10 Ooh-La-La Kitchens
What’s new in design for the home’s soulful center? No-fuss materials, clutter-free work spaces, and smart space planning that accommodates a crowd.
1. FAMILY SPACE STATION (above)
Elisabeth Aiello, CKD, kitchen designer, Kitchen Distributors
“This family loves to cook, so function was their top priority,” kitchen designer Elisabeth Aiello says of this 500-square-foot space. Two long islands—one with a prep sink and storage for knives, mixing bowls, and cutting boards, and the other with a large sink and dual dishwashers—provide separate work zones for multiple chefs, plus plenty of room for guests to gather. Flanking them are professional-grade appliances: a 36-inch Sub-Zero refrigerator and 26-inch freezer on one side, and a 60-inch Wolf range with dual ovens and custom hood on the other.
Selected with grease splatters and sharp chef’s knives in mind, the materials palette consists of durable, no-maintenance finishes. Aiello chose Caesarstone quarts countertops in two neutral colors: gray-beige Haze to crown the islands’ glossy white cabinetry and snowy Blizzard to contrast with the striated, textured-veneer cabinets along the room’s perimeter. Cabinets with real walnut veneers define the desk, pantry area, and coffee bar, adding warmth to the heart of this home.
Photo: Sara Yoder/Courtesy Laura Medicus
2. MODERN FARMHOUSE
Laura Medicus, interior designer, Laura Medicus Interiors
Last summer, the owners of this Golden home returned from a vacation to find their kitchen completely destroyed by a flood. One tearful phone call later, interior designer Laura Medicus was on the case sketching a new space she hoped the family would love even more than the original.
Medicus began by removing a wall at each end of the room to open the space to the adjacent living areas and accommodate a new dining counter for the couple’s young boys. She added a combination of open shelves and closed cabinets, a custom pantry where gadgets and small appliances can be neatly tucked away, and a built-in wine and liquor cabinet.
Next, she set about creating the modern farmhouse look the homeowners envisioned, pairing black granite countertops (a more durable and affordable alternative to soapstone) with custom-made poplar cabinets painted a soft white hue and crowned with moldings that emphasize the kitchen’s traditional style.
Finally, the designer added a few “country-rustic” touches—handmade backsplash tiles, two pairs of wooden shelves mounted atop handcrafted iron brackets, and a distressed beam above the stove—because “sometimes an all-white kitchen can be too precious,” she says. “It needs some oomph!”
Photo: Emily Minton Redfield
3. COLOR & AIR
Donna Pocci, interior designer, Pocci Design Group
Cooking in their New York City apartment had left this home’s owners, who live part time in North Boulder, craving a spacious kitchen with plenty of room for preparing meals, entertaining, and displaying treasured heirlooms. The room is a comfortable 200 square feet, but interior designer Donna Pocci made it appear even airier by “floating” light finishes above rich, warm woods.
An expansive island, which doubles as a dining table and food-prep space, appears to hover above the floor, while banks of white, textured wood laminate cabinets hang above dark walnut lower cupboards. A steel-framed glass cabinet with mirror back panels highlights the couple’s antique glassware while reflecting views of the foothills through windows on the opposite wall. Crisp white countertops and a mosaic-tiled backsplash illustrate on of Pocci’s favorite design tricks: “Choose a durable, no-maintenance synthetic material for the work surface—in this case LG’s Viatera quartz—and pair it with the real thing—on the adjacent backsplash,” she says. The couple’s collection of colorful glass vessels pops against the neutral palette, just as Pocci knew it would. After all, she says, “this space is meant to tell its owners’ story.”
Photo: J.C. Buck
4. RANCH REVIVAL
Megan Daughtry, interior designer, Second Nature Interiors
For 10 years, the owners of this 1960s Boulder ranch house had debated how to improve their dim, dated, 10-by-10-foot kitchen. Its cabinets were shallow, its vinyl floors were dingy, and its oven was too small. Finally, they called designer Megan Daughtry for help.
