Counter Intelligence

1. Task and ambient light While recessed lights provide a general glow, hanging pendants give the eye a place to focus. Under-cabinet lighting adds to the ambience and illuminates the counter’s work surface.

[sidebar]2. Bouncing natural light Strategically placed mirrors can reflect natural light around a room, especially when they’re hung opposite a window.

3. Color palette: Bright accents, such as the red seating, add vitality to the neutral color scheme. The layout calls attention to the white surfaces, while the dark gray walls recede into the background.

4. Storage and seating: The space underneath a built-in bench makes for useful storage. Soft, movable chairs flank the fireplace and lend the kitchen a lived-in feel.

5. Marble counters: Made from honed Imperial Danby marble, the counters are 1¼-inches thick. Honed stone eliminates the final stage of polishing and affords a non-reflective surface.

6. Room width: The minimum width required to comfortably accommodate an island between two working counters is 10 feet; a 48–inch-wide island is luxurious.

7. Clever plumbing: The sink in the center of the island is controlled by foot pedals, which lets the cook use both hands during food prep. A handy water tap above the stove allows easy water access.

8. Sink with a view: An entire wall of windows lets light in (and eliminates upper cabinets, which are hard to reach, anyway). Artwork is an excellent substitute for rooms with no vistas.

Chris Grimley and Mimi Love coauthored color, space, style (Rockport Press, 2007), a reference handbook to intaerior design. They are principals at Over, Under and Utile Inc., respectively, and collaborate on multidisciplinary design projects.