Mark Williams has designed many show house rooms in his long and distinguished career but never has he said yes to designing a show house kitchen.
“It’s the most complicated and the most risky to complete by opening day,” says Mark, of Atlanta-based Mark Williams Design. “If you don’t finish a bedroom, you can fluff the pillows differently and make it work. If you don’t finish the kitchen – there’s no hiding that.”
But when organizers asked him to take on the kitchen at the prestigious Kips Bay Decorators Show House in Palm Beach this year, he couldn’t turn down the honor. Battling a shortened time frame, Covid-19 setbacks and a rare southern blizzard that held up cabinetry install, Mark and his associate Niki Papadopoulos pulled off a showstopper, finishing the kitchen not only on time but impeccably.
“A kitchen is just an amazing, crazy, Rubix cube of composition, and we executed it in six weeks,” he says. “Everybody really put forth an amazing effort to make this successful.”
The Kips Bay Show House is an esteemed design event held annually in New York, Florida and Texas to raise funds for the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. A longtime supporter of the event, Monogram Appliances sponsored this year’s 4th annual show house in Palm Beach, Fla., where 20 firms redesigned a 4,400-square-foot Spanish-style villa.
Because out-of-towners were scooping up Florida real estate during the pandemic, organizers didn’t secure a home until later in the process than usual, meaning Mark and Niki had only about six weeks to make their vision for the 250-square-foot kitchen come to life. And, unlike other years, this home had an owner who had input in all design decisions – not a negative for the designers, but added pressure on the timeline.
The two set to work with a couple of guiding factors: one, designing around the terracotta floors, which stretch throughout the ground level and weren’t changing, and two, creating a more functional space for the homeowner to entertain.
“The biggest thing for him was that he really likes to cook,” says Niki. “It’s a second home for him. The previous iteration of the kitchen was really not functional. It was kind of like a maze. We wanted to give ample room for his family and his guests to be since there was no place for them to stand or hang out or have a drink while he was cooking. They were all essentially in his way. So, tidying all of that up was priority one.”
On the aesthetic side, Mark and Niki balanced the darker terracotta floors with Bentwood Kitchen’s light oak cabinets (held up a week because of April’s Texas snowstorm but still delivered and installed “impeccably,” Mark says) and Consentino’s Dekton countertops in Entzo, a soft white colorway that resembles a Calcutta marble but offers more durability. The champagne hue of Monogram’s Minimalist 36” Induction Cooktop was a perfect complement.
“It really helped create an integrated, considered feel instead of a shiny black blob in the middle of your countertops,” says Mark, who uses the Monogram Minimalist Induction Cooktop in his own home.
The integrated, panel-ready column refrigerator and freezer from the Minimalist Collection melts into the wall of oak cabinets. The 30” Minimalist Smart Electric Convection Wall Oven and 30” Smart Five in One Wall Oven with Advantium technology not only fit seamlessly into the design but also offer a multitude of wifi-optimized cooking capabilities for the homeowner. To provide a foil to the precision cabinetry and high-tech appliances – “handmade vs manmade,” they say – the designers brought in warmth with deep red, handmade Fireclay Tile and hand-painted wallpaper.
“When you have the precision and the tech part of the kitchen, you really want to highlight that but you also have to find a way to soften that and made it feel like home,” says Niki, “especially in a Spanish Mediterranean home, which is all about texture and light.”
Sleek, warm and functional – a kitchen win
The confluence of warmth and precision resonated with guests who toured the show house on opening night and commented on the “sleek” feel of the kitchen.
“I translate that word as an appreciation for those integrated appliances and how tightly we can weave those into the design,” Mark says. “Kitchens are sitting in our living spaces, not behind a wall anymore. Designing a kitchen to be in contrast to your house style, those days are gone. Now we want them to integrate seamlessly into the calm aesthetic.”
And the homeowner?
“He came to opening night and he seemed really pleased. More importantly, the friends he had at the who house really loved it,” Mark says. “It was high pressure, but we got there.”