House Beautiful Kitchen Of The Year 2009

Now I know why someone associated with House Beautiful yesterday said to me "We love bloggers!" This post will have taken me about 6 hours to produce by the time I'm finished. Why? It's the images! I'm not even going to tell you how how many I took...but maybe I'm the worst editor, or maybe there are just WAY too many inspiring vignettes in this beauitful kitchen/living space. In either case, maybe I was a little obsessive. That's ok, I surrender to it and you benefit.

Ok, let's talk about the kitchen. There's A LOT going on in this kitchen, a lot to talk about. I think I'll be organized about it. Yes, Susan, that's a good concept.


The kitchen design, by Robert Stilin in close collaboration with Ina Garten, was meant to replicate Ina's East Hampton kitchen for House Beautiful's Kitchen Of The Year 2009. The kitchen of the year can be viewed at Rockefeller Center (you can't miss it) until July 24.

You're hearing it more and more...the kitchen is the new living room. The drum beat is getting louder. I think we were shocked by the financial crisis into rediscovering the pleasures of our homes, adding a renewed desire to be cozy, and of course, to save some money and get back into cooking for family and friends to nourish our souls as well as our bodies. Simple pleasures came back into the forefront. Sharing tasks, communicating easily, using the cookware, servingware and other precious pieces that we love and using them more frequently.

Ina's kitchen seems to embody these philosophies and more. Along with wanting things more simple in and around the kitchen, many of us want to cook up a storm too! Just like Ina. The "chef's kitchen" philosophy is one that promises everything right where you need it, with the eye toward common things being seen as sculptural and beautiful in their own right.

The overall design is one, then, of easy transitions from one place to the next in this space. A flow that can be manipulated as desired, depending on the type of entertaining or cooking activities taking place. Cooking. Eating. Very simple. Lounge and rest areas, abundant seating for guests, an efficient galley design helps the flow.


Ina told me (we chatted about her kitchen) that she prefers to assign tasks, accept help when offered, and later, to use the rear of the island as a buffet. Ina uses her dining room maybe twice a year and otherwise serves her wonderful meals in the kitchen dining area. Ina also has on hand her favorite things (dressy serving ware, etc.) as seen in the open shelving, and she uses them frequently. Organization is important...note the utensils in the pottery near the sink, utensils arranged in the same material in each container for quick tool identification. Small appliances require immediate access and somehow look perfect in their various homes along the backsplash.


I just love the Caesarstone countertops. It's a warm gray. It's understated. An understated material such as this supports the kitchen design. It doesn't draw attention to itself except to enhance the feeling of the space. To me, that's what a countertop is supposed to do, play a supporting role. It's lovely and super functional at the same time. With so much going on on top of countertops, take it down a few notches in terms of pattern and I promise you your experience in the kitchen will be more peaceful and serene. Doesn't that make sense?


In random order off the top of my head:

The lamp is SO cozy and useful and, did I say cozy(?) at the end of the countertop.

Items we do not normally think to put into drawers are stored to Ina's preferences. Glasses are in a drawer, favorite bowls, jars laying down in a shallow drawer. A very efficient double silverware drawer insert (I was always against them but I changed my mind now).

Cabinet access at the rear of the island (why not, for rarely used items?)


The cabinetry is by Kraftmaid. I spoke with an old colleague of mind, Sarah Reep, Director of Design from Kraftmaid. Sarah said that she sees cleaner, brighter whites emerging. I agreed with her and said I see more white walls as an anectodal point. Sarah sees super functional chef-type kitchens being even more important than ever, connected to the current movement toward staying at home more and the process of cooking healthy foods a result of the trend toward healthier living. Take a look at some of the cabinet details and woodworking details, especially above the refrigerators. Simple, clean lines. Easy to be timeless.


So, we have neutrals, it seems in this kitchen. We have whites, creams, grays, wood tones, a mix of metals and bursts of color to lift our spirits. It sounds good to me! I think neutrals play a big role these days, again, as we are looking for value and performance over the long term in our more expensive components of a kitchen which are flooring, countertops and cabinetry. How can you go wrong with that thinking? Again, the countertop selection is a perfect example of keeping it simple.


Appliances are by Viking. The range and hood are a warm shade. Warm is nice. Warm feels good. Warm is what many of us want. I'm not sure it's the exact shade, but one of my clients wanted a Viking range about 4-5 years ago, maybe less, and I encouraged her to use Viking's khaki color. She did. It's easy to be around, so much less "cold" than lots swaths of stainless, don't you think? Two dishwashers are a must for a chef's kitchen, which we see here and plenty of cold storage too. Love the sink, love that Kohler sink. Ina told me it's extra deep so that dishes can disappear if they don't get into the dishwasher while guests are here. An induction cooktop toward the end of the cooktop handles another working chef, another way to cook, or just another place to work as a preference. 


It's about comfort, easy and casual living however YOU define it. 

That's it for the moment. I have GOT to get back to work! I just may add on to this as I think of other details, but take a look at this slide show...enjoy it!

OH, before I forget....on the way back from the kitchen tour, I was lucky enough to get a parking space on the upper west side. I thought I'd give my daughter a call to see if I could literally swing by, pull the car over, and give her and her 4 week old baby (my first grandchild!) a kiss, just a quickie. She said sure! So, the last picture is of my two girls. The best reason of all to have a live-in, play-in, entertain-in, anything goes kitchen. Can't wait till they (and my SIL) visit me this weekend...we'll be hanging out in the kitchen a lot!

It's what it's all about.


Posted on July 21, 2009 .