been elevated to match the rest of the house, Smith points out that the design doesn’t “confuse the kitchen for another room. Instead it’s making it into this great space that inspires people to cook and entertain in a more intimate way. I just think you have a different conversation in the kitchen than you would at a dining room table, which can be more formal.”
When selecting the soothing color palette, Smith looked to nature for inspiration. “The kitchen overlooks the yard, and on the property are protected oaks and a sycamore,” said Smith. “I took the color of the bark off the trees and brought that into the cabinetry. I was thinking that it would flow beautifully with the landscape and allow your eye to move through to the outside.” The color was also selected in part for its harmonious coordination with the stainless steel and nickel accents in the kitchen. While Smith admits that she has an affinity toward white kitchens, she wanted this space to look as though it had been there for many years, and the gray tone offered more age and weight.
The kitchen’s mix of cabinetry styles—from glass paneled doors to open shelving to solid wood—adds an eclectic feel to the kitchen, while also providing visual interest. Smith, however, also had another intent in mind—to reduce the amount of clutter that can accumulate in the kitchen. “I thought if we have less cabinetry and more open spaces, we wouldn’t end up with things like 30 Tupperware containers without lids,” said Smith. She felt that the open cabinetry would simplify people’s lives by forcing them to display items they love and use. The kitchen also includes a large hanging pot rack that reduces the amount of dedicated storage space needed for oversized items.
The kitchen isn’t all about looks though. Outfitted with a fleet of appliances, including a pizza oven, wine columns and a built-in rotisserie, it’s a kitchen that’s meant to be used. “The appliances really made the kitchen in so many ways,” said Smith. “It’s one thing to have a kitchen that looks great, but another thing to have a kitchen that has this level of quality in the appliances.”
Smith also mapped out the best way to use a kitchen and specified three sink areas to accommodate the various functions needed to make the space work. With one sink designated for prep, another for dishes and the third for glasses, it reduces the potential for clutter, mess and an overflowing sink. Near the drink station, Smith positioned an espresso maker, wine columns, a purified water faucet and a dishwasher. “Having that set-up really organizes you,” said Smith. “Because appliances are so specific now you can do that. Twenty years ago it was more generic, you had to do the triangle in the kitchen and it wasn’t as ergonomic. If you’re entertaining in the kitchen, everything is contained and has a logical place.”
Whether cooking a small, intimate meal for family or entertaining for a large group, it’s a kitchen that everyone will be drawn to.
Designer: Windsor Smith, Los Angeles, CA, Windsor Smith Home; Manufacturers:
Hardware: The Golden Lion;
Refrigerator/Dishwashers/Wine Columns/Espresso Maker: Gaggenau;
Range/Vent Hood/Pizza Oven/Rotisserie: La Cornue;
Flooring: Exquisite Surfaces;
Pendant Lights: Baker; Paint: Benjamin Moore