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For Marina and her three teenage kids, the kitchen does more than cook, it's the ultimate hangout.
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Six cast-iron high-output BTU burners on the pro rangetop (Viking) give instant heat and precise temperature control to handle everyday cooking as well as entertaining needs.
Fold-down wire racks mounted on the stainless steel backsplash can be used for storage or to support serving dishes, which can be warmed by lights mounted in the ventilation hood.
Pro pointer: Range hoods with self-contained motors can be noisy. Napoli recommended this model, with a roof-mounted power source.
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"I like the way the glass-front cabinets modernize the room," Marina says. "I didn't want everything white." Top shelves display goblets and collectibles.
To keep the streamlined look, the designer concealed task lighting in a recessed space under the cabinets.
Pro pointer: "Thicker than average 1-inch shelves behind the glass make a strong graphic statement," Napoli says.
Marina's professional interest in wine—she works at a local wine shop—inspired the storage nooks for bottles and cookbooks on one side of the island.
Pro pointer: Napoli lined the cubbies with cherry wood for contrast and practicality—it shows less wear and tear than a white finish.
Marina chose an electric wall oven (Thermador) for its even heat control and because the convection feature bakes and roasts in less time. The unit also takes up less space than a range.
The heated drawer on the bottom keeps finished dishes ready to serve.
Pro pointer: Napoli stacked the microwave on top of the wall oven, which is just above waist level to minimize bending over when removing heavy pots and casseroles.
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Two drawers with full-extension glides below the rangetop put cooking necessities like pots and pans within easy reach. "They pull all the way out," says the designer, "so everything's visible from a bird's-eye view."
Trays, cutting boards and baking sheets fit neatly into a narrow vertical cabinet with built-in dividers.
Pro pointer: Store items where they're most needed—the saute pan near the range, pasta pots near the sink.
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On a Roll
Napoli situated the pantry next to the fridge in two roll-out sections rather than one for easier access. "The shelves adjust to any size bottle or can," he says. "They're fun and cool."
A backsplash of marble brick tiles runs the full length of the kitchen counters. "I like the contrast of the white against the black granite," Marina says.
Pro pointer: The designer tucked horizontal cabinets above the fridge to hold infrequently used serving platters.
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A deep double-bowl stainless steel sink (Elkay) not only cuts prep time, it also holds a multitude of dirty dishes. Sponges and scrubbers are stashed out of sight in the handy tilt-out storage compartment.
Divided trash bins camouflaged in a large pullout drawer next to the sink make sorting and recycling easy.
Marina initially wanted concrete counters but opted for more practical and durable black granite.
Pro pointer: "Faucets with a high-arc spout and pullout sprayer make filling, washing and rinsing pots a cinch," notes Napoli.
Originally published in the November 1, 2009, issue of Family Circle magazine.