October 8, 2021
When well-known food bloggers Josh and Maria Lichty had outgrown their kitchen and their house, they called on Salt Lake City-based design-build firm The Fox Group to help make them a new one. The digitally savvy couple found the firm on Instagram and enlisted Cara and Tom Fox to take the project from planning stage to completion, playing an important role in vision and decision making throughout the process.
In the 4,500-sq.-ft. new-build home, one space held heightened importance – the kitchen. It would be the site for preparing, cooking and photographing all the recipes for the clients’ Two Peas & Their Pod blog. As both the family kitchen and the working kitchen, the space had to be functional and livable.
Photo Ops and Work-from-Home Functionality
The clients were looking for a classic, timeless kitchen with a bit of modern flair. To make it a fit for their blog, it needed to be fresh, clean and not stuffy.
“They wanted a lot of photo opportunities,” said Cara, owner and lead designer of The Fox Group. “Every background had to be photo ready, well thought out and planned to let the food be the star.”
The Foxes proposed a neutral palette with white and wood tones to provide a clean backdrop for the colorful dishes the bloggers would prepare and capture. In addition to boasting a photogenic appearance, the kitchen needed to work hard. The Fox Group designed a space with double the usual amenities — two islands, two refrigerators, two wall ovens and two dishwashers. All appliances were chosen from KitchenAid because the brand is a blog sponsor.
Working It All In
The flow of the workspace received significant attention, and Cara and Tom kept all walkways to a generous 3.5 feet. The two islands provide so much counterspace that multiple people can work in the kitchen at once, and each island has its own sink.
In one island, the sink is centralized and sits across from the six-burner cooktop. With counterspace on either side, the cooktop is surrounded by storage and a nearby paneled refrigerator that keeps the look of the wall clean and consistent. The same island features a wood-block countertop at one end, additional storage, two paneled dishwashers and a beverage cooler.
The second island, identical in size, has a different layout with a smaller sink at one end and an area for seating along one side. The workspaces are functional but beautiful at the same time, according to Cara.
“The double islands are the biggest wow factor in the space,” she said. “They needed room for the two of them to work in the kitchen but also have it serve as their family kitchen. There are a lot of cabinets and storage, so everything they use as props for the blog is on hand but not out.”
Classic Kitchen & Playful Pantry
For the ideal classic backdrop, the designers chose custom Shaker-style cabinets. Cara and Tom worked closely with their client Josh on the layout, and he was involved in decisions about creating spaces for specific items.
To keep the white cabinets, white quartz countertops, white subway tile and paneled or stainless-steel appliances from looking cold, the designers brought in wood elements.
The flooring is a cozy white oak with a natural matte finish, while above, ebony-stained oak beams bring warmth to the space and planks between them add interest. Iron and brass light fixtures create contrast, and leather barstools infuse a bit of modern style.
“The look has a timeless feel,” said Cara. “Everything about it is classic.”
Situated past the wall ovens and accessible through a barn door bearing the name of the blog, the pantry offers more storage and a place for food styling. It features the same clean look and white cabinets but incorporates a dose of fun.
Floating shelves provide storage for small appliances and a colorful display of KitchenAid mixers. Open shelves make it easy to view and retrieve items, while visually breaking up the all-white cabinetry.
Although not typical, this work-from-home kitchen meets the needs of the homeowners. The Fox Group achieved success by finding out from their clients how their life – and therefore their home – needed to function.
“When the client knows and is specific, it helps everyone be satisfied and happy with the end product,” said Cara. “The more you can take their need for function and add your beauty and style, you’ll be able to achieve both goals.”
And one big surprise – now that new clients have seen the dynamic double-island layout, they want it too!
– By Carrie Whitney
Designers: Cara and Tom Fox, Owners, The Fox Group
Photographer: Scott Davis
Barn Door & Hardware: Custom
Bar Stools: Wayfair
Cabinet Paint: Sherwin-Williams
Cabinet Hardware: Emtek
Cabinets & Hood: Custom by Benjamin Blackwelder
Faucets & Sinks: Kohler
Flooring: White oak
Lighting: Hinkley Lighting