Classic Materials and Durable Finishes Add Timeless Style to This Cook's Kitchen
A kitchen designed for serious cooking also feeds a need for enduring style.
Secret recipes are as integral to a standout kitchen as butter and eggs. And just as a chef might have a hush-hush technique for a fluffy soufflé, Caren Rideau has her special formula for creating the perfect kitchen. "It needs to be functional first," the Los Angeles designer says.
"It was big for me to get everything the homeowner wanted into this kitchen," Rideau says. "It's a cook's kitchen. She prepares every meal here almost every day. It has to really work."
Function flows from the prep and cooking area of the main kitchen into storage and eating spots in the breakfast room.
Work, it does—from the ground up. Rideau began the renovation by replacing hardwood flooring with nearly indestructible marble, reclaimed from a building in Europe. "The flooring needs to stand up to five dogs and five children," she says. "If Europeans have walked on black-and-white marble for 500 years, we should be good here."
Then Rideau gave the homeowner, Megan North-Wendorf, the work space she craved by incorporating both an island and a peninsula into the footprint. The peninsula offers a trifecta of barstool seating, prep space, and a mammoth 4-foot-wide sink with a built-in colander and cutting board. The island provides additional work surface next to the range. Both are topped with durable quartzite that nods to the look of the marble floors.
White subway tile with light gray grout and blue tile with white grout are accented by brass, including light fixtures by Urban Electric and a footrail.
Classic white cabinets corral Megan's must-haves. "There's a ton of storage organized around various activities," she says. "For example, a breakfast station with a coffee bar, eggs, dairy, bread, and cereal all in one area. It keeps the mess down and helps the kids clean up after themselves because it's intuitive."
Brass hardware on cabinets introduces a touch of glimmer to the classic space. Rideau retained the existing crown molding and shiplap ceiling that relate to the rest of the house. Marble flooring stands up to canine compadres Yoda and Nala.
A pro-style range with six burners, a griddle, and two ovens answers Megan's call for a workhorse cooking station. "The black finish introduces color into the white kitchen and goes with the subway-tiled New York bistro look," Rideau says. She designed a custom hood to match the range and carry its dark drama to the ceiling. Overhead, black-and-brass light fixtures complement the focal-point combination.
Refrigerator drawers near the range hold deli and produce items that Megan will use right away. Meanwhile, a full-size refrigerator and freezer reside in the adjoining breakfast room. "I extended the kitchen into the breakfast room to give Megan more room in the main kitchen," Rideau says.
Glass-front cabinets contribute to the room's airy mood. Wood shelves and cabinet backs speak to similar natural-wood elements in the breakfast room.
In addition to offering seating for casual dining, the breakfast room boasts a wine refrigerator, beverage center, two pantries, and a natural-wood larder cabinet. White cabinet panels disguise the refrigerator and freezer. Brass sconces echo the sultry hardware.
Chicken wire on the doors of the larder cabinet ensures proper air flow around root vegetables and gives a glimpse of pretty dishware. "I introduced a little wood as an accent that warms up a white kitchen," Rideau says. "The same wood inside glass-front cabinets in the main kitchen ties everything together."
Likewise, a hit of blue on dining chairs repeats the blue subway tile on the kitchen peninsula seating area—and the blue and white used in the neighboring family room. "Function rules here," Rideau says, "but I also love the aesthetic. It will never go out of style."
Megan agrees. "I asked for a kitchen that reminded me of an old-fashioned bistro that had been modernized. Caren achieved that, using new materials in a traditional way. I love absolutely everything about it."