Design Showcase Puts a Modern Twist on an Old Theme

Chicago, IL —A modern twist on a traditional rustic kitchen that involves a host of cutting-edge appliances and a blend of textures and materials, and a luxe spa bath marked with the casual elegance of a Cape Cod beach house. Sound nice?

Woman’s Day Special Interest Publications sure thought so. These two designs, along with a multi-purpose laundry/mudroom/gardening center, were at the heart of WDSIP’s 2006 Design Showcase, whose theme this year was “Into the Future.”

Peering into the crystal ball of kitchen and bath design, Ingrid Leess designed the showcase, which was built and displayed in a portion of Silestone by Cosentino’s booth at the recent Kitchen/Bath Industry Show.

To bring this whirlwind, six-week project to life in time for K/BIS held in the Windy City, Leess, of New Canaan, CT-based Ingrid Leess Interior Design, worked with Mervyn Kaufman, project director/writer for WDSIP in New York, NY. Lancaster, PA-based Shadowlight Group handled the construction of the project. Leess also worked closely with Silestone by Cosentino, which partnered with WDSIP on the showcase to help launch its River Series of Silestone natural quartz surfacing featuring built-in Microban antimicrobial product protection.

To that end, the design showcase was punctuated by such River Series selections as Santa Fe Brown, used on the kitchen countertops. Other Silestone selections included Stellar Meadow, seen on the tub surround.

In addition, Task Lighting provided all of the lighting, while the American Hardwood Information Center provided hardwood resources and information, notes WDSIP.

Last, but certainly not least, is the inspiration for the kitchen: Food Network chef Dave Lieberman. He hosts “Good Deal with Dave Lieberman” on the popular cable network. On the heels of the success of “Eat This with Dave Lieberman,” Food Network’s first Web-only program, Lieberman will be back for a second season online at with “Dave Does” at the end of August.

'Urban Rustic'

When asked to be the inspiration for kitchen, Lieberman requested a space that featured “plenty of counter space and chopping room,” as well as enough space to host multiple cooks and guests. Plus, he wanted enough high-tech function to create quick, inexpensive and easy meals, just as he does on the Food Network – and to be able to do it all in a relaxed atmosphere.

His vision, dubbed “Urban Rustic,” gave Lieberman all of that and more. Leess infused a blend of textures, surfaces and materials to create a kitchen large enough to meet all of his requirements. Yet the design still conveyed an easy warmth enveloped by a total tactile experience.

Leess describes the approach as a traditional look that was slightly reinvented with contrasting finishes and new uses of color. “Every space appears fresh and uncluttered. This is truly common-sense design,” she asserts.

For the urban part, Leess used metallic finishes, seen in the host of stainless steel appliances she selected for the space. These included a convection microwave, a warming drawer, a Wolf cooktop, another induction cooktop in the island, a steamer, a Sub-Zero 36" refrigerator, ice maker and wine storage unit, and a Kenmore Elite double-drawer dishwasher. These appliances, along with two Eljer sinks and Elkay Allure faucets, plus an InSinkErator hot-water dispenser and disposer, further added to the kitchen design’s urban aspect by providing high-tech, future-forward function.

And because the design incorporated two cooktops, Leess was able to create the two chef stations Lieberman wanted. The large, T-shaped island also helped her make the two stations possible because it allows one person to cook on the induction top while guests gather directly across from that person and food prep occurs at either end. Leess further included a bar in her plan with a sink and dishwasher so that cocktails could be made without interfering with meal-making.

Rustic touches included the use of Rutledge Maple Mocha/Cherry Crystal Slab cabinetry from Armstrong; Santa Fe Brown Leather Silestone and Yellow Bar Leather Silestone countertops; Armstrong’s hickory flooring in Bark Brown; Armstrong’s WoodHaven laminate ceiling planks; ceramic tile from Crossville; and two rough-hewn wood posts on the island.

A laundry center with a Kenmore Elite Oasis washer/dryer combined with a planting center, a storage area and desk area made up the adjacent utility zone. Featuring countertops and a bench seat in Santa Fe Brown Leather Silestone, it’s part laundry room, part mudroom, part home office and part potting shed. It’s done in the same design vocabulary as the kitchen, and is a multi-functional extension that completes Leess’ “Urban Rustic” design.

Life's a Beach

For the bath, Leess used the idea of creating a “fabulous spa bath at a beach house” as her inspiration. “I’d actually seen something like this at Cape Cod that had a ‘dropped’ ceiling, so my first thought was to use Armstrong’s WoodHaven ceiling planks in a whitewash finish and tuck the windows in under a ‘dropped’ ceiling,” explains Leess.

From there, she moved onto the tub, which she installed in the niche created by the “dropped” ceiling. That area, she explains, was inspired by the feeling of sitting in a pool. She translated that feeling into a soothing tub area by encasing an UltraBain Origami tub in a surround consisting of a mix of ceramic and glass tile from Crossville in clear, frosted and iridescent finishes, and a tub deck and backsplash made from Stellar Meadow Silestone.

Next to that she installed a paneled Helo/Saunatec Inc. sauna with tall windows, a full-length glass door and an interior big enough for two. The toilet and bidet are tucked away behind a space-spacing pocket door. She also incorporated a huge walk-through shower into the design.

The last component is the double, wall-hung vanity area. It consists of Armstrong’s Olympus Cinnamon Cherry cabinetry topped with Tigris Sand Leather Silestone countertops. The vanities are separated by a tall storage cabinet, thereby creating his-and-hers grooming zones. Two stainless steel Elkay Asana sinks and wall-mounted Allure faucets in a nickel finish complete the bath’s soothing, natural, warm look.