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Designing a Dining Room and Kitchen


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The designer of Restaurant LuLu in San Francisco, Townline BBQ in Sagaponack, N.Y., and BLT Steak in Atlanta offers suggestions on what makes a home dining room "pop".

 

One eye-catching element is essential, but don't over do the element. A fireplace, or a piece of art, or a great view can do that role. In his San Francisco and New York homes, a drop dead city view is presented.

 

The sight of an open kitchen, too, can offer the feeling of "food as theater, cooking as action and drama," he says. Unless you often throw fancy parties with hired chefs working behind closed doors, formal, closed-off dining rooms feel like relics, he says.

 

When designing an open kitchen in a home, Mr. Smith tries to make the cooking area "look less like a kitchen" and have the colors, finishes and cabinetry blend in with the décor of the dining room. Instead of having open shelves or many cabinets filled with food, for example, Mr. Smith likes constructing a pantry with a door that melds with the décor.

 

Mr. Smith may make the refrigerator work more like a piece of art by choosing one with glass doors, providing a view of nicely arranged food within. "People want to see the produce—the tomatoes before they're cut up, the avocados before they're turned into guacamole," he says, noting that the concept is employed in restaurants that display shellfish on ice.

 

This sounds like a great idea, but if I had a nickel for every sloppy fridge with a nice glass door...

 

Mr. Smith believes the recent trend of farm-to-table food and décor in restaurants works especially well at home, given that many of these restaurants are designed to look as if "you went into somebody's home and the owner was really into cooking." The key element for this look is an eye-catching large table made of wood. Often the piece looks rustic rather than polished, says Mr. Smith, who favors tables made of a local material, such as wood from trees indigenous to the area. Other elements of a rustic look include reclaimed lumber, exposed steel and earthy colors.

 

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Mr. Smith may make the refrigerator work more like a piece of art by choosing one with glass doors, providing a view of nicely arranged food within. "People want to see the produce—the tomatoes before they're cut up, the avocados before they're turned into guacamole," he says, noting that the concept is employed in restaurants that display shellfish on ice.

 

 

I have a hard time taking kitchen design advice from someone who thinks you should refrigerate tomatoes.

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