Glamour and functionality are joined in a Brooklyn renovation
A silver-leaf ceiling, crystal hardware, and a stunning quartzite island illuminated from underneath are definitely dazzling. Far more than a trophy kitchen, however, this glamorous space is as practical as it is posh, serving as a kosher kitchen and hub of the home for a family with a self-described “kitchen-maniac” mom and five children.
New York City kitchen designer Robert Schwartz stepped in to renovate the Brooklyn kitchen, which was showing its age after 15 years of heavy use. Two Brooklyn interior designers also were involved, choosing furnishings and carving out a dining area.
“With a growing family, my small and cramped kitchen space became insufficient,” says the mom-in-charge. “It was used and abused and literally falling apart.”
Storage was an issue, too, particularly because the family keeps a kosher kitchen, which requires separate cooking, storage (for cookware, utensils, and serving pieces), countertop work areas, sinks, and dishwashers for meat and dairy products.
The old kitchen and part of an adjoining porch were reconfigured to create the new 400-square-foot kitchen, with two cooking and prep areas on opposite walls—one for dairy and one for meat. The axis integrating the two sides is an island, with a quartzite top lit from underneath at the edges. LED light strips were attached to a wood substrate set just below the stone.
“One of the driving forces on this project was the white quartzite countertops, displaying beautiful light silver and black veining,” says Schwartz, who selected the stone after searching for the “purest and cleanest slabs with consistent veining.”
Framing the island from above is a trough ceiling finished with silver leaf and punctuated with crystal fixtures.
The black, white, and silver palette is driven home with custom-made black and white cabinets painted with a semigloss finish that adds a subtle sheen. Beading on the door panels is accented with slender lines of silver paint. Crystal hardware adds glimmer, like rhinestones on a gown.
“Black and white ensures classic color tonality,” Schwartz says. “However, I added the silver bead inside the recessed panels for detail and to correlate with the stainless steel accents.
“The client was concerned about her children and guests kicking and scuffing the painted wood bases below the island,” notes Schwartz, so he capped island feet in stainless steel and wrapped the base with a marble toe-kick. Virtually all the kitchen wall surfaces are clad in painted wood or marble, he notes, to ensure durability and easy maintenance. “This kitchen is very heavily utilized,” Schwarz says, “so function was as important as style.”
Brooklyn interior designer Erica Feiger suggested the oak floor rather than stone—another family-friendly choice. “It’s much warmer—and better for a family with young children,” she says. The floors were finished with a custom silver-tinted stain.
“The glamour look evolved,” Schwartz says, “as we discussed mirrored glass on the refrigerators, intersecting tracery mullions on the glassed doors of the wall cabinetry, and underlighting at the island.”
A graceful bow window provided the inspiration for the room’s design. Schwartz built cabinet bases with concave faces to follow the curvature of the wall and set the kitchen’s main sink below the curved bank of windows. The windows are softened with a feminine balloon shade trimmed with pom-poms and topped with a monogrammed cornice. “The fabric is so pretty and unexpected,” Feiger says. “We love fun touches.”
In the opposing corner (the dairy area), Schwartz placed a smaller range with a gently curved backsplash that also mimics the curve of the bow window wall.
As part of the renovation, Fay Blier, another Brooklyn designer, captured space from an existing deck to add a circular dining areanext to the kitchen. While the family uses the room for informal dinners and entertaining, it also serves as a sukkah, the venue for the Jewish fall festival of Sukkot.
A large skylight in the bamboo ceiling partially opens the spot to the outdoors, making the room reminiscent of ancient walled structures covered with plant materials.
Shelves and a curved banquette are tucked between the new windows with lead mullions and wavy “water” glass. Feiger allowed for plenty of seating at an expandable round table with an embossed leather top and black lacquered legs.
Black and silver fabrics and furnishings repeat the kitchen’s elegant palette, helping to unify the two rooms. “The goal was to create a grandeur of space and make it interactive,” says Schwartz, “so the spaces could co-exist as one room.”
Photography: Francesco Lagnese
Produced by Pamela Abrahams
Kitchen design: Robert Schwartz, St. Charles Kitchen, Architects & Designers Building, 150 E. 58th St., Suite 804, New York, NY 10155; 212/838-2812, stcharlesofnewyork.com .
Architectural design: Fay Blier, Concepts by Design, 347/844-0029.
Interior design: Erica Feiger, 917/974-2913.
The original kitchen was not spacious and inviting enough to serve as the growing family’s home hub.
A Wolf range is set into a marble niche. Sub-Zero refrigerators flanking the range have mirrored doors partially tiled in marble and millwork to enhance the hearth look and create symmetry.
Sliding spice racks and additional storage are cleverly concealed behind the marble façade for organization and convenience. “One of the driving forces was the white quartzite tops, with beautiful light silver and black veining,” says designer Robert Schwartz.
Kitchen Island BEFORE
The kitchen island cut the previous space in half, inhibiting the kitchen’s easy flow.
Kitchen Island AFTER
The underside of the quartzite-topped island is illuminated with LED lights. The large island is a favorite place for the family to have quick meals and hang out. Silver barstools are from Artistic Frame.
Details on the following slide.
Stainless steel feet and a marble toe-kick protect the base of the black-painted island. Floors are English oak with a silver-gray finish. The owner selected wood rather than stone because wood provides a warm ambience and is more resilient—kinder to the cook’s back and feet and less likely to result in broken dishes.
A tall pull-out pantry door is tucked behind the Miele built-in coffee station.
Calacatta Gold marble tile backsplashes and white quartzite slab countertops lend elegance to the space while providing durable and easy-care work surfaces.
Custom-designed black cabinets from St. Charles are accessorized with glittering Swarovski hardware and delicate bead trim painted silver.
St. Charles cabinets with arched mullions store dishes in the dairy area of the kosher kitchen. The wall-mounted faucet, sprayer, and soap dispenser are from Harrington.
The Artistic Frame table has an embossed leather top trimmed with nailheads. A curved banquette is tucked under shelves.