Susan Drake:I can't take credit for that, they were already there when I came in. The house is on Long Island Sound, and the client didn't want to lose any of the view. Originally the sink was where the cooktop is now — so she could rinse lettuce and look out at the water — and the refrigerator was on the other side of the island. But they were too far apart. In the classic kitchen triangle, 65 percent of the traffic is from the refrigerator to the sink. My job was to get them closer together.
So where's the sink now?
On the island, where the cooktop used to be. That was another problem, because it wasn't properly ventilated. Four burners and a grill produce a lot of greasy residue. If you don't get it out of the room, it's going to go on your upholstery, curtains, and rugs. So we moved the cooktop over to the outside wall, where it could be vented.
Did the refrigerator stay in the same place?
No, it moved to where the wall ovens used to be.
This is beginning to sound like musical chairs.
You're moving each piece of a puzzle to a new spot, but you still have to make them fit, because we couldn't move walls or do any major surgery. The biggest challenge was that the client's 48-inch refrigerator was too big for the wall-oven niche, and the breakthrough came when we decided to split up the refrigerator and the freezer. A 30-inch refrigerator fit into the oven niche, and an 18-inch freezer slid into the old refrigerator niche, alongside the 30-inch wall ovens, which also moved there.
Brilliant. You tightened the triangle and it all fit.
Except for a second sink, which the client was hoping to squeeze in. But there was no room in the kitchen, so we put a small sink in the pantry. Then, to try to compensate, we made the one sink in the kitchen large enough for two people to work side by side. And it has two faucets, which actually makes it feasible to do prep and cleanup in the same sink at the same time.
That's a very high-tech faucet for a traditional kitchen.
I just fell in love with it when I saw it. You don't need a separate spray nozzle because the whole thing bends in every direction. It's crazy—as hard as we worked on every element of this kitchen, it's the first thing people notice. They walk in and say: 'Wow! Look at that faucet.'
Why did you do a curved counter on the island?
Originally both sides were curved, and the cabinet itself curved, too, which meant you had these oddly shaped drawers. No drawer organizers would fit, and my client likes to be very organized. So we rebuilt the cabinet and planned every inch of the interior space, so every utensil, pot, and pan has its place. The only curve that survived was that countertop, because she liked it, and it makes the island feel less blocky.
It also echoes the curve of the banquette.
That was already here, too. We just refinished it to match the color we chose for the new cabinets. It's the color you see on old dark pieces of driftwood, and it can go from charcoal to eggplant to a grayed blue depending on the light. And a bit of white pumice stayed in the grain, which reminds me of sand.
What are the countertops made of?
Limestone in a mildly mottled, pretty pale gray. Again, it's kind of driftwoody, beachy.
Isn't limestone very porous?
Yes. We sealed it, but we all agreed that it was going to take on a certain amount of patina. And that's all right. This kitchen will look even better with time.
Get the look...
Refrigerator and freezer: .
Faucets and sink: .
Chairback hardware: .