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Cabinet finishes are a mix of laminate and glass, matte and glossy textures. A countertop “bridge” connects the prep and cleanup island (left) to the bar area (right). “We wanted a seating area that was tablelike, with the family facing each other, rather than bar seating,” says homeowner Matt Mulvihill.
SIZE 350 square feet
It’s a familiar story. Two young marrieds living in the city have a baby. Suddenly amenities that didn’t matter when they were childless—such as backyards and local schools—begin to take on new importance. By the time the second baby comes along, they’ve made the decision: It’s time to move. But relocating to Elmhurst didn’t mean Matt and Leslie Mulvihill were willing to give up their urban-cool aesthetic. Their new house would be contemporary in style, energy efficient, and technologically cutting edge. At the center of it all would be a practical but eye-catching kitchen.
“We wanted a clean, symmetrical look with textures that matched and enhanced the rest of the home,” says Matt Mulvihill. “We wanted it to be very open and functional, with lots of countertop space for entertaining and cooking. Having abundant storage to hide everything was also important.”
The Mulvihills turned to Colette Rodon-Hornof and Kelly Brown at the kitchen design studio Vesta to make that vision a reality. “Our number one focus for each project is to find out how people are going to use their kitchen,” says Rodon-Hornof. In the case of the Mulvihills, the room had to transition easily from afterschool snacks and family dinners to evening cocktails with friends.
Architect Jeffrey Funke designed the crisply contemporary house.
To integrate these functions, Brown designed a nontraditional island as the room’s centerpiece. The section closest to the refrigerator, ovens, and cooktop was designated the prep and cleanup area. Another section, adjacent to the dining room, became a bar area with an icemaker and wine storage; glasses and liquor are within easy reach in a nearby cabinet. The countertop “bridge” connecting the two pieces adds a striking graphic element. “We like to think of different planes intersecting,” says Brown.
The Leicht cabinets were designed to keep clutter under control. A hood for the cooktop slides out of the way when not in use, and the microwave and coffeemaker are kept out of sight on their own designated shelves. “It’s great that we can just close the door and all that stuff disappears,” says Matt. There’s even a charging station where cell phones can be stashed overnight. “It’s the modern-day version of a junk drawer,” says Brown.