Behind This Aesthetics-First Kitchen That Still Values Functionality


marble island neutral kitchen

In a Dallas kitchen, architect Jason Erik Smith chose Ann Sacks’ Pietra Statuario for the island, which features a Houzer sink and Blanco faucet. “With four children, the island needed to be heroic,” Smith recalls.

The words “calm” and “kitchen” don’t always walk hand in hand. But for a Texas couple with four children, a Zen cooking hub was wish number one for their new home in the tony Dallas suburb of University Park.

“The idea was not to think of it as a kitchen, but as a beautiful space that happens to have all the amenities and comforts of one,” explains architect Jason Erik Smith. To meet this brief, the team at Smitharc Architects prioritized concealing as much visual clutter as possible. Along the north wall, a series of discreet doors encloses both refrigerator and dishware storage. Beyond, in the handsome back-of-house area, a shallow corridor hosts built-in small appliances before revealing a walk-in pantry and coffee bar. And equal parts design statement and workhorse, the impressive, 15-foot-long sintered porcelain island houses two dishwashers and a downdraft cooktop, in addition to generous drawer space.

With its organic material procession, the storage- savvy kitchen flows seamlessly into the open- concept great room—but that’s not to say it feels indistinct. To delineate, the architects carried the rift-sawn white-oak flooring up the wall and across the ceiling like a ribbon on a gift. “What this does is create a room within a room,” Smith explains. “It’s a strategy we like to use to create intimacy within a big, open space.”

Rounding out the interiors, designer Jean Liu employed furnishings with clean lines and stalwart tendencies. A laminate top Saarinen table joined by walnut Cherner dining chairs creates a dégagé set-up for homework sessions and cocktail parties alike, while soaring Pindler curtain sheers and custom sisal rugs lend warmth and softness to the minimal scheme. “A limited color palette will always tone down hustle and bustle,” notes the designer, adding, “Every last detail in this space is choreographed, which creates a sense of serenity and calmness.”