Detail, texture, and varied materials add color to this white canvas.
Artist Claire Melbourne doesn’t usually shy away from color, but for her US home in Westchester
County, New York, she wanted a “neat, clean” white kitchen reminiscent of Manhattan loft style. She kept it warm and inviting, though, with “color” brought in through the contrasts between materials and finishes—wood, stainless steel, marble—as well as fresh-cut flowers, pillows, and chairs.
Finding design inspiration was easy. Claire drew from years’ worth of dream-kitchen magazine clippings she had compiled in a book. Determining how the kitchen would function was also simple. It had to stand up to the frequent cooking and entertaining that Claire and her husband, Brian, love to do for family, friends, and colleagues, including their three teenage sons’ friends, who are regular visitors.
The Melbournes doubled their kitchen’s size during the second phase of their circa-1967 home’s two-part remodel. The room’s new open floor plan—with a steel beam hidden in the ceiling to eliminate the need for columns—is easy to navigate and allows plenty of space for the large marble-topped island and six-burner stove. “When people add more space, they often have a drop beam in the middle of the room,” architect Steve Helmes says. “We feathered this in so it doesn’t look like an addition.”
Claire worked closely with kitchen designer Kelly Bielefeldt to bring her creative vision into reality. “Claire came with her particulars,” Bielefeldt says. “A white kitchen with nice wood species in spots. A stain-grade island and refrigerator area. Stainless media. Interesting yet practical.”
The room’s perimeter is white and the center dark, which creates a focal point, Bielefeldt says. The eye is drawn to the honed-marble-topped island and then to the oversize stainless-steel refrigerator and freezer. These appliances, encased in dark wood cabinetry, create a visual divider between the kitchen’s core and the adjoining butler’s pantry and breakfast area. Claire wanted to keep the appliances’ steel fronts exposed to capture an industrial vibe.
“There’s a lot of detail that you can’t see right away,” Claire says. “It plays out in the reclaimed-wood floors, the modern cabinets, and stainless steel—all the different surfaces and the lighting.” The smooth stainless and marble subtly give way to the textures offered by three backsplashes, each with a different tile design, size, and shape, over the perimeter cabinetry, behind the range, and in the butler’s pantry.
With her blank canvas now enhanced with the right materials, Claire spends much of her non-painting time working her creative magic in the kitchen. The result of a clear vision, this kitchen now serves as a source of inspiration itself.
OPPOSITE: Built into floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, the extra-wide refrigerator and freezer form a partition wall that separates the kitchen from the butler’s pantry and breakfast area. Tall storage cupboards with multiple shelves store dry goods on either side of the appliances.
TOP: Texture abounds in the breakfast nook, where sea-grass chairs pull up to a concrete-and-wood table.
RIOHT: In the butler’s pantry, a beverage station with a prep sink and wine cooler keeps drinks flowing and glasses full during parties.