Balancing Elegance with Functionality in a Family Kitchen

A practical family kitchen must fulfill many roles while remaining functional as a cooking and food storage area. For one Syosset, New York family, it was important to balance an elegant look with its functional design. Ellen Lopez with El Design Studio learned about the family and their needs before she created this bright and practical, yet polished kitchen renovation.

As a first time parent, the new mother needed a transitional kitchen renovation that met everyone’s needs—including the family dog. She also wanted a luxurious, beautiful space that worked with the rest of her home.

“She comes from a creative background, so she had a lot of colorful artwork around the home. She wanted something simple but elegant that didn’t compete with her other colorful décor,” said Lopez.

With that in mind, Lopez developed her plan. She created a good rhythm with the cabinetry and an efficient workflow to harmonize with her striking design elements. The result is a work of art—balance and interest blended with functional elements.

Having light when and where you need it is extremely important in a family kitchen space. Though a lot of light enters the kitchen from the windows, white cabinets keep the kitchen bright and airy. The addition of pendant lights over the step-up island along with under-cabinet task lighting, glass door cabinet lights, and lights over the sink mean that this space remains cheerful and well-lit no matter the time of day.

Lopez said her favorite element of this kitchen is how its crisp whiteness works so well. It is bright and refined, but not uptight. It has its own personality, but doesn’t upstage the art in the rest of the home. Even the paneled Monogram refrigerator blends right into the space with its custom white exterior.

On top of the white cabinets sits the gorgeous granite countertops with deep veins of grey, dark charcoal, white and black. To accent the granite, Lopez created a glass mosaic tile detail that sets off the white subway tile backsplash and then frames the pot filler above the Monogram cooktop and oven. The tile flooring remains subtle with its mottled grey coloring that reflects the grey tones in the granite. Tile flooring is easy to clean and stands up well to foot traffic from both pets and people, so it was an obvious choice for this family kitchen.

Both Lopez and the home owner love every luxurious detail of this inviting kitchen. Its style, functionality, and Monogram appliances are sure to serve this growing family for many years to come.

 

Designer Profile: Nicole Ellis Semple

Monogram has the pleasure of working with so many talented and impressive designers across the country. Nicole Ellis Semple with Kuklinski + Rappe Architects in the Chicago area is a true design professional we enjoy partnering with, and wanted to learn a little more about her background and experiences.

Photo credit: Leslie Schwartz Photography

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Nicole: Even as a child I was always specific about the aesthetics of my environment: the colors, the placement of furniture, finding practical objects that were beautiful. My mother is a pretty serious seamstress and crafty gal so I grew up around textiles, color, woodworking, and painting. My father is handy and took up woodworking and remodeling our house, and several of my uncles are in the construction trades. Design and construction were always a part of my life.

In my seventh grade shop class we had to design and draw a house floor plan and something clicked for me. I came home that night and told my parents that I wanted to be an architect.

SRFD: Tell us about your recent projects.

Nicole: We worked on two projects recently that involved subtle plan changes with a big impact on the spaces: one is a very contemporary design, the other quite traditional.

Photo credit: Leslie Schwartz Photography

Our Little Green Kitchen is a bold renovation of a small condo kitchen that previously had bland finishes and a poorly planned layout. The client wanted a colorful geometric backsplash with coordinating cabinets. We created a color blocked space with a much better work flow. Despite the bold pattern and color, the space is bright, fresh, and well-proportioned now.

Inversely, we recently completed a very traditional English cottage style kitchen on the North Shore. We reconfigured a winding floorplan in a small home to create a generous galley kitchen, a butler’s pantry that doubles as a laundry room, relocate a basement stair, and improve a bathroom. The house is small, but by cleaning up the plan and lightening the color palette, we were able to make a dramatic improvement.

And I’m excited about a third project that will be complete this summer: we moved the kitchen in a project we completed 15 years ago from one side of the house to the other. This is our third project for this client, and as her tastes and times have evolved, she decided she wanted something completely different. She put total trust in us to turn the house upside down and I’m not sure who’s more excited about it – her or us!

