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.
"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."
Contributing editor Deborah Bishop approached "Kitchen Design 101" with keen interest, as she is currently plotting her own kitchen renovation. "Having read and been told that this is the most important room in the house- and seeing such an array of aesthetic approaches- I am now effectively paralyzed," confesses Bishop, even though her culinary triumphs tend, at best, toward toast and French-press coffee.