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Model Worthy

The true test of a kitchen’s mettle is not how it looks brand-new, but how it looks after a decade of wear and tear from heaving cleavers and spilling sauce.

When Nilus De Matran renovated this San Francisco kitchen ten years ago, he chose materials that would not only compliment and unify the open space—dark walnut, terrazzo flooring, and Carrara marble—but also materials that would stand the test of time.

Though it may be unfairly maligned as a decade, the 1970s have a few things to answer for, such as kitchens that imprisoned their occupants in a dark hole of greasy cabinetry whilst family and guests cavorted out of sight.

When Nilus De Matran renovated this developer’s special overlooking San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district almost ten years ago for a couple who frequently entertain, he liberated the kitchen by knocking down walls and opening up the view across the newly created great room. When the peaked roof was flattened out, three new skylights let the sunshine in.

The kitchen that De Matran started with was cramped and completely outdated.

“I treated the kitchen, the fireplace wall, and the closet with dark walnut, so these big floating objects relate to one another across the space,” says De Matran, who recently designed a modern American kitchen system for Design Within Reach. White terrazzo flooring further unifies the room, standing up to the four resident pugs while melting into the Carrara marble–clad island. Cabinets on either side conceal pots and dishware.

Though the island was designed to be wide enough for group cooking and hanging out, it recently doubled as a catwalk during a shoe designer’s trunk show. “I’m happy to say there were no casualties,” reports De Matran, “neither the marble nor the models.”

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    101 Kitchen Design

    No matter how cozy your living room or den, the kitchen is usually the heart of a home. Whether you use yours to reenact Iron Chef or simply to zap a TV dinner, you'll find helpful how-tos and insightful predictions in this month's kitchen design primer. is your online home in the modern world. Join us as we follow our team around the globe on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Want more? Never miss another word of Dwell with our free iTunes app.


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