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Nicole: I appreciate the increasing desire to live simply in small spaces. Our best innovations come from serious space or budget constraints. I love exploring how to use the existing envelope of a home to make it work better without an addition. Subtle changes can have a much higher impact in small spaces. And when clients decide to pare down their belongings, those improved spaces feel so much lighter and brighter!

SRFD: A trend you are over?

Nicole: As classic as it may be, I’m really over standard white Shaker cabinets and basic white subway tile. I’d much prefer to see a similar rhythm and clean lines achieved in other ways. At the very least, we like to play with the edge profile or panel to give it a little oomph. If you’re already paying for a designer’s expertise and/or custom cabinetry, why select something so ubiquitous? Make it personal!

SRFD: Tell us about your engagement with Monogram

Nicole: We’ve been using Monogram for years now. They are a go-to for solving space problems and innovative technology: a 48” wide range with an oven cavity large enough for the heftiest of Thanksgiving turkeys, or a just-right sized built-in refrigerator for a small condo. We appreciate the consistent pace of innovation and that Monogram seems to have a perfect product for every client. They were a joy to work with for our Little Green Kitchen, which is fully equipped with Monogram appliances.

Monogram and Zac Posen: The Elevate Everything Project

Monogram recently debuted a Column refrigerator door panel artfully conceived by style and fashion icon Zac Posen. With intricate details from the charcoal mirror finish to the fabric inspired details, Zac Posen’s door panel exudes sophistication that will help its owners realize the endless opportunities for custom design. The Monogram column is expertly engineered with LED interior lighting, autofill pitcher and WiFi connectivity.

Designer Profile: Jean Stoffer

Monogram has the pleasure of working with so many talented and impressive designers across the country. Jean Stoffer with Jean Stoffer Design in the Chicago area is a true design professional we enjoy partnering with, and wanted to learn a little more about her background and experiences.

Kitchen in 1902 Victorian Home designed by Jean Stoffer Design. Photography: John Stoffer

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Jean: I became interested in design soon after graduating from college in 1982. After getting a business degree I went to work for a small interior design firm as the business manager. I was fascinated by what they were doing. The principle designer was very kind to me and informally apprenticed me when she observed my interest. I’ve never looked back.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project.

Jean: Our firm has been given the opportunity to do design work in many older homes with fabulous architectural details. We find it particularly gratifying to embrace this architecture as a gift and work with it to modernize the homes in a way that compliments how we live and work in our homes today. One such project we completed recently was in a 1902 Victorian in West Michigan. Very little had changed in the home over the decades. Although it was in rough shape, all the original moldings and some very special doors and windows were still there. Score! To agree with how the family lives we moved the kitchen into the original dining room, the family room into the original back parlor, and the dining room into the original front parlor. We made the old kitchen into a mud room, laundry room and powder room. Upstairs we converted one of the bedrooms into a bathroom. We kept the character, and whenever possible highlighted it. It was a triumph! Both we and the clients are delighted with the results.

Kitchen in 1902 Victorian home designed by Jean Stoffer Design. Photography: John Stoffer

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Jean: I’m excited about the trend embracing more color. Particularly in wall paint and accessory items like pillows.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Jean: A trend I’m over is recessed can lights proliferated in every single ceiling of an entire home.

Kitchen in 1902 Victorian home designed by Jean Stoffer Design. Photography: John Stoffer

SRFD: Tell us about your relationship with Monogram.

Jean: I have had the good fortune of attending a designer training event with Monogram at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. Since that training I have felt confident to spec Monogram in projects and educated enough to explain to the client why Monogram is a wise choice.

Zac Posen Reveals Custom Couture-Inspired Monogram Refrigerator Panel

Monogram is rolling out the red carpet to debut a Column refrigerator door panel artfully conceived by style and fashion icon Zac Posen. With intricate details from the charcoal mirror finish to the fabric inspired details, Zac Posen’s door panel exudes sophistication that will help its owners realize the endless opportunities for custom design.