First, she knocked down the walls that divided the entry, kitchen, dining room, and family room into cramped separate spaces. Next, she tackled her clients’ list of must-haves, incorporating 60 square feet of counter space, a dining area at the island for their young daughters, and a beverage center for guests. Soft-gray striated cabinets from IKEA’s Brokhult collection evoke the tranquil, beachy feel the wife wanted, while specialty storage inside each cabinet satisfies her need for order.
Lest the contemporary space feel “too vanilla,” Daughtry says, she warmed things up with a few subtle details: Chipped-glass bits embedded in the honed Caesarstone countertops lend a hint of texture, and the island’s black-brown IKEA Laxarby cabinets contrast with the room’s neutral palette. White glass backsplash tiles “shimmer and cast a watery blue hue,” Daughtry says, reflecting all the natural light the kitchen now receives.
5. MASSIVE & SLEEK
Sarah Broughton (principal) and Delvon Nemechek (project manager), architects, Rowland + Broughton
Mead Metcalf, proprietor of Aspen’s storied Crystal Palace cabaret dinner theater, envisioned a midcentury modern party pad when he designed his cliffside retreat back in 1969. The home’s new owners also had entertaining in mind when they enlisted the architects at Rowland + Broughton to transform its two kitchens, which “hadn’t been updated since the early 1990s,” project manager Delvon Nemechek says, into one sleek space equally suited to cooking and gathering.
Designed to align with one of the home’s original roof beacons—a skylight-topped, pyramid-shaped roof volume accented by curved glulam (glued laminated timber) beams—the new room features a simple, symmetrical layout and modern finishes in cool gray hues. “It’s more functional than the two kitchens that were there before,” Nemechek says, “but we wanted to hide as much of that functionality as possible.”
Two new 17-foot-long islands and a pantry wall conceal everything from appliances and cookware to dishes and linens behind sleek Thermofoil cabinet fronts. Even the electrical outlets are hidden behind small stainless-steel touch pads. Ultrathin Silestone countertops and a translucent Poliform dining bar, all with modern waterfall edges, provide abundant space for prepping and serving food while emphasizing the streamlined style the owners had envisioned—a few new take on the mod party pad.
Photo: Emily Minton Redfield
6. A FIELD OF WHITE
Angela Otten, kitchen designer, William Ohs Showrooms
This Cherry Creek North home required designer Angela Otten to orchestrate a disappearing act. “Although a kitchen is a very functional room, this one had to blend perfectly with the rest of the home—a modern, bright, and monochromatic space designed to highlight the owner’s artwork,” she explains.
Local manufacturer William Ohs engineered and built cabinets with thick, high-gloss acrylic fronts that match the home’s white walls, adding aluminum, channel-style hardware that’s flush with the doors and drawers. Tambour-style cabinet doors open vertically to match a pair of white glass Miele ovens; other appliances are hidden way behind cabinet fronts or tucked into niches “so the entire run of cabinetry resembles a wall,” Otten says. A pair of islands offers distinct zones for prep work and cleanup, with cabinetry accessorized “to make cooking and cleaning simple and easy,” the designer says. Capping them are Caesarstone countertops in a soft gray that complements the concrete floors.
For the perimeter countertops, Otten selected a white Caesarstone that matches the cabinets and walls. The cool palette glows when natural light floors the room but always defers to what’s most important to this homeowner: her fabulous collection of art.
Photo: Scott Hasson Photography
The owners of this downtown Denver condo have a health-conscious lifestyle and wanted their new kitchen to support it. “They shop for food daily, so they wanted a tall refrigerator for storing fresh produce, and nothing more than a 24-inch freezer drawer with ice maker,” kitchen designer William Landeros explains.
The young couple’s taste for minimalism was a perfect match for the clean, contemporary aesthetic of a Bulthaup kitchen, which conceals lots of smart functionality within sleek, multi-function walls. Uncluttered countertops were a must in the small space, so Landeros and fellow kitchen designer Jed MacKenzie incorporated a variety of suspended storage elements that allow the homeowners to hang cookbook and paper-towel holders, herb pots, and other accessories from a gap above the white glass backsplash, then remove them when they aren’t needed.
Every appliance is integrated into the white, high-gloss acrylic cabinetry, including a hidden visor hood above the induction cooktop. Ultraslim quartz countertops are “low-maintenance and impermeable to grease and liquids,” Landeros says, making the kitchen both easy to live with and easy on the eyes.
