Delicious Kitchens

By staff April 1, 2006

When kitchens go on a diet, it has nothing to do with deprivation. Today's homeowners are slimming down their kitchens with sleek, functional, contemporary designs. They're discovering that smooth silhouettes can be aesthetically pleasing while providing efficient and artful spaces for work, storage and entertaining.

Contemporary aesthetics depend less on external details and more on customized inserts, stainless steel, beautiful wood and refreshing color. Our three examples run the gamut from a blazing ultra-contemporary style to softer versions of the same philosophy.

Vibrant in Red

The owner of this Longboat Key kitchen is an energetic design professional, and her kitchen reflects that energy. It's a daring combination of high-gloss red lacquer cabinetry and stainless steel appliances and hardware. The Italian cabinets from Lube, in a shade called Rosso Amaranto, feature frosted glass fronts that let the red shine without being overwhelming.

A color this strong calls for clean design, so flush-mounted cabinets keep it smooth and horizontal. Long stainless steel handles were custom fit. Aluminum toe-kicks protect the cabinet finish and pick up the metallic look elsewhere in the kitchen.

The homeowner didn't want to settle for ordinary countertops, so she had Avonite, a dramatic new engineered stone similar to Corian, cut to a hefty thickness of two and a half inches. "I love the slab look. It's used a lot in Europe and has that nice designed quality," she says.

With all that full-steam drama, she chose flooring of simple 18-inch porcelain squares in creamy, marbled beige. It holds its own stylishly while letting the strong color and stainless steel take center stage.

Appliances are all stainless steel, including a 42-inch Sub Zero refrigerator. Sleek stainless steel roll-up doors hide appliance garages on both sides. The busy owner loves the ability to hide clutter. Beneath one appliance garage, a hidden tabletop pulls out to provide additional workspace.

For cooking, a stainless steel five-burner gas range tops a built-in convection oven, both by Miele. The Best range hood is also stainless. But the homeowner is happiest with her choice of an Asko dishwasher, because the one request her husband voiced was to keep the noise down. It's so quiet, the wife reports, "I've opened it to put dishes in and discovered it's running!"

Since the couple enjoys entertaining, they recommend the extra-deep sink for one specific reason: "When you're having a dinner party you can put everything into the deep sink, so the counters are clear and no one even knows the kitchen isn't cleaned yet!"

In renovating the kitchen, the couple closed off an extra door to gain space for a wine bar and beverage center complete with sink and hanging glass storage. Their U-Line refrigerated beverage center has racks for wine on top and cans on the bottom. The owners chose it over a wine cave because "it provides for all needs of a party, not just wine."

An entertainment center matches the kitchen in style, color and design but is set away from the actual workspaces. "We like the open flow and having the entertainment center match the kitchen, but its location helps keep guests on the other side, out of the way, while we're working in the kitchen," the owner says.

Soft Contemporary on Siesta Key

The kitchen in this new Siesta Key home boasts sleek cabinetry and stainless steel, but manages to soften the look with Shaker-style cabinetry in light walnut that creates a transitional look between contemporary and classic. But the resemblance to Grandpa's kitchen ends there. This kitchen is all new with special touches.

The owner, Maurice Dentice, of Rico's Pizzeria and Pasta House, was born to a restaurant family with Italian roots, and his version of contemporary design updates some Old-World touches. Countertops have the look of an Italian country home in what Dentice calls "funky granite," because they're thick slabs. Since the whole family, including brothers and father, are in the restaurant business, family get-togethers revolve around cooking. The Dentices divided their refrigeration needs into two Sub Zero refrigerators, one for food, another for beverages. Two freezer drawers occupy the space under each refrigerator.

A stacked set of double ovens offers convection and conventional cooking with a warming drawer below. The microwave sits in the wall to the left. A five-burner glass cook top is located on the island. Centered in the kitchen above it rises a dramatic stainless steel hood with curved glass arching over the cook top. All are by Miele. While glass cook tops are a common choice these days, as a professional Dentice would normally have chosen a gas range. But as a family man, "I chose the glass top range because I didn't want open flames with young kids."

Two large drawers under the range put pots and pans within easy reach. Some cabinetry units are designed to lift up horizontally on hinges as opposed to opening out. Says Dentice, "It's a nice convenience because it stays up and the door's out of your way." Dentice also recommends the removable kickboards for easy cleaning under the cabinets.

He chose a Franke sink for its large size and depth, but the real star of that area is an extra-tall, pot-filler faucet. Its swivel feature enables this Italian cook to fill large pots for pasta, not just in the sink but on the counter-avoiding heavy lifting and spills. A stainless steel Miele dishwasher sits to the right of the sink.

An adjacent entertainment area with its own refrigerator and sink continues the look of the kitchen with matching cabinetry and stainless steel accents, as does a bar area with two Sub Zero wine chillers in the living room. Pendant lights in a golden mocha shade accent the breakfast bar. They're weighted to pull up and down, and Dentice says, "My family just can't resist playing with them. They always end up in a different position!"

A Sleek Transformation

In Gator Creek, a posh country community of largely equestrian estates, one recently renovated kitchen is as sleek as a thoroughbred. Stainless steel is used throughout as "anchoring," and creates a unifying theme, says designer Judy Hunt of EuroTech Cabinetry.

Set against Venetian plaster walls is white oak cabinetry that was rift cut to display its vertical grain. Although it's clearly contemporary, this driftwood shade softens the overall image.

The full overlay cabinets are totally flat to the frame for an ultra-smooth profile. Incorporating some floating shelves with the cabinetry and changing the cabinet heights for added interest. In fact, the tall elements were installed at a slightly higher height than the wall cabinets to create a sense of movement in the large space, a technique that Hunt says, "avoids the monotony of just filling the walls with cabinetry."

Calm, fresh colors enhance the soft contemporary design. Hunt calls them "grounding" colors. All the upper cabinets were wrapped with a taupe-painted accent stripe. Except for the stainless steel counter on the island, the countertops are smooth quartz in a gentle cream tone with a coordinating glass tile backsplash. The whole effect is a comforting expression of muted tones.

Aluminum-trimmed obscure glass cabinets and stainless elements are scattered strategically throughout the kitchen. The subtle polish reflects the monochromatic colors already in use in the other finishes.


Flush-mounted cabinetry: Today's newest designs incorporate recessed doors that fit flush with the cabinetry for a smooth horizontal line.

High gloss: A key look from Europe is high-gloss finishes in bright tones, notably red and black with silver, although the sky's the limit in custom colors.

Glass accents: Jewel tones are hot right now for countertops, backsplashes and cabinetry doors.


Extending kitchen elements to living spaces: Similar cabinetry is often used for shelving, beverage areas and home theater systems in adjacent areas.

Double islands: For cooking duos, two islands are often placed end-to-end in order to maximize storage, workspace and buffet areas.              

Food prep and cooking areas: As kitchens get bigger, homeowners are often doubling up on refrigeration, sinks, and even cooking to create separate areas based on food preparation and cooking or family use and entertainment.

Custom cabinetry images: The ultimate customization, a digital four-color process can print images directly onto cabinetry. Choose from stock images or provide your own.


Aga "cold" products: The classic rounded look of Aga cookers is translated into a wine cellar, ice machine and under-counter refrigerator in black, cream or claret.

Refrigerators with entertainment built-in: The LG refrigerator with remote-controlled LCD TV and FM stereo entertains the cook with television and music while saving counter space.


And the ultimate.a refrigerator that's a computer: Monitor Internet-ready appliances from microwave to washing machine, surf the 'Net, download music to cook by and more. So new it's only available in Asia right now, but watch for it to arrive here soon.

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