Posen, a judge for Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” is renowned for dressing leading women, including Michelle Obama, Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Rihanna. Also an avid culinary artist and author of the cookbook Cooking with Zac, Posen collaborated with Monogram to bring his signature runway style to luxury kitchens.

“I’m a great believer in handcrafted products—it is part of the DNA of who I am, my brand and the clothing I make,” Posen said. “Creativity and elegance can live anywhere, and I find my inspiration in working with form and shape. When designing for Monogram, I was thinking about how clothing is wrapped around the body and how that can be translated to move over a flat form. There’s a level of precision and detail in all facets of the Monogram Column refrigerator that makes it more than an appliance—it is a work of thoughtfully crafted artistic expression.”

Like Posen, Monogram is known for its finely crafted details and distinctive styles that adorn the homes of owners with refined tastes. The Monogram column is expertly engineered with LED interior lighting, autofill pitcher and WiFi connectivity.

“Our owners crave personalization and sophistication—and Zac’s door panel is an inspired example of what a Column refrigerator can be,” said Keith Larsen, executive director, Monogram. “We use only the finest materials from the LED lighting to the finely polished stainless-steel accents. In combination with Zac’s signature style, the Monogram Column refrigerator is the ultimate culmination of high fashion and high function.”

Posen is among an elite galleria of world-class artisans that Monogram has enlisted to celebrate the craftsmanship of Monogram appliances. Defined by purposeful design and complemented by one-of-a-kind creations, Monogram offers topline ranges, refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers and more.

“When I’m in the kitchen, I want my appliances to be as refined as my recipes,” Posen said. “The Monogram Column refrigerator is elegant. It is so meticulously crafted. It’s a hand-finished product so it really deserved to have an equally beautiful, handcrafted door panel. Together, we have created an inspiration for how column appliances can uniquely personalized.”

Fashion icon Zac Posen, celebrity A-lister Brooke Shields and GE Appliances Vice President of Marketing and Brand Mary Putman celebrated the launch of his newly-designed refrigerator column for the Monogram appliance collection at The Pool hotspot in New York.

Monogram Elevates a Kosher Kitchen with Grand Gourmet Style

When given the opportunity to design a new Kosher kitchen for this Atlantic Beach home, Ellen Lopez of El Design Studio had many things to take into consideration. Not only was she tasked with creating a gorgeous, useable space, but she had to fit double the usual kitchen necessities inside to design a true Kosher kitchen. She had a fairly large area to work with, but she was challenged by the need to provide separate kitchen storage, preparation, cleaning and cooking areas for meats and dairy while keeping her design upscale and beautiful. Of course, she met these challenges and gave the owners an award-winning kitchen that reflects their deep convictions and grand sense of style.

Lopez’ favorite aspect of this kitchen is how all of the elements come together. Though the chevron-style flooring makes a bold statement, the two-tone cabinets in Benjamin Moore Tweed Coat and White Dove don’t compete. The grey keeps the lower cabinetry grounded while the white upper cabinets keep things bright. In addition, the Cambria Quartz countertops in Berwyn bring all the colors and tones together. “It all feels like it belongs, and nothing is overpowering,” says Lopez.

The real story of this kitchen, though, is its functionality. Lopez created a Kosher kitchen that flows well for the home owners. In addition to double sinks and dual prep spaces, the owners chose a Monogram double oven. It offers a level of sophistication that goes well beyond its impeccable craftsmanship—it’s Kosher user friendly. These ovens provide a Sabbath mode where, to meet cooking restrictions during holy times, no temperature changes will be displayed, and the double ovens will operate continuously at a previously selected temperature. Also, having two ovens means one can be dedicated to cooking meat dishes and the other dairy.

 

Having won the approval of the owners many times over, this kitchen has gone on to win accolades from many others, too. The NKBA Metro New York chapter presented El Design Studio with the award for best medium-size kitchen by a certified kitchen designer. It was also featured in Long Island’s luxury lifestyle magazine, House, in its 2018 kitchen and bath issue. We applaud Lopez’ design excellence and wish the owners many years of enjoyment from their gourmet Kosher kitchen.

