Visiting the kitchen that Christopher Peacock designed for his own family
After talking kitchens all week—from cabinet design to marketing programs—designer Christopher Peacock is ready to unwind on the weekends. Where? In his kitchen, of course.
The man who gave us the iconic white kitchen (inspired by classic 19th- and 20th-century British versions) spends most of his at-home time in the kitchen and adjoining family room, hanging out with his three sons and wife Jayne. And, yes, it's a primarily white kitchen, although the Peacocks updated the room with warm gray walls and coral-toned fabric accents.
"I love making the kids bacon and eggs for breakfast on a Saturday morning," says Christopher. "Very often they have friends sleeping over, so I'm cooking for a corral."
The British-born designer founded his upscale cabinet design business in the United States 18 years ago, and has since installed thousands of six-figure kitchens here and abroad. When he and his family moved into a new Colonial house in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 2005, one of their first projects was to change out the kitchen.
With the world of design at his fingertips, you might have expected Christopher to create a blowout showplace at home. Instead, the designer worked within the existing space, redoing the room to suit his busy family's needs and the architectural style of the Colonial house. "As a kitchen designer doing your own kitchen, you feel this inherent pressure to wow people," he says. "But I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to be a walking advertisement for myself."
Opting for refined and simple, Christopher installed white cabinets from his Classic Collection, with polished-nickel hardware. Countertops are honed statuary marble with random gray blotches, an organic pattern that adds drama to the space. "Actually, the tops make the room," says the modest guy who designed the cabinets. "There are these big gray blotches all over, and to me that says real stone; that's what marble should look like."
While the home's existing kitchen was fine, it was too dark for Christopher's taste, with dark cherry cabinets, green granite counters, and a dark cherry floor. Parts of the original kitchen were donated to Habitat for Humanity, so the materials did not go to waste. "By replacing those things with simple but very elegant pieces, I think we really changed the kitchen dramatically," he notes.
The redo wasn't only for aesthetics, however. A cooktop on the island limited eating space and cramped the family's activities. "We needed to clear the center island so we had an area where we could prepare food, lay out a buffet, serve up a dinner, and feed the kids," Christopher says.
It's mostly Jayne, also a native Brit, who prepares such hearty English fare as roasts and vegetables. "She's a great winter cook and does a wonderful beef bourguignon," Christopher says. "I'm not always around, but when I'm home I love to jump in. I'm more of a weekend warrior."
Seating for three at the 4x7-foot island allows the Peacock boys--Jack, 16, Charlie, 14, and Oliver, 10--to sit at the island while their parents work on the opposite side near the sink and range. Refrigerator drawers in the island augment the side-by-side refrigerator and keep foods handy for snacks and beverages.
In replacing the cooktop, the designer created a focal point niche at one end of the room for a new range. The area features a backsplash with 1x6-inch pearlescent glass tiles and a mantel-style hood. Placing the range against the wall also allowed for a powerful ventilation system, equipped to handle the cooking involved in feeding a family of five, "with three boys that eat us out of house and home," Christopher says.
A hutch with crisscross mullions on the upper cabinet doors divides the family room from the kitchen, with plenty of space on either side to move comfortably between the two rooms.
The existing Brazilian cherry floors were sanded and refinished with a chocolate stain that complements the white cabinets. Christopher upped the sheen level so the wide-plank floors bounce light, adding life to the space.
The Peacocks worked with New York interior designer Sophie Thibon to create a comfortable family room with slipcovered sofas and draperies in easy-to-clean white denim fabrics, accented with coral-hued trim and pillows.
"We basically live in those two rooms," Christopher says. "We designed the spaces so there is a nice flow between the rooms and access to the back deck from the family room."
With frequent guests, including family from England, Christopher says the renovation has proved invaluable. "Our kitchen is the central living space of the home. The kids are constantly in and out; they're very social and have lots of friends over," he says. "There are often many different things going on at the same time, but amazingly, it all works."
Photography: John Bessler
Produced by Bonnie Maharam
Kitchen design: Christopher Peacock, Christopher Peacock Home, 2 Dearfield Dr., Greenwich, CT 06830; 203/862-9333, peacockcabinetry.com 
Interior design: Sophie Thibon Interiors, 516/319-6381
White cabinets from Christopher Peacock pop against dark-stained Brazilian cherry floors. "Abbey Walls," a warm charcoal-gray hue from Christopher Peacock Paints, accents the crisp white cabinets, trim, and marble countertops (peacockpaints.com). Narrow pearlescent glass tiles from Ann Sacks add shimmer to the backsplash (annsacks.com).
Nickel lanterns from Remains Lighting hang from square-link chains. Ribbed glass creates sparkling effects when lights are on (remains.com).
Two refrigerator drawers on the sink side of the island store frequently used cold foods (subzero.com).
A 48-inch stainless-steel Wolf range with two ovens and a powerful vent hood fits in a niche at one end of the kitchen. Shelves on either side of the cooktop keep seasonings and bottles of oils handy.
Tucked in a bay window near the hutch is a Saarinen pedestal table from Knoll (a nod to modern design) that provides more seating for quick family meals or a leisurely glass of wine. "Jayne and I can sit down after the kids are fed, share a glass of wine, and catch up on our days," says Christopher.
Roman shades made with a coral-and-white Lee Jofa fabric and edged with white tassels bring color and personality to the space (leejofa.com). The warm finish of the plywood Eames chairs from Herman Miller accents the wood floor and the coral-patterned fabric (hermanmiller.com).
Scruffy sits in front of a hutch that separates the kitchen and family room. Previously, only one doorway linked the two rooms, and a stone chimney wall stood where the hutch is now. The stone is covered with drywall on the kitchen side and was left exposed on the family-room side, where there is a fireplace. Opening the wall on the left side of the hutch allows easy access to sliding doors and deck.
Durable cotton covers family room sofas from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and was fashioned into plush draperies and pillows (mg+bw.com).
A low, overscaled coffee table made from reclaimed wood adds texture and interest to the room and is sturdy enough to stand up to the rigors of family life with three boys.
Rust tones in a rug from John Khalil echo hues in family room accent fabrics (johnkhalil.com).
Chris Discusses Color
After founding his kitchen design business in 1992--largely based on white cabinets--Christopher Peacock began offering a paint collection. One of the advantages of white cabinets, he points out, is the never-ending opportunities for adding colors on walls and via fabrics. The designer has painted his own kitchen three times in five years, most recently in a warm gray shade called "Abbey Walls." Roman shades in an orange-and-white fabric add warm accents. "I love orange, and it works well with the gray. It's fun but very classic."
Christopher Peacock at home with his wife, Jayne, and two of their three sons, Charlie, 14, and Oliver, 10. Scruffy the cockapoo sits on the back of the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams white denim sofa. Scruffy isn't usually allowed on the furniture but otherwise rules the roost, Christopher says.