2001: A Space Odyssey for the kitchen

A husband and wife in Connecticut found they spent more time in the kitchen than in any other room of the house. Whether preparing meals, entertaining friends, or working on their business, they always seemed to gravitate to the space. But the more they looked around, the more they realized that their existing kitchen–with its low ceiling and dark-stained cabinets–was pretty ho-hum. If this room was going to be so important to the family, shouldn’t it look and feel spectacular? The owners envisioned a space that was big, bold, and, most importantly, not the least bit boring.

Enter designer William Diamond and architect Anthony Baratta, the NewYork-based design team known for headturning, eye-popping interior schemes (page 38). "The clients said, ‘We want to do something gutsy.’ And no one is as crazy as we are," quips Diamond, who joined design forces with Baratta about 20 years ago. Armed with limitless imagination and an unwavering sense of detail, they crafted a total transformation of the kitchen. "We wanted it to be like a kitchen in an English country home," says Diamond. "They were these big kitchen halls, with huge ceilings."

The designers gutted the existing kitchen and two adjacent rooms to make a combination prep area, dining pavilion, and home office. They also removed a bedroom and a bathroom directly above the kitchen, creating a two-story ceiling topped with a cupola. "We did this wonderful tray ceiling made with little pieces of planking," says Diamond. "It was built like the hull of a boat."

Exaggerated arches, from the glass-fronted cabinets to the windows in the dining pavilion, lend a palatial quality to the space. In the center of the kitchen, a glass-topped skylight well seems to rise to the heavens. "That’s very Diamond & Baratta," Diamond says about the larger-thanlife size of the room’s details. "We find scale very exciting."

Something else that sends the designers’ pulses racing: color. In their projects, the team likes to use what they call "totally off-primary" colors. "The red is ‘barnier’ than classic red; the yellow is more golden," says Diamond. In this kitchen, floor tiles in a playful checkerboard of butterscotch yellow and barn red lead the eye to the long, farmhouse-style work island. The dining pavilion exudes sunny warmth, thanks to a striped wallcovering in golden yellow and buttery cream.

In keeping with the look and feel of the kitchen, the designers selected furnishings that were at once grand in scale and graceful in detail. Barstool-height Windsor chairs painted a green-tinged mustard color cozy up to the center island. The furnishings feel right at home inside this architecturally endowed kitchen. "The room doesn’t feel enormous," says Diamond. Instead, there is a graciousness to the space that makes it inviting and livable.

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