Rockefeller Plaza becomes a mecca for the kitchen obsessed when House Beautiful hosts their Kitchen of the Year show house. The featured designer, Mick De Giulio, is wearing a sport jacket as he gives about 100 members of the press a detailed walk-through the main kitchen and a jewel like butler’s pantry. De Giulio sets out the basic idea underlying this mostly white space: the kitchen is no longer simply a place to prepare meals, it has become the multi-purpose living hub of our homes. And he coined a name for this: “kitchen centric,” which happens to be the title of a lavishly illustrated book including 18 of his amazingly refined kitchens (Balcony Press, $65) published in 2010. For anyone seriously interested in kitchen design, or thinking about redoing a kitchen, De Giulio’s book is a must-read.
The 1000-square-foot show house kitchen, the designer explains, is patterned after his own in suburban Chicago. So it includes white linen upholstered seating (from Kravet, one of the magazine’s sponsors) and a bleached lychee-wood coffee table in front of a stone fireplace inset with a niche framing a Toshiba flat-screen.
Nearby, next to French doors that open onto a terrace, is a dining table for family meals and guests gently lit by a memorable Ralph Lauren Roark aged-iron chandelier from Circa Lighting. Speaking softly and without notes, De Giulio explores each aspect of the kitchen from the idea or feeling that inspired it, down to the most technical detail of materials and fabrication. That expertise is not surprising given his 28-year career and award-winning work with Wolf/SubZero, Kallista, and SieMatic.
Across the skylit room, the working area centers on a massive island that houses one of the sinks De Giulio designs for Kallista, Kohler’s most luxe brand.
The 45-inch Multiere single sink has a tiered interior and slotted drain. Accessories include a sliding colander, utensil rack (which sits in the drain trough) and cutting board that includes knife storage and a sharpening steel bar in back that can double as a small towel rod.
Low upholstered stools are tucked beneath a wenge wood eating bar on the non-cooking side of the island which has two different counter surfaces — the $250 a foot chocolate-colored wenge from Grothouse Lumber and Fair Lady Supremo Caesarstone paired to “de-mass” the island visually. The wenge wraps two edges in a broad L-shape and joining details are breathtakingly intricate. Together with all the drawer details, the island feels like the modern-day equivalent of 18th-century inlaid French mechanical furniture.
A concave “bowl” carved into the counter can hold fruit or prevent foods like eggs from rolling.
The main kitchen wall, behind island, focuses on an induction cook top crowned by the custom, stainless-edged vent hood — a defining feature for De Giulio.
The counter top material is also used to panel the wall niches as well as the designer’s signature sliding backsplash panels that conceal spice shelves at arm’s distance from the cook.
Adjacent to the cook top is a “metal-boy” cabinet — a stainless and glass-door showstopper for hanging pots that is lighted, lined with distressed German silver on the back and sides, and includes an custom divided drawer at the bottom for pot-lid storage.
A second kitchen wall houses a refrigerator and wall ovens (both by Whirlpool) along with a trio of narrow pantries. De Giulio refers to each wall as a composition due to the way the KraftMaid cabinets and other elements are framed.
Then there is “la mattina,” or the morning space – essentially a drop-dead-gorgeous breakfast bar with open storage on a wall covered by Ann Sacks Davlin subways made from white gold-leaf fused between handmade glass tiles.
This area does double-duty for clean up, supported a secondary sink — Kohler’s cast-iron enameled Riverby in a cobalt color called Annapolis Navy.
De Giulio sees appliances as art when framed by the open doors of the appliance garage in the back of the extra-deep base cabinet. However, a flick of the finger can hide them when the cook’s mood turns tidy.
Additionally, there is an outdoor kitchen in the plaza that De Giulio designed around a wood-burning pizza oven.
The Butler’s pantry is tiny, a mere 100 square feet. But Mick packs in the features there, too, and gives us a private video tour explaining his ideas for the little gem — in Kitchen of the Year Butler’s Pantry.
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