You are here

A Designer's Updated Manhattan Kitchen

A master bedroom gets the heave-ho to make way for a new kitchen that opens to light-filled living and dining areas 

Written and produced by Amy Elbert
  • Jonny Valiant

    How do you gain more light in a kitchen that has no windows? Move the kitchen. That’s precisely what designer Blair Harris did after she and her husband bought an apartment in a turn-of-the-20th-century Manhattan brownstone. The existing kitchen was in the back of the apartment, a good hike from the living room, which features tall, handsome windows that overlook the street.

    The master bedroom was next to the living room, separated by a wall with big pocket doors. “Our vision was to have a large living and dining area in the front of the apartment that included an open kitchen that blended with the space,” Blair says. So the couple took down the wall between the two front rooms and built a new kitchen in the former bedroom space.

    Stools from Lostine slide under the soapstone countertops. 

    Photography: Jonny Valiant

    Interior designer: Blair Harris, Blair Harris Interior Design, 33 W. 12th St., Suite 7W, New York, NY 10011; 917/265-8519,
    Kitchen designer: Randy O’Kane, Senior Designer, Bilotta Kitchens, 564 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck, NY 10543; 914/381-7734 and 866/245-6882,
    Aran Construction, 163 Saw Mill River Rd., Yonkers, NY 10701; 914/258-0250

    Cabinetry (1-inch thick doors, Plain Inset, Shaker style; drawer boxes are Dovetail in walnut): Bilotta Custom,
    Cabinetry paint (“Railings” #31): Farrow & Ball,
    Cabinetry hardware (“Massey Drawer Pulls”/Unlacquered Brass): Rejuvenation,
    Floating shelves (walnut with Hafele LED lighting): Aran Construction,
    Salad bowl on top shelf (“Astier de Villatte Victor Salad Bowl” #CPBVCT2): Sue Fisher King,
    Countertops: Vermont soapstone.
    Backsplash (Vermeere Ceramic Tile/Alpine Lace color with Crackle finish,” 3x6 inch, #199-C1-311-601, Manhattan Series): Complete Tile Collection,
    Refrigerator/freezer (36-inch): Sub-Zero,
    Range (“Chagny,” 40-inch): Lacanche,
    Range hood (custom): Aran Construction,
    Hood blower: Vent-A-Hood,
    Dishwasher (Incognito series, discontinued): Miele,
    Sink (“Wells Soapstone Farmhouse Sink,” custom): Vermont Soapstone Co.,
    Faucet (“Easton Bridge Faucet”): Waterworks,
    Wall paint (“Pale Oak” #OC-20); trim paint (“Dove Wing” #OC-18). Benjamin Moore,
    Lighting (“Twig” series/Dark Bronze and Brass, custom): Apparatus Studio,
    Microwave: Panasonic,
    Counter stools (“Gordon Stool”/Whitewash): Lostine,
    Flooring: oak.  

  • Jonny Valiant

    Cozy Kitchen

    A 7x3-foot island separates cooking and gathering zones as it helps shape a high-function galley-style kitchen—a showpiece range at one end and refrigerator and pullout pantry at the other. A dining table runs parallel to the island. “It really opened up the apartment,” says Randy O’Kane, a de-signer with Bilotta Kitchens. “They have one large living, dining, and kitchen space—that’s hard to find in a New York apartment.”

    From the start, Blair dreamed of a particular blue-gray cabinet color, but she and O’Kane worried it might make the space too dark. “When she decided to do the open shelves and the white tiles, then we figured it was OK,” O’Kane says. “Especially with the windows in that room, the color works beautifully. I’m glad she stayed the course.”

    Ollie, the couple’s golden retriever, lounges on oak floors that are laid in a herringbone pattern. The island separates the primary work zone from the living and dining areas. 

  • Jonny Valiant

    Smart Cabinetry

    Walnut drawer interiors have clever storage features. 

  • Jonny Valiant

    Walnut Shelves

    Thick walnut shelves with a clear natural finish span the length of the back wall. “I debated adding brackets but decided the simple shelves would better display my ceramics and dinnerware,” Blair says. A strip of LED lights hidden on the underside of the lower shelf illuminates the Vermont soapstone countertops.

    Ceramics and everyday dishes are stored on walnut shelves. 

  • Jonny Valiant

    Range Wall

    A subtle crackle texture on the 3x6-inch soft-white wall tiles complements the soapstone. Unlacquered brass hardware accents the cabinets and is repeated on both the range and the bridge-style faucet.

    Copper pans are within easy reach on a rack above the black “Chagny” range from Lacanche. Custom cabinets from Bilotta Kitchens are painted Farrow & Ball’s “Railings.” Unlacquered brass “Massey” drawer pulls and knobs are from Rejuvenation. 

  • Jonny Valiant

    Soapstone Sink

    The apron-style sink is also soapstone, which creates “one continuous, beautiful line,” O’Kane says. “The soapstone is so organic and has beautiful veining. It takes on a life of its own,” she adds.

    An unlacquered brass faucet from Waterworks and a soapstone sink and countertops are period-appropriate for the early 1900s apartment. 

  • Jonny Valiant

    Designer Portrait

    “We both come from big families, and we love to cook and entertain,” says Blair. “This open plan allows us to do that without anyone feeling crowded.”

  • Emily Jenkins Followill