Celebrity Style

Designers often create rooms based around specific objects, colors or patterns. This year's Design Idea Center (DIC), however, has added a more personal touch as the personalities of well-known celebrities became the inspirations for three room designs.

To design the 2005 DIC, sponsors Woman's Day Special Interest Publications (WDSIPs) and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) tapped the talents of Dianna Holmes, design manager for Canac, a Kohler Co., and Ingrid Leess, of New Canaan, CT-based Leess Design. The design duo created a trio of kitchen and bath showcases, dubbed "Ultimate Amenities," based on the distinct styles and interests of Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson and celebrity chefs Rachael Ray and Tyler Florence. It will be presented at K/BIS in Las Vegas, May 10 to 12.

Creating a showcase around the personality of an individual well-ensconced in the public eye might seem an intimidating assignment. Holmes and Leess had to first capture each of the private needs and wants of these three very public personas who are not only long-time television personalities, but also authors.

First off, Sarah Ferguson, Weight Watchers' long-time TV spokesperson, is the former wife of Britain's Prince Andrew, second son of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. The Duchess of York has penned five books for Weight Watchers, as well as a number of children's books. Her most recent junior title, Little Red's Christmas Story, was published in October 2004 by Simon & Schuster.

The star of two top-rated Food Network series, 30-Minute Meals and $40 A Day, Rachael Ray is also an author. She's written three books: $40 A Day: Best Eats in Town, Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals for Kids and Cooking 'Round the Clock.

And Tyler Florence is the host of the Food Network's How to Boil Water and Food 911. Named People magazine's "Sexiest Chef Alive" for 2003, Florence released a cookbook that same year from Clarkson Potter, titled Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen. He penned Eat This Book, released in 2005 by the same publisher. This particular publication inspired the creation of a line of Real Kitchen cooking and serving products, marketed exclusively at Mervyn's, a department store chain with 257 locations in 13 states.

Armed with this public information and more intrigued than challenged by the task of creating two celebrity-inspired kitchens and one bath, Holmes took the lead and decided to get behind the personas. She discussed design preferences with each of her famous clients beforehand, allowing her to find just the right combination of room elements.

"Each person gave us some key words to go by, like 'luxurious' or 'urban' or 'hip,' " Holmes explains. "For instance, Rachael gave us words like 'comfortable' and 'cozy.' Those words generate an image for people, and this provided us with [some basic design inspiration] for trying to create rooms that [evinced] these feelings."

Holmes believes using key words is an effective approach for any client, and traditionally uses this technique to be sure her design plans are in line with the client's design goals. "Whenever I design a space, I ask the clients for descriptors," she elaborates. "They may not know what they want, but they generally know the feeling they want, how they want themselves represented. It goes to the idea of individuality, customization, personality put into a space." After obtaining a client's descriptors, Holmes says she next identifies any specific needs - for instance, adequate seating space in a kitchen for entertainment purposes.

After extracting the key words that revealed who they are, their inner desires and the image they prefer to project, Holmes got together with Leess and set about the task of designing rooms that meshed with the celebrities' tastes. "Flow was really important," emphasizes Holmes, "and we wanted three very distinct areas because we had three very distinct personalities."

Rachael Ray told Holmes and Leess that, when it comes to kitchens, she prefers to "keep it fun and easy to clean and warm."

The perky TV hostess always keeps a large chopping block near her work sink. To compensate for her diminutive size, she stores items low to the floor for easier access, with heavy pots and pans in roll-out shelving. As for the look of the kitchen? "I have no rules," she told the designers, "but I prefer no flowers or fabrics or fuss, and nothing too girly."

To create a kitchen with these descriptors in mind, Holmes says she went for a cottage setting intended to feel "cozy, cute [and] comfortable." Forming a mental picture of what elements would fit that mood, Holmes envisioned books, a window seat and a variety of other items she felt would evoke a feeling of warmth.

"That developed into what you see color-wise and material-wise," she says. "This generated a very warm and inviting feeling with lots of textures. You'll see that space has a lot of textures and nice contrasts, like smooth with rough textures, bold red with cooler colors."

