Chef Inspires Decorator Showhouse Kitchen

NEW YORK, NY— No one knows a kitchen better than a restaurateur. So when the committee for the 2008 Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club Decorator Show House asked famed Chef Daniel Boulud to act as the client, sharing his input for the space, he jumped at the chance to create his ideal kitchen.

Revitalizing the Past

Instead of the usual commission of remodeling a Manhattan townhouse, the committee at Kips Bay employed a team to redesign several floors of The Manhattan House, a 1950s modernist apartment building that was originally designed in the style of Le Corbusier. The collaborative team of Regina Bilotta, co-owner of Bilotta Kitchens, and Rita-Luisa Garces, a senior designer for the Manhattan showroom, set about creating a contemporary style kitchen to match the existing architecture of the building.

The committee brought Chef Boulud on board to encourage attention for the showhouse and to boost support for the organization, as well as to inspire a kitchen design worthy of a master chef.

The 30'x18' space reflected the well-matched collaboration. “Most of the products chosen were selected because they had strong contemporary elements, yet were not hard edged. Aside from designing a working space for Chef Boulud, Rita wanted to show how good contemporary design could be warm, inviting and humorous, attempting to dispel the cold, austere [impression] so many people have of contemporary design,” states Bilotta.

Bilotta Kitchens selected flat-paneled Artcraft Cabinetry with a high-gloss chocolate stain and aluminum-framed, acid-etched mirrored glass on the front.

“The cabinets on the refrigerator wall were not to ceiling height, but purposely left with two feet of open space above so Chef Boulud could store some of his cooking elements. Rita thought they looked like pieces of art and therefore displayed them as such – a sausage stuffer, mandoline and blender – not the kind you see in a regular housewares store,” explains Bilotta.

To store glassware, the designers placed a wall cabinet above the prep island. For dry goods, four pull-out storage cabinets reside between the cooking island and the connecting wall.

In the wall behind the cooking island sits a large storage pantry. To house all of the cookware, large cabinets with stainless steel racks are incorporated throughout. The designers also created a special base cabinet to store the mixer Chef Boulud insisted must be a part of the kitchen. All drawers in the kitchen feature soft-close operation to minimize noise in the busy space.

Since chefs love to entertain, the design team created a dual island space that provides space for all kitchen activities while allowing the chef to easily entertain guests as he prepares meals. The Silver Galaxy granite tops on the islands tie together the chocolate and lavender color scheme, which is echoed throughout the space.

A wall separates the kitchen from the entry way and connects the two islands. However, since it doesn’t reach the ceiling, it does not break up the open floor plan. Rather, it adds definition, and doubles as a space to house appliances.

The second island is left open for plating and presentation, aside from a stainless steel prep sink. Facing the dining area for accessibility, deep storage drawers settle into the second island to house dinnerware and linens. A dishwasher and pull-out trash make up the clean-up area here.

Gourmet Technology

The cooking island houses a wealth of hard-working appliances, including an Electrolux gas range, a warming drawer, an induction-hybrid cooktop and two refrigerator drawers. The Electrolux stainless steel appliances were chosen for their performance and their European styling. Additionally, they offered green appeal, since most of the appliances included are Energy Star qualified, Bilotta notes.

A custom designed hood sits over the cooking island, connecting one island to the other. A Nepresso espresso machine sits on the counter, with cabinet space above for the accompanying plate ware. To give the chef the ability to watch television in any area of the kitchen, the designers mounted a 20" television screen on the wall and a 52" flat screen in front of the large windows.

To create an entry area separate from the kitchen, the designers used a partition wall and housed a chef’s desk there, complete with a 17" Mac screen. Two separate Electrolux wine coolers, one for red and one for white wine, and a bar fit into the space near the dining area. The bar includes cabinets with roll-out storage space and an ice maker.

Lighting was also key to the design, with a serpentine wire track light system by Lutron Electronics providing the main lighting for the kitchen. The wall cabinets also have light boxes, while the Caesarstone bar countertop has lights running beneath. Finally, large windows allow for the flow of copious natural light into the kitchen.

For more about this project, click here.