Designer Profile: Natalie Officer

We recently came across a beautiful kitchen designed by Natalie O Design on Instagram. We were so entranced, we asked if Natalie Officer, the creative force behind the company, would tell us a little more about herself … and share some additional photos. Take a look!

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?
Natalie: It started so long ago, the memory of exactly when is foggy. What I have always loved is the ability to make an impact and positive outcome in such a short amount of time. To truly affect a space, a design, a person in only a couple of days is motivating. It inspires.

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?
Natalie: I am always excited by new collaborations or iterations, and love the fresh impact of colors. As far as trends, I try to stay clear of them.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?
Natalie: Excess. In any form (natural light excluded)

SRFD: Tell us about this kitchen.

Natalie: This kitchen belongs to a local Louisville-area family. It was a renovation from awhile back, but their matriarch, Nicole, is a busy yet wonderful mom and realtor who prefers tackling a little at a time! We’ve been fortunate to help her select vibrant wallpapers and fabrics to work throughout other rooms in her home, and to this day we’re still in touch! We’re currently adding some custom touches to her entry way. This kitchen renovation was a true mix of traditional style and modern functionality. Cabinetry and hardware selections were key here, using paneling on appliances such as the refrigerator. Nicole didn’t shy from mixing metals, using brass, stainless and even rose gold touches on her serving ware. The result is a warm, calming and inviting space for family and guests to gather.

Learn more about the Natalie O Design team here and explore this home and story exemplifying their true nature as a design company.

 

Chef’s Dinner with Monogram

We had a great time celebrating and creating an amazing experience with the clients and team from Jkath Design Build + Reinvent in their new kitchen last month. Learn more about the event and the impressive whole home remodel on their blog.

Designer Profile: Mary Jo Peterson

We have the privilege of partnering with impressive designers from across the country, including Mary Jo Peterson, President of Mary Jo Peterson, Inc., and a columnist with Kitchen and Bath Design News. Learn more about Mary Jo in our interview with her.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Mary Jo: Having started in education, I was crazy about design and anything to do with the kitchen when I headed to the showroom with the best reputation in Connecticut for my own kitchen renovation. There I met Lorey Cavanaugh, a phenomenal designer who not only saw me through to my new kitchen, but also brought me into the world of kitchen and bath design. Early on, I became interested in universal or inclusive design, and this became my professional passion.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project

Mary Jo: We recently completed the combining of two adjacent condos into one, a three story space, and incorporating client-specific access for a couple, one of whom has a degenerative condition, so sort-of a moving target. The overall space included kitchens on two floors, multiple bathrooms and the need to provide ease of movement throughout. It was what I call a reverse universal design project in that we started with specific access and then expanded to include spaces that will work for both members of the household and guests.

SRFD: A trend you are excited about?

Mary Jo: The growing availability of modular appliance options- cooking modules that let one have it all, some induction, some gas, and more, as well as refrigerator/freezer/beverage storage columns that allow one to plan multiple units in multiple locations and of various sizes. This all does so much to allow us to personalize the space for each particular client. This is obviously great in large kitchens, but it also allows us to make the absolute most of small spaces.

SRFD: A trend you are over?

Mary Jo: Stacked oven cabinets. I really appreciate the design aesthetic and the function of the horizontal line in appliance installation, particularly when this can be accomplished in mid-height cabinetry. It gets easier and better as our appliance manufacturers create a variety of appliances at the same height.

SRFD: Tell us about your relationship with Monogram

Mary Jo: My relationships with GE and Monogram go back many years and includes some of my favorite people and experiences. One project that stands out is the Real Life Design Kitchen, which we created for GE to tell their universal design story and to promote the concept within the design/build community. This was back in 1995 (or about then), showing GE and Monogram to be ahead of the curve, and in fact, the newest version of that same kitchen anchors the Real Life Design Lab at VA Tech today. Design innovation is a reason I continue to keep up with what’s new at Monogram.

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