Since Holmes wanted to lend this kitchen design "a family feeling," she included a pantry area with a good deal of storage and bulk storage space, installing Canac's Oxford maple cabinetry in Nutmeg on the walls and Hampton maple cabinetry in Riverstone at the base. In addition, she added a space for dog bowls and a sleeping area for dogs by the windows. Contemporary polished-ceramic mosaic tiles from Crossville line the wall, with pebble-like flooring for texture and brick-patterned tiles.

The stainless steel hood above the kitchen's cooktop matches a stainless steel Thermador refrigerator. Adjacent to the cooktop is a Kohler PRO CookSink used for making pasta and preparing soups.

The Ray-inspired kitchen has a U-shaped cooking area so that the island in the middle is aligned with the butcher's block, making it suitable for meal preparation. A small work triangle near the main apron-front, stainless Kohler sink, Holmes says, maximizes efficiency. On the opposite wall, which she describes as "a totally separate prep or processing area," is a baking center with the countertop lowered to table height for rolling out pastries.

She defined the center with Canac's Cathedral (wall) Estate cabinetry in a limed oak finish, and specified several Bosch ovens, including a convection model. A microwave unit is situated near a second wall oven. It also provides a separate cluster or task area for children to help out with the cooking, while making it easy for family members to perform separate tasks in the kitchen simultaneously. Forming a backsplash at this baking center are rows of white frosted-glass tiles.

Mounted to the wall is a Sharp Aquos television viewable from the cooktop, the counter or the cutting board, with pendant lights defining an area set aside for quick meals. White laminate ceiling planks descend to the halfway point of the wall behind the oven and cooktop, framing snap-in-grilled windows with adjustable, light-dimming bamboo blinds.

In keeping with the family atmosphere, Holmes opted to locate the laundry room close to the kitchen. This room featuring Canac's Oxford maple cabinetry in Nutmeg functions as "a multi-purpose space'an overflow area for cleaners, bulk flower, etc.," and is "an ideal space for multi-tasking and storing extra items from the kitchen."

A large washer and dryer line one wall of the laundry room, with richly colored wallpaper and a wall-mounted intercom system for communicating with others in the house. A pocket door isolates the room from the rest of the kitchen, helping maintain a sense of balance.

"There needs to be a balance in a room," Holmes declares. "You have to have a focal point. In this kitchen, that's the cooktop with the hood above it. Then you have the beautiful island in front of it."

The end result, she says, is "a beautiful contrast of clean lines and sleek textures" that stands out sharply against the other more texturized surfaces. "This really adds interest."

It's probably no big surprise that Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, likes to be pampered, and Holmes' design for a Fergie-inspired bath accommodates that aspect of the former Royal's personality. "Her vision of a luxury bath," says Holmes, "is one conceived as a private relaxation spa, with a soothing atmosphere and 'no clutter.' "

Knowing Ferguson's penchant for traditional styling, Holmes chose a free-standing clawfoot Kohler tub and comfortable chairs for relaxing. The chairs are Queen-Anne style armchairs with decorative styling by interior designer Katherine Stephens and wood finishing by James Matar in three shades of wood stain, plus a Special Walnut wood finish and clear lacquer.

A Kohler toilet and bidet occupy their own compartment, sequestered from the rest of the bath by a pocket door. A small side table decorated to match sits nearby, overlooking an expansive picture window.

Open shelves of stacked towels stand behind the armchair and side table. Nearby is a shower stall. A built-in bench extends between adjustable sprays on two walls of the stall. Inset into the ceramic tile walls of the shower are striped glass tiles. Outside the stall is a Solea satin-nickel wall-mounted towel radiator, available in electric and hydronic models.

"Sarah's area is very feminine," Holmes explains. "The whole area is designed to be very soft and pretty, to pamper [the user] with lots of little luxuries."

The room features a stand-alone embossed Floret cabinet door from Canac, which Holmes describes as "a very fussy, feminine door." The cabinetry is finished in a light, off-white color called Sandstone, with a chocolate glazing on it that enhances the embossing and "makes it very pretty." Ceramica Bardelli floor tiles from Hastings Tile & Bath and Gramercy "Tropical Palm Texture" wallpaper add to the decor.

