Design Challenge: Through the Window

In the world of luxury kitchen design, designers and clients alike seek to achieve a level of grandeur in their work– perhaps in the form of a drop dead gorgeous burgundy La Cornue island, a statement light fixture, or a massive semiprecious countertop. But sometimes these heavy-hitters are simply too big to be brought up in an elevator or up the stairs – what then? 

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Let us take a scenario I recently encountered in for a client with an elegantly appointed loft on the upper east side. The client wanted a 9 x 5 foot Carrara marble island; one continuous, giant slab. This piece, however, couldn’t fit even horizontally in the largest elevator in the building!

While the facades of luxury high-rises in Manhattan echo grandeur of an earlier time, their interiors especially back and service entrances often also reflect an older period- one of far more diminutive proportions! These narrow staircases and petite elevators were truly not built for the rigors of modern construction nor the magnitude of modern taste.

The alternative: We take out the windows and hoist the giant countertop in on a crane!

Fortunately, kitchen designers are not alone in their woes of spacial constraints. Often the decorator will need the crane as well to bring in an oversize sofa, large works of art, or (classically) a grand piano.

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These pieces are brought up near the end of the job, when almost everything else is in place. Decorators, designers, and architects team up to ensure that all oversize items are coordinated to be hoisted up on the same day. Often the entire street will have to be blocked off for several to accommodate the crane as it carefully hauls up materials piece by piece.

While attempting to install a kitchen on the twentieth (or higher!) floor poses significant challenges, private houses are often just as difficult if not more challenging to install. Fortunately many kitchens are built on the ground floor of the home but, as to any rule, there are always exceptions. When I renovated the kitchen for a brownstone in Brooklyn where the kitchen was situated on the second floor (pictured left). The design of the kitchen was sleek and I specified some heavy-hitting appliances that would suit the needs of a busy family and high volume kitchen: a large integrated Sub Zero refrigerator and a Wolf range.

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Normally these appliances can be brought up (thankfully) in a service elevator for apartment buildings; but here, there was no service elevator and the stairs in the house curved gracefully in a way that would simply not accommodate their substantial size. As a result, these two appliances had to be hoisted by crane up just one story to that second floor and brought in via the balcony. A lot of work for such a short distance.

The added effort (and drama) that can arise from designing and installing on a larger scale, makes these kitchens just that much more special and unique. It allows the kitchen to acquire a narrative ofits own- and isn’t that what having a custom kitchen design all about? So for your next project feel free to dream large, but be aware that the oversize pieces require substantial productions to execute! 


A Look Inside My Kitchen in NYC

Designing my own kitchen was a great pleasure, because I knew just what I wanted–both from a cooking and a design perspective. That’s why I’m so glad I was able to share my project with Better Homes and Gardens’ Kitchens & Baths magazine in their Winter 2012 issue. As anyone who lives in NYC knows, space is precious and always a challenge. However, there are solutions to create more out of less.  I shared some of my space maximizing tips and tricks with the magazine’s editors. Below are a few key things I kept in mind when thinking about my kitchen planning.

Consider counter space: While more counter space may seem like a good idea, it can be a catchall for all kinds of clutter.  In the cooking zone, for example, you only need enough counter space to use as a landing spot for a pan, a platter, or a spatula.

Add variety: Use different materials in the same cabinent type or the same elevation–it can change the overall architectural feel of the room.

I’ve shared some pages of the feature with you here. It’s also on St Charles USA‘s Facebook page and the issue is available at newsstands now. Thanks to Better Homes and Gardens’ Kitchens and Baths!

Happy reading!

~Karen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Kicking Off the Holidays with BiTTT

I’m so proud to be a supporter of BiTTT, Bring it to the Table, a leading networking group for women in design. The growth the group has experienced in the two years since its inception has been truly moving. Together, we are now hoping to make a difference in a young woman’s life. St Charles is delighted to be a sponsor of the Holiday Fundraising Party they are hosting on Thursday, November 15 to raise funds for a female, full-time BFA sophomore at NYSID. Eligible students applied by writing an essay describing what motivated them study interior design and submitting photos of a residential design project.

In addition to being presented with an award at the event by BiTTT founder Lana Lawrence and interior designer Alexa Hampton, the winning student will be mentored for the remaining three years of her study at NYSID by designers including myself, Katie Ridder, David Kleinberg, and others. As a parent, I know how important the proper guidance, mentoring and encouragement can be, and I am honored to be able to play such a significant role in the life of a student who represents the future of interior design. I absolutely cannot wait to meet this special young lady and I am looking forward to helping and watching her grow into a successful, devoted and inspiring designer!

~Karen Williams