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|Unhampered by a client's budget, designers show off in their show houses.|
A combination of interior design, entertainment, and charity benefit, the designer show house is one of the most anticipated events in the design industry. Unencumbered by a client's budget or taste level, show house designers feel free to experiment and create their own personal design statements. All this free-floating creativity works especially well in the kitchen, a room that not only lends itself to new technology but also often includes a dining area, home office or media center. If you're looking for a mix of unusual, as well as practical, decorating ideas check out this collection of show house kitchens.
Designer Barbara Ostrom expanded the original area of a Southampton, N.Y. show house kitchen (above & right) to include a family/dining room. Instead of the conventional work island, snack counter and separate dining table and chairs, Ostrom created a series of connecting elements cleverly placed to visually break up the room and at the same time personalize the space. Each area is designed to serve a specific function; a storage/prep island opposite the range connects to a glass-top breakfast counter designed to gently curve around the half round upholstered banquette. Upholstered in a bright blue and yellow awning stripe, the custom-built banquette also serves as a room divider and storage. The overhead patterns of the flat beams, ceiling fan and light fixture add to the vibrant mix of geometric shapes that dominate the room. The kitchen's focal point is the Viking professional-style range, framed in an arched alcove with a custom hood and hand-painted tiles. Pale-hued walls and off-white custom cabinets offer a neutral background for this combination of classical architecture and laid-back Palm Beach ambiance.
Set in a loft environment, this kitchen was designed for the "Idea House" located in the San Francisco Design Center by designers Joe Ruggiero and Pamela Baird. In a soft contemporary style that combines high tech design with classical elements the designers chose a scheme of warm gray starting with the dove gray finish on the custom cabinets - an interesting yet unusual color choice for a kitchen. Wall cabinets were eliminated in order to create the illusion of space. To make up for loss of storage space the large center island was designed with extra open and closed storage. Narrow shelves line the walls providing both display and sculptural interest. The overall look is one of furnishings rather than utility boxes, a clever mix of wood, stone and stainless steel. A less is more approach to decoration is apparent in the island's polished slate counter that features a subtle twig pattern etched into each corner. For the overhead lighting, the designers chose a hand-blown glass light fixture in the shape of a milk bottle. The result is that of a soft industrial style that is also refreshingly contemporary.
Designed by Gail Green for New York's Kips Bay Show House, this kitchen evokes the grandeur of a 1920s Art Deco ocean liner. Originally composed of one large and three smaller adjacent rooms, the space was reorganized to include a full prep area island, dining alcove, media center, serving counters and wet bar. The challenge was to integrate all these areas into one visually cohesive whole. This was accomplished by removing a wall between the kitchen and dining areas. Since the room had so little natural light, window portholes were installed with light tubes housed behind the exterior frame to light the room at night, creating a romantic aura. Dark cherry wood cabinets with brass fittings were chosen to emulate richness found only on the most expensive yachts and cruise ships. While 1920s in theme, this kitchen is designed for the 21st century with state-of-the-art professional-style appliances and a built-in media center featuring a flat screen TV and audio/speaker systems. Contrasting the deep red woods are cool austere metals, a mix of silver and gold that creates glistening patterns. Polished black granite countertops are used throughout the room to reflect the depths of the ocean bottom. Continuing the marine theme, the designer chose clear glass mosaic tile for the floor and walls to evoke a shimmering look of moving water, mixed with glass tile blocks in patterns of amber waves.
Set in a turn-of-the-century townhouse, this kitchen featured at the Mansions and Millionaires Designers Showcase on Long Island has been updated with an infusion of color. Designers Patrick Falco and Nancy DeMatteis opted to keep the original cabinets and play up the room's vintage architecture with a strong contrast of green and white. Several design solutions were used to visually tame the height of this room. For example: applying shirred white curtains to the lower portions of the tall glass-fronted cabinets creates the illusion of smaller units. Also, the application of a green leaf patterned wallpaper border on the ceiling, aside from decoration, gives the impression of lowering the ceiling height. A simple window treatment features two-inch slat wood blinds with a decorative swag of metallic chains and bead trim. Blue and white china and glass is displayed throughout the room - not very practical for a real-life kitchen - but in this show house interior, it adds visual interest and color to the room.
-- Barbara Winfield
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Images courtesy of Phillip Ennis, Wood-Mode, and Hunter-Douglas
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