La Cucina Bella
A new Cherry Hills Village home features a modern kitchen inspired by the hills of Italy
Photography by Robert Kittila; styling by Mindy Pantiel
Three days into her 30th-wedding-anniversary trip to Florence, Italy, a Denver wife/mom/food aficionado stepped into an Italian cooking school and something clicked. “The class was in a kitchen in an antique-design showroom,” she remembers. “I fell in love with the aesthetic. So when it came time to design my own kitchen, I based everything on what I had seen in Italy.”
The cooking school, Desinare, featured recycled-wood furniture and Tuscan country antiques repurposed into cabinetry, an island, prep centers, even stove-tops. “I liked the mixing of the old and the new, turning well-loved pieces of furniture into the kitchen,” says the cook. “It’s about making the kitchen more of a home space, a living area. I wanted my kitchen to feel like a room in my house but with the industrial functionality of a well-appointed kitchen.”
High-end appliances were a must, as was room to entertain. Included in their checklist: Wolf gas-range stove-top and large, stacking wall ovens; two Julien prep sinks; two KitchenAid dishwashers; a Sub-Zero fridge and beverage center; a stemware-only dishwasher; a vegetable steamer; a walk-in pantry; an industrial Waterworks faucet; and a pot filler over the range. “It’s a big space, but it’s warm and homey, as well as comfortable and functional, without feeling like a show kitchen,” she says.
Her first thought was to have the new kitchen built in Florence by a master craftsman, but her hometown designer, Andrea Georgopolis, felt it should be made locally to ensure a hands-on process. She then called on Mark Haynam of Aspen Leaf Kitchens to design and build her vision, with help from architect Duane Piper and builder Paul Newmyer. The team started by looking through 50-plus photographs from Desinare and distilling the design elements that were important to the cook and her spouse: a large-scale metal hood, Italian tile, and a prep island that mimics a big table with a stone top and sink. Another key feature is the floor-to-ceiling dish cabinet made to look like a separate piece of furniture.
Empty-nesting life has been good to this couple. Every night, husband and wife have a date in the kitchen. He sits at the counter, reads emails and recounts his day, while she preps dinner. “We relax and eat hors d’oeuvres—vegetables, hummus, cheese, olives—very Mediterranean. Sometimes we don’t even get to the dinner part.”
KITCHEN GADGETS: I love my cherry pitter (OXO Cherry & Olive Pitter, $12.95, Williams Sonoma), because cherries are my absolute favorite fruit, and this gadget makes them really easy to eat. I eat fresh cherries every day in the summer. They’re like candy to me. My lemon juicer (Wood Lemon Reamer, $9, Williams Sonoma) is simple and elegant and makes juicing lemons so easy. Then you can have fresh lemon juice for all of your cooking.
FAVORITE APPLIANCE: The Wolf steamer (15” Wolf Electric Steamer Module IS15/S, $2,285). We are vegetarians, so it allows us to have steamed vegetables every meal, every day, with zero fuss. It’s the easiest thing ever.
KITCHEN DESIGN AND CABINETRY Aspen Leaf Kitchens Limited INTERIOR DESIGNER Andrea Georgopolis, Slifer Designs ARCHITECT Duane Piper, Piper Architecture BUILDER Paul Newmyer, Newmyer Contracting CUSTOM HOOD Weld-Wright Fabricators LANDSCAPE Designs by Sundown