Dream Kitchens 2007: Island Living
Ellen and Michael Kaplan's house is 16 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s removed from the mainland, to be sure, but seclusion is hardly what Ellen seeks—especially not in her kitchen.
ELLEN AND MICHAEL KAPLAN’S HOUSE IS 16 MILES OFF THE coast of Massachusetts, in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s removed from the mainland, to be sure, but seclusion is hardly what Ellen seeks—especially not in her kitchen.
“It’s the room in which we spend the most time,” Ellen says. “When I’m cooking, it’s important for me to be involved with what’s going on in the space, and not to be isolated in a little portion of the room.” Nor did she want the New England quaintness typical of her locale. “Ellen wanted something very modern, clean and efficient,” says Jessica Williams, owner and designer of Duxbury-based Williams Design Studio.
With help from contractor James Cisek in Edgartown, Williams took on the challenge of transforming the Kaplans’ former kitchen, which she says was “pretty terrible—basically a cramped and narrow walkway,” into an open, inviting and functional area with a cosmopolitan style. To achieve this, Williams used a mix of gracefully curving lines and sleek stainless steel, created a wall of windows that lets light flow into the room, and chose sophisticated finishes such as Flos light fixtures, chocolate-brown paint with white trim, and caramel-colored—and eco-friendly—bamboo flooring.
Many design elements offer both practical and visual benefits: A convenient pantry has plenty of storage space, even for small appliances such as the coffeemaker (there’s a small spigot in the pantry for the express purpose of filling the coffee pot—Ellen says this is her husband’s favorite part of their new kitchen), and keeps the main room free of clutter and the need for intrusive upper cabinets. A small round sink near the door to the garden echoes the room’s curvy aesthetic, allows Ellen to wash up easily after digging in the dirt and serves as a drink station or extra prep sink during parties. A curved wall opens the dining room into the kitchen, giving the kitchen more physical space than a straight wall would and eliminating an awkward entrance.
And the most practical and visually pleasing part of this island kitchen is, in fact, an island. A combination of light wood and stainless steel (all the stainless steel is courtesy of Weiss Sheet Metal in Avon, Massachusetts; Martha’s Vineyard carpenter Dave Wiley custom-built the island and all the cabinetry), it features a six-burner Electrolux range and a large sink with a Bach faucet. Tucked beneath are stainless-steel rolling carts that, when pulled out, almost double the available working counter space—and allow easy separation of meat and dairy preparation, an important and thoughtful detail in this kosher kitchen. Above all, the island gives the sense of connectedness Ellen craved. “I love how the curved island faces out,” she says. “When I’m cooking, I’m really a part of the room.”