Have you ever dreamed of a sprawling, film-worthy kitchen? I have. (I’m an editor at Town & Country, after all.) Sunny, with a luxuriously oversized kitchen island—sometimes two! But despite my cinematic aspirations, my kitchen is none of these things. It is a small, dark canteen in the New York City rental apartment where my husband and I move in elaborate choreographies: If he is washing plates in the sink, then I have to move away from the stove, and if I am opening the dishwasher, he is stuck if he opens the refrigerator. There are zero islands. The counter is a patinaed Formica.
I’ve often wondered how we would change this kitchen if we could. We might not be able to make it any larger (a project for another home!), but we could make the existing space more functional, not to mention beautiful. We do plan to buy a place in the next year or so, and as we entertain and grow as a couple, it is becoming clear that we would love a kitchen that’s not just nice to show off when friends come over, but also works well for morning coffee or Monday night dinner.
Chances are, our first “real” home won’t come with an expansive kitchen either, but as we explore our options, we wanted to start thinking about what that eventual, similarly small-footprint space could look like. So we enlisted architect, interior designer, and former Next Waver Sarah Magness—who has renovated homes from a Manhattan penthouse to an Italian villa—to squeeze our kitchen daydreams into some limited square footage, as a wish list exercise of sorts.
“Even in small spaces you can create depth and design interest by layering different textures—for example, a warm terracotta tile with sleek stainless steel,” says the designer. “Or bring in a graphic pattern like a stenciled tile or checkerboard floor.”
Using the Thermador Leap into Luxury appliance packages as a starting point—because one can dream, right?—Magness configured three different options for us. We’re thinking of these as inspiration for our future kitchen (and you’ll find clever ideas you might want to try in your own cookspace too).
Timeless with a Twist
A blue and white kitchen feels so fresh, like it demands a bucket of hydrangeas be plopped on the counter.
In each kitchen scheme, Sarah balanced high-end materials with affordable luxuries, which lent a big visual impact, not a monetary one. Here, she paired top-quality appliances with a glazed tile backsplash to fully deliver on my movie kitchen inspiration.
“We incorporated reclaimed wood and the painted tiles so that the space has a handcrafted feel,” says Sarah. The Thermador appliances sit flush with the counters so that we could maximize the usable space. Plus, the Masterpiece Oven with Professional Handles is Wifi-enabled with Home Connect, which makes cooking easier than ever.
I strive to be as nonchalant as possible when hosting—with a crisp bottle of white wine and a loaf of fresh bread that just happen to be sitting on the counter. Rich terracotta floors and glazed white tile evoke this vision for me, while also being practical.
“Terracotta is a big trend right now and it can be a money-saver,” says Sarah. “So I splurged on the lava stone tiles, and together they offer a neutral alternative to white and gray.”
The Thermador Freestanding Refrigerator has French doors (my husband and I can stop trapping each other in the fridge that way), as well as a water filter and ice machine inside, so everything is sleek on the outside. Sarah staggered the sink and the stove so that he can be washing up while I make dinner—an ideal scenario since we like to be in the kitchen together…and because I am a messy cook (sorry, hubs!).
My husband has a thing for black and white checkered floors, but they give me late-night diner vibes. That was until Sarah elevated the floor with slate tiles for a look that is sophisticated, but not stuck-up, and now I’m a fan, too. I also love the black cabinets, which look so elegant with the white princess tile counters.
“Shou sugi ban cabinets are a charred cedar that looks incredible,” says Sarah. “And all New Yorkers love black and white.”
The Thermador Liberty Induction Cooktop is another asset here because it is easy to clean and uses less energy than a standard stove. By integrating it into the counter, we could then take better advantage of our space with a double-wall oven, which means we can host big dinners without tripping over each other in the kitchen. Smart design and investment pieces? It’s a win-win.
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