Kitchens of the Year 2019: Sweet Serendipity
"The shelving detail on the backsplash is killer." — Judge Maegan Swabb
Natural light pours down like honey from arched skylights that soar above the kitchen and living room space in a Del Mar home design by architect Rich Anderson and interior designers Michelle Salz-Smith, Jennifer Anderson and Juliet Luty of Studio Surface.
“We designed this modern farmhouse for clients who had to sell,” Michelle says. “They gave us carte blanche to create a family kitchen that would also work for entertaining with high-end appliances, two dishwashers and an adjoining butler’s pantry with a Dutch door that opens to the outside.”
The elegant, yet timeless kitchen, also appealed to the new homeowners, Natalie and Eric Ellingson—who had worked with Michelle before.
“We had been looking for a while for a bigger property,” Natalie explains. “We saw this house online and, the first thing we saw was the kitchen. It looked so fresh, modern and bright. We loved it. The way Michelle puts things together—mixing metals, her color choices and space planning—matches our style.”
The couple had no idea when they saw the house online that it was a creation from their own designer. “It’s really weird that it happened that way,” Natalie says. “It was literally just a complete coincidence.”
After going through several iterations with the architect (at first the kitchen was shifted way too far right, which didn’t feel complete or correct, Michelle says), the kitchen became the focal point of a great room that includes a dining space with custom wood shelves floating across the back windows and a living area with a 20-foot-tall, split-face stone fireplace. The fireplace aligns with the stovetop, which is housed in a to-the-ceiling arched, framed alcove—a design detail that creates a cozy yet modern hearth look.
On the back side, a butler’s pantry contains a sink for prep work and provides more countertop work surface as well as more storage space—not that there isn’t plenty of storage throughout the chef-friendly kitchen already.
“We use that back pantry way more than I imagined,” Natalie says. “The kids are getting older—they’re 9 and 12 now—and they love to make things themselves and cook on their own. They can create smoothies, bake and make a huge mess and it’s out of sight from the rest of the house.
“We all like to cook, and we cook together on weekends,” she continues. “It’s a fun space to be in all together.”