Every year, we cook up the ultimate showcase of culinary game-changers and dazzling decor trends. This time, Atlanta designer Matthew Quinn combined efficiency with elegance, totally redefining what a home kitchen can be — at least until next year.
KATHLEEN RENDA: Could this kitchen be any sexier?
MATTHEW QUINN: It's definitely not a traditional white one! The homeowner, Elizabeth Garvish, loves glamour and the color teal. I wanted the space to reflect her style, so I brought in flirty blues and luxe details, like the island banquette and the crystal chandelier. Kitchens with outsize personality — lots of customization and bold hues — are trending right now, especially in new-construction homes like this.
Is that what makes it our Kitchen of the Year?
Yes, but the design is just half the story. This space is filled with innovations! It's the first home in the country to have a 60-inch Thermador Pro Grand Steam range, with a combination steam-and-convection oven that can cook a Thanksgiving turkey in 90 minutes. There's also a hands-free Grohe K7 faucet with a foot-activated motion sensor and two superfast Thermador Star-Sapphire dishwashers that can run a wash cycle in 20 minutes. I found all three — and most of the other products — at the Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery showroom, my go-to source here in Atlanta.
Are you always chasing the latest technology and kitchen gadgets?
These innovations actually make meal prep and cleanup faster and easier. One of my goals for this kitchen was to save Elizabeth 10 minutes a day. In a year, that's about 60 extra hours — a huge help for a busy lawyer with one-year-old twin boys!
There's still plenty of glitz, though.
Function came first, but it wasn't the only priority. The big walk-in pantry is a great example of the way this kitchen balances sophistication and performance. It's loaded with storage — but it's also a total wow moment. The mullioned glass doors open into a jewel box of a space lined with lagoon-blue AKDO glass tiles. Even the ceiling received the glam treatment, with Thibaut's Windward Sisal wallpaper. Completely over the top, but worth it, because Elizabeth will be in and out of there constantly.
The island with the built-in banquette is another showstopper. What inspired it?
The original sketches called for a traditional rectangular island and counter stools, but the design felt too clunky — as if we were placing a barrier between the kitchen and the great room on the opposite side. I also realized that it would be years before Elizabeth's young boys could sit comfortably on stools. Then it hit me: Kids love booths! The stain-resistant Sunbrella upholstery from Thibaut really lets them get comfortable. Curving the island also made it friendlier: The banquette seems to reach out from the kitchen to the great room to say, "We're just one big, happy room."
That Thermador range is five feet wide! Why doesn't it overwhelm the room?
I complemented it with other equally strong design elements. It's flanked by a pair of windows, each topped with a Leyden sconce from Hudson Valley Lighting. Together, the sconces and shades add softness. Another tactic was painting the ceiling insets in Farrow & Ball's Oval Room Blue: The high-gloss finish and eye-catching color make the room feel taller. Then I added a brass-and-pewter hood, which I designed for François & Co. It's sculptural, with graceful lines that offset the visual heft of the range.
Any worries that such a distinctive kitchen could impact resale value?
Not really, because this is Elizabeth's forever home. The challenge was intuiting what her life will be like in the future. Because I wanted the kitchen to be able to evolve, I chose details that can be easily altered. For instance, she can have the ceiling repainted without much fuss, or reupholster the banquette. It was important to think along these lines, because this is where she'll raise her sons to adulthood. And I don't just mean under this roof. Everything will take place in this very room, because her kitchen isn't simply the heart of her home. For Elizabeth, it is her home.
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This story originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Natipernavigare.