This space contains a tea area/make-up area with a built-in Sub-Zero refrigerator unit suitable for holding wine, tea, champagne or creams and make-ups that store better in cooler areas.

Other features include rustic brass hardware from H'fele, a Broan-NuTone intercom and sconce lighting from Task Lighting Corp. Plus, since the Duchess of York has become a very public figure thanks to her role with Weight Watchers, the bath features a glass electronic scale, designed to match the rest of the room.

Additionally, a sizable S'ura mirror provides drawers for jewelry. The two-way mirror also has a Sharp 26-inch Aquos television behind it for viewing while soaking in the tub. The television "disappears" when not in use. Nearby Robern medicine cabinets offer abundant storage space, with separate shelves for toiletries, while a chandelier centered over the tub emphasizes the spa atmosphere, creating "a very luxurious feeling to the design."

"What's interesting about the space," says Holmes, "is that it looks pretty and Old World with the tub and [ornate] faucets, but it still has all of the wonderful technology of today. There are also plenty of amenities, like the towel warmers. The space has all kinds of little luxuries, but it's also functional."

Tyler Florence described his dream kitchen as comprising a three-step move in which everything he needed was within arm's reach - "one step to the left is the fridge, one step behind is the sink, one step to the right is the range." He also expressed a preference for a five-burner cooktop in an island facing outward; pots of fresh herbs growing and ready for cooking; and a "theater effect" approach to lighting that spotlights work areas, cabinet interiors and items stored on shelves.

To make his dreams a reality, Holmes and Leess aimed for an "urban loft-like feel, something like you might find in an apartment in New York City."

As Holmes notes: "He's a chef who loves to entertain in his home. The design was supposed to be masculine, but still very Zen-like - with very strong horizontal lines [and a design that] emphasizes the calming effect [which is further evoked through the use of all] those open shelves; minimal upper cabinet storage, but lots of drawer storage below and pantry storage; very rectilinear shapes; lots of contrasting materials, and a very balanced contrast of colors and textures."

The key to Holmes' design for this kitchen was in the use of texture and tone. Simple Mission-style wood cabinetry from Canac was used in most areas, though some parts of the kitchen used glass and stainless steel. Door and drawer pulls of stainless steel appear throughout the space. Since wood colors vary from cherry to maple, Holmes wanted a simple backsplash to accompany the wood, ultimately settling on tiny square tiles in a classic grid pattern. Textured indigo wallpaper and natural maple ceiling planks installed above the island finish the effect.

Integrated into this kitchen design is a glass-door Sub-Zero refrigerator, which is accompanied by satellite drawer refrigerator and freezer units. A Wolf built-in wall oven, microwave and warming drawer provide multiple cooking areas, with a five-burner gas cooktop and electric induction cooktop, courtesy of Wolf. Other features include two ASKO dishwashers, an island, a self-contained bar and an extended work surface topped with natural quartz.

The result of this combination of Zen and function is a virtual replica of an apartment kitchen the chef has always liked. Along the way, Holmes made a point to pack the design with as much storage space as possible without having to utilize bulky, unreachable upper cabinets.

The kitchen contains a separate bar area for wine storage, a dishwasher and a bar sink. A Sharp Aquos TV is wall-mounted overhead, able to be viewed from any point in the kitchen. Here, the cabinets, designed to showcase a contemporary feel, have stainless-steel-framed glass doors. Three work zones and an appliance wall containing a built-in oven, microwave and warming drawer stand adjacent to both the main work area and the island.

Florence requested a "very small" work triangle, says Holmes, and "lots and lots of open counter space," a large chopping block and a wide variety of cookware. Contrast was also a valued preference. "He wanted a strong contrast between the island (natural maple) and the rest of the kitchen. There's a nice blend of the dark and light mixing, which is a trend right now - lots of pull-out storage, pull-out fridge and freezer, pull-out pantries and a lot of drawer storage."

Cosmopolitan doors in the bar area are made of stainless steel, with prism glass inset. The use of square wall tiles emphasizes the masculine tone of the design, and the pendant lights over the island enhance the overall look. Holmes beams about the effect, which she says helps to "break up the spaciousness of it. It not only creates 'spotlights,' but also enhances the overall look and style of the space." KBDN