No matter how you slice it, the Thanksgiving season means focusing on the kitchen and dining room. Here at Curbed, we started thinking about all of the dreamy food-oriented rooms we’ve featured recently, and decided to serve up some of the best for you. Whether you like to cook or entertain, you’ll find some serious style goals here.
Work hard—and look good doing it
In interior designer Lee Kleinhelter’s Atlanta home, black is more than an accent. The color is used liberally around the room on walls and cabinetry. Kleinhelter keeps the dark hue from being too heavy with texture; walls are covered with black grasscloth and cabinets are shou sugi ban, a Japanese charred wood finish. Bold gold accents also lighten things up, including bands of brass under the countertop and a luminous brass vent hood.
New Orleans, LA
The range hood is also the star in the kitchen of gallerist and art collector Arthur Roger. He has spent a lifetime renovating a compound in New Orleans’s French Quarter, and that includes this kitchen in a cottage on the his property. Roger’s philosophy is that quiet backgrounds let the art shine. Although this burnished metal hood and backsplash are accents, they don’t compete with the paintings in the room.
We featured a home in Chicago’s Wicker Park that has an elegant kitchen that’s both hardworking and under wraps. Designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects, it has no upper cabinets or tiled backsplash. Instead, it has troweled plaster walls that don’t read as “kitchen.” Storage is in the cabinets under the stainless steel countertop. The long eat-in island is wood, a finish that lives easily in the open-plan living room, dining room, and kitchen.
In California’s Wine Country, interior designers Jeff and Tray Schlarb created a kitchen that’s white, but complex. “We went for a contemporary classic look,” Jeff says. “We made things light and clean, while adding new textures and colors.” The textures in the wallpaper and the natural stone are neutral, but with a rich pattern. Jeff says it creates interest in the room, but also allows the eye to travel to the landscape through the window.
Los Angeles, CA
Caitlin Murray of Black Lacquer Design dreamed up this striking green, black, and brass color scheme before she tackled Adam Singer’s midcentury modern home in the hills. The glossy green cabinets are offset by black marble and brass accents. “To my logic, the green reads as a neutral and enhances the indoor-outdoor feeling in the house,” says Murray.
Montague Township, NJ
When furniture designer Ben Erickson created this kitchen in a midcentury cottage in New Jersey, he made an island that’s beautiful and unconventional. The prep and eating space is a modified century-old piano. “When I bought it, I had no idea what I would do with it. But I loved the wood grain and sculptural legs,” he says. “It just happened to be the perfect scale and size for the kitchen island.”
Los Angeles, CA
In these compact kitchens, less is more
When architects Paul Rice and Ward Welch remodeled their small Hamptons home, they resisted the urge to create a large kitchen. They kept the space compact, but installed high-end, high-performance appliances. For a dose of style, they finished the space off with an oversize paper lantern over the dining room table.
When architect Sarah Zames of General Assembly remodeled a Brooklyn condo in the Gowanus neighborhood, she found herself with a puzzle-like problem: How to fit a kitchen in an open plan and around rustic beams left over from the days when the building was a jute factory? She solved the problem by making the cooking space read as a “smooth box.” The white oak cabinets have no hardware and the eat-in peninsula is outfitted with a series of clutter-hiding cubbies. “There’s one that’s just the right width for a roll of paper towels, spices we use often, dish soap, and sponges,” says the designer.
St. Helena, CA
Hiding the clutter is the purpose of the bumped-up eating counter in a St. Helena, California kitchen belonging to designer Jay Jeffers and creative director Michael Purdy. The stepped-up design hides the cooking area, so no one can see how the sausage is made—so to speak.
New York, NY
Architect Denise Lee faced a similar problem in a small New York City apartment that featured concrete pillars and an angular layout. She wrapped the kitchen cabinets around the geometric space and the pillar. The cabinets feature sliding doors, which can hide food storage but also highlight plates and servingware. A small shelf in the backsplash keeps cooking spices and frequently used items close at hand.
It’s shelves that elevate the small kitchen Natto Balladares’s studio apartment in Philadelphia. Balladares is a men’s concept designer for Urban Outfitters, and he put a lot of effort into using every square inch of the 600-square-foot space. That includes shelves above the range that display his collection of servingware and accessories.
Designers at bright designlab used brawnier shelves in client Jesse Leyva’s Portland, Oregon kitchen. These rustic wood shelves store heavier plates, bowls, and glasses. Their live-finish brass accents (they will age and patina over time) add another organic element to the space.
Los Angeles, CA
This midcentury home in Los Angeles shows the beauty of vintage materials. Bright colors aren’t the first choice for owner Erik Allen or designer Leanne Ford. When Allen moved in, he asked Ford if the kitchen finishes could be erased. Her response: Not so fast. “I thought it best not to fight it. This is an older home, and the original elements add interest and personality,” she says. “I admit, those are not the colors I am usually drawn to. I thought if we just painted the walls white then the counters, floors, and wood elements would shine.”
Hudson Valley, NY
When photographer and frequent Curbed contributor Chris Mottalini remodeled a Hudson Valley house for his family, the kitchen was the first order of business. EB Joinery crafted cabinets for the space, complete with open shelving in an awkward corner space.
Bridie Picot, founder of Thing Industries, purchased a prefab home from Catskill Farms in Narrowsburg, New York. It came with a petite kitchen that relies on stainless steel cabinets that blend in with the stainless steel appliances for a uniform look.
Musician Zena Carlota’s Oakland, California kitchen utilizes a vintage stove to cook up style. The piece has an exposed duct, but that just adds a dash of industrial charm.
Rajiv Fernandez has a small home in Brooklyn, but that doesn’t mean he skimped on style. The architect and designer imbued his condo’s petite kitchen with color and a rich material mix. He painted the cabinets a dark gray (Midnight Oil by Benjamin Moore) and crafted the cabinets that cover the refrigerator and pantry from unvarnished wood. The countertops and backsplash are marble.
Have a seat at the stylish table
In their Healdsburg, California home, designers Jeff and Tray Schlarb didn’t let the original rustic beams completely dictate the style of the home. The designers outfitted the room with a sophisticated wallcovering mix (a modern toile on the top, plaid below the wainscoting line) and luxurious leather chairs. A traditional rug and velvet curtains soften the mix.
Lake Forest, IL
When architect Meagan Beidler was furnishing the Frank Lloyd-designed home she restored for her family, she chose not to fight the architecture. In this window-lined dining room, the table is simple and the background is the star.
Los Angeles, CA
For fashion designer Marcus Austin-Paglialonga, living with the plain light fixtures and white walls of his apartment wasn’t an option. He transformed his home, including the dining room, with new fixtures, color, and wallpaper. In the dining area, a vividly patterned removable wallpaper brings drama to the space.
San Francisco, CA
Designer George McCalman wanted options in his dining room, so he commissioned two tables from friend and furniture designer Alexis Moran. Having the duo allows him to set up multiple seating configurations and to dedicate one table to work and the other to eating.
San Diego, CA
Ashley and Collin Gleason remodeled this historic house in Philadelphia and gave the dining room tradition with a twist by including a couple of vintage portraits. The portraits give the room an historic note, but they were joined to the couple by auction, not birth. “Everyone assumes they are our relatives,” says Ashley.