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Essential Ingredients: A Smart Kitchen Renovation

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Dream Kitchen Come True

    The Family: Jodi Katz and her husband Gordon Platt and their children, Sam, 12; Nathan, 10; and Owen, 7, of Chappaqua, New York

    The Challenge: Create a functional, bright kitchen that works for casual family meals as well as holiday entertaining.

    The Designer: Annmarie McCarthy, AIA, of Fivecat Studio, Pleasantville, New York

    The Strategy: Jodi's goal was to stay true to the style of her 1845 farmhouse with its low ceilings and rooms of modest proportions. "The old kitchen was inefficient, dark and outdated," says Jodi. "I wanted to keep the charm, the intimacy, but bring in modern touches."

    The Solution: The couple decided against radically altering the original layout, opting for a separate dining nook. With the designer, they made the most of the available space by maximizing storage capacity and building a super-sized cook-friendly island where the kids can eat and do homework. "It's become the center of our family life," says Jodi. Clean-lined Shaker-style custom cabinetry by Grabill Cabinets, of Grabill, Indiana, blends seamlessly with the traditional house.

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Fired Up

    Instead of a range, Jodi wanted the convenience of a cooktop with wall ovens at eye level to minimize bending. The six cast-iron high-output burners on this rangetop (Viking Pro) handle everyday cooking as well as entertaining.

    With a pot filler faucet at the stove there's no need to haul heavy pasta pots from the sink. Above, a powerful ventilation hood in matching finish acts as a sculptural complement.

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Getting Warmer

    When she entertains Jodi serves buffet style, often cooking multiple dishes at once. To fit the bill she chose large-capacity double ovens with a convection feature that bake and roast in less time.

    A drawer below with full extension glide puts roasting pans within easy reach.

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Go with the Flow

    In keeping with her desire to bring in modern elements, Jodi chose a sleek stainless steel bowl over a farmhouse sink. A second prep sink, located on the island, gives extra cooking and cleanup flexibility.

    Sponges and scrubbers are stashed out of sight in the handy tilt-out storage compartment.

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Okay Corral

    Deep drawers are stocked with the boys' snacks. In lieu of built-in dividers, Jodi decided on baskets that can be easily removed for cleaning. "Drawer dividers are crumb catchers," says McCarthy. "This system is much neater."

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Tall Order

    The kitchen boasts plenty of specialty storage spots like this vertical sliver cupboard that stores trays, cutting boards and cookie sheets upright and out of view.

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Stowaways

    Across from the island a cabinet with pull-outs keeps bulky go-to items like the food processor and mixer off countertops yet within grabbing distance. Cookbooks fit neatly on a stationary top shelf.

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Cabinet Members

    In addition to multiple cupboards of different sizes for pots, pans and other cooking necessities, the island features an under-the-counter microwave oven at a convenient height for the kids.

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Desk Set

    The small built-in office area carved out of one side of the kitchen gives Jodi a place to catch up on paperwork while she keeps an eye on the boys. "Jodi wanted her office to be at the hub of family activity," says McCarthy.

    White marble countertops lend an elegant touch throughout. Glazed subway tiles look subtly sophisticated on walls and are also a snap to wipe clean. Jodi decided on the brushed nickel hardware—a mix of spare and classic knobs, latches and pulls—first to set the tone for the project, she says.

  • Hot Stuff

    Looking to update your kitchen too? Check out the latest products, coolest trends and state-of-the-art technologies.

    Dual icemakers—in freezer and door—mean never running out of cubes. A "CoolZone" drawer holds big platters. Special shelves keep spills contained for easy cleanups.

    Frigidaire Gallery 25.8 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator, $2,000, frigidaire.com

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