Photo: Eric Lucero
8. LIGHTENED UP & LASTING
Kimberly Timmons-Beutner, interior designer, Kimberly Timmons Interiors
A kitchen they could—that’s what the owners of this Arvada home hoped to achieve when they hired architect Tim Hodges of Synergy Design, interior designer Kimberly Timmons-Beutner, and local contractor C4 to transform their dark and confined 1980s-era kitchen into a bright, open, and modernized living space.
The design team raised the room’s ceilings and removed a wall dividing the kitchen and family room to create on spacious place where the family could cook, dine, and gather, complete with “different seating areas for different times of day,” Timmons-Beutner says. The family “sought a luxurious, custom look yet had a modest budget,” the designer adds. To make the most of it, she splurged on a few distinctive focal points: high-end stainless-steel appliances, a decorative-tile inset above the cooktop, and a large, furniture-style island with a granite top.
Then she cut costs by refinishing the existing wood floors and finding a textured ceramic backsplash tile with the look of pricier glass. White cabinets by Denver-based Infinity Open-Framed Cabinetry are uniquely designed to maximize storage space and durability, and their coffee-colored glaze “gives the whole kitchen character while concealing blemishes that may happen over time,” Timmons-Beutner explains. After all, this is a kitchen that’s meant to work hard.
Photo: Eric Lucero
“A space of light and wash” is how architect Jamie Daugaard describes this Parker home’s open kitchen. Walls of windows facing south and west—toward views of the Front Range and Black Forest—fill the room with natural light. The soft “wash” of color comes from subdued finishes that Daugaard and interior designer Kim Layne selected to create a relaxed, rustic-meets-contemporary vibe, including creamy white walls and distressed cabinetry, faux stone with thick grout joints, and light leathered-granite countertops. To punch up the palette, they added charcoal-gray cabinets, hefty fir columns and trusses, and flooring incorporating five species of reclaimed barnwood.
Two massive islands ground the lofty space, providing seating for more than a dozen guests, and a pair of 3-foot-tall lanterns illuminates the broad worktops. A floor-to-ceiling wall of cabinetry and a walk-in pantry offer abundant storage, and a Thermador refrigerator, built-in ovens, and a six-burner range are all large enough to keep pace with the young family of six.
But this kitchen’s purpose is greater than just food prep. “This is the hub of a house that was designed to keep the family together,” Layne explains. “The bedrooms and other private spaces are relatively small to encourage everyone to gather and spend time in the kitchen.”
Photo: David Lauer
10. A COOK’S STAGE
David Austin Robb, architect, Robb Studio Inc.
“A kick-ass kitchen” is how architect David Robb describes this masculine space in one of downtown Denver’s Flour Mill lofts. Its owner, a passionate cook and art collector, envisioned “modern, highly crafted materials that would contrast with the rough, tough character of the structure,” Robb says.
The architect built a 9-inch-tall platform for the kitchen, providing a dramatic stage for the owner’s culinary feats while accommodating the plumbing required by the new space’s three separate work areas: an island for prep work and casual dining, a separate island with range and induction cooktop, and a back counter and cabinets for cleanup and dish storage.
Mikal Otten of Denver-based Exquisite Kitchen Design oversaw the fabrication of streamlined custom cabinets that match the stained white-oak floors and ceiling. Each lower door and drawer’s top edge was carefully mitered to the countertops, creating the illusion of ultrathin stone and steel slabs. “Because of their breadth of knowledge and experience, we felt Otten’s studio was ideally suited to help us accomplish these complicated and highly detailed designs,” Robb says.
Chicago-based interior designer Jennie Bishop and Cadre General Contractors’ skilled artisans helped the architect develop a variety of applications for the industrial-looking steel that caps the cooking island. A stainless-steel outlet strip accents a backsplash of white Macaubus quartzite; above it, perforated blued-steel cabinet panels sharpen the palette. “We began with a vision of a space at the art end of architecture,” Robb says of his detailed design, “sculpting functional objects as pieces for the owner’s delight.”