When New York City architect Julie Salles Schaffer started designing a house in Connecticut for her family—her husband, Robert, and their two teenage daughters—she planned it around a central hub: the kitchen. “It’s pretty unusual for the way you design a house,” Schaffer explains, “since most kitchens are tucked in the back. But I’m the one who does the cooking, and I wanted that room to be the knuckle of the layout.” Reinforcing the notion of the kitchen as a focal point is its unusual aesthetic—arctic white accented by exposed wood grain and rounded details.
Blurring the lines between natural and artificial, Schaffer had the cabinets finished to resemble a laboratory version of driftwood, for which fabricator Michael Madore experimented with what he calls an “aggressive” metal-sanding process to pull out the grain from the whitewashed oak plywood. For the hardware-free cabinets, Schaffer looked to a drawer pull detail derived from Giò Ponti’s work—though she admits the radial edging is an effect entirely her own. “I wanted to soften the edges in elevation, not in section,” she says.
Finishes throughout the room reinforce the whiteout theme: Index-d, in nearby Bridgeport, provided the MWE ladder with a custom powder coating, and Schaffer ordered appliances from Miele and Viking to match the color scheme. The only departure: the Schaffer daughters’ favorite Pantone mugs, which reside in one of several carefully placed storage nooks throughout the user-friendly space.
Kelsey Keith has written about design, art, and architecture for a variety of print and online publications.
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