What do you know about kitchens?
My family started the Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant chain. Before opening the spaghetti factory, they had cafes. And my great-grandfather had a little pickle stand during the war, so we definitely have a restaurateur family. Also, they handpicked all the antiques for every restaurant. I'm very proud of what my family has done.
Do you have any favorite kitchen appliances?
Yes, the pan where I cook my dog's dinner. I make sure my dogs have homemade food. I don't cook for myself nearly as much. I do love my George Foreman grill. If I get home late, I throw something on the Foreman. It's nice and quick. I also love that individual coffee cup maker, Keurig. It's one cup of coffee, shazam!
What are Jeff Lewis's design strengths?
His ability to visualize: a room, a space, the ways furniture should be placed in a room, how a kitchen should be designed. Flipping in the neighborhood of 60 homes, he's learned by experience. He pays a lot of attention to budget, and that's something obviously important in this time.
He also loves, really loves, what he does. When he comes into a home for the first time, he immediately sees what he would do with it. And over the years, he's also assimilated to what other people would want. Also, being able to manage mistakes is a large part of success.
Has he taught you any lessons?
He's taught me to reduce clutter. I'm never going to be Jeff Lewis. I want my house to have layers of coziness, but I do see his points about things. We can always be more organized. Have I totally implemented it? I'm working on it. Baby steps. It's funny because I organize his life well.
Does Jeff have any specific kitchen needs?
No condiments in the refrigerator. I find the no-condiments thing funny. He likes all the labels facing the same way. He doesn't like smell; he's very sensitive to smell, so no leftovers. Zoila hides things in her room, and he manages to find those things as well.
All the frozen food needs to be lined up perfectly straight. If anything is like even a half of an inch off, you're going to hear about it. Trash cans, too. And I've seen him turn on the oven once. However, I think he will design a wonderful kitchen. He has designed over 50 kitchens, and he knows what people want, whether they're a single guy or a large family.
If clients want to renovate their homes, where do you recommend they spend their money?
The kitchen. If they have only one bathroom, add a half bath for resale. Also, the master closet. That's crucial when you're living with your spouse or partner; I don't think they realize they have their whole set of shoes, and you have your whole set of shoes.
But mostly, I think the kitchen. That's where everyone gathers. Someone's doing their homework, someone's on their iPad, someone's cooking. The formal dining room isn't used as much any more. Don't you always find yourself in other people's kitchens? And even when it's crammed, you're like, "Why is everyone crammed in the kitchen?"
Any celebrity homes that you admire?
Diane Keaton's. I find her taste to be eclectic but lovely. I think her stuff is fantastic. Also, a friend of mine, Steve Levitan, who's a producer of Modern Family, has a modern house in Malibu that I love. It's on the beach and it's a lot of glass.
So what's your dream kitchen?
My dream kitchen is spacious and has a Greek doctor in it. Seriously, I like a warm modern style. And I would love a little seating sofa area.
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