Each week, Mansion Global tackles a topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week, we discuss tips for creating a back kitchen.
Back kitchens are making a comeback.
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Cathy Purple Cherry, founding principal at Purple Cherry Architects in Annapolis, Maryland, said she’s seen a 30% increase in requests for back kitchens in the past two years or so, as folks are spending more time entertaining at home.
Sometimes also called a scullery, a back kitchen is different from a butler’s pantry––a room commonly used for securing tableware and polishing silver––and often ideal in a home with an open layout. This multifunctional, yet stylish, room adjacent to the main kitchen may feature appliances, workspace and storage to keep clutter at bay in the main kitchen.
“The back kitchen is becoming a space that can serve as the dumping ground or messy area––think beverage center, coffee station, snack area, mail drop, etc.,” Ms. Purple Cherry said.
We checked in with several designers who shared their thoughts on designing a back kitchen. Here’s what they recommend.
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Dedicate Enough Space
“Don’t plan a back kitchen unless you have enough room for it to accommodate a caterer or hired chef. If you have the luxury of a secondary space then the family kitchen becomes more of a gathering space for breakfast and weekend activity, whereas a back kitchen is probably where a live-in chef or household staff can cook and prepare food for larger gatherings, entertaining or their own meals to keep out of the way of the family.
“Consider if it’s to be a showplace or a work space. Think about how useful it will really be, and how often it will be used. There’s definitely a more practical approach, with an emphasis on easy-to-clean, hygienic surfaces, wipe-down cabinetry, and easy-to-clean flooring. That said, these are not commercial kitchens and still have a lot of visual appeal.”
— Christopher Peacock, founder and CEO of Christopher Peacock Cabinetry in Norwalk, Connecticut
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Design to Suit Your Lifestyle
“If the client is organized (they’re more inclined to tuck everything back into its place), I love incorporating glass cabinets where back kitchen accouterments and appliances can be displayed and styled for all to see.
“For those who lean toward a more erratic storage system, I like to push materials and architectural decisions that help with concealment––like adding a pocket door to give the option of closing off the back kitchen from the primary one where everyone gathers.
“There are many clients who desire a cohesive design and therefore the back kitchen would be a very similar finish, color tone and design style. However, if a client is open to change, the back kitchen is a great opportunity to have fun. That fun can include wire mesh in the door paneling, bold backsplash tile, fun tile patterns on the floor or fun lighting.
“In addition, the back kitchen is visible from the main entertaining or kitchen area, so make use of those sight lines to do something special at the back kitchen opening, whether a tiny wine cellar, a powder blue chicken rotisserie, or farmhouse sink with a beautiful blue black splash.”
— Architect Cathy Purple Cherry in Annapolis, Maryland
Function First, Then Personality
“A back kitchen is the perfect opportunity to inject a little more personality into a space than you might in your primary kitchen. You can be a little more bold than the main kitchen––deep colors, maybe a splashier backsplash.
“I would be thoughtful about how you will use it and incorporate the programs you need into this space first. It needs to function before it gets some personality. Then work on how to make it beautiful and experiential.”
— Liz Caan, owner of Liz Caan Interiors in Newton, Massachusetts
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The Devil Is in the Details
“Think about these spaces as not purely utilitarian but as an added destination. These bonus spaces can be the ‘unique specialty’ space that expands your kitchen.
“A great wallpaper can make an utilitarian space extra special rather than just a secondary space. Have fun and create a surprise off your kitchen that is functional but one you want to go to.
“Maybe incorporate a coffee bar, breakfast bar or a place for the utilities like a toaster you don’t want left on your counter; or maybe etch a glass door with the word ‘pantry.’. The devil is in the details, especially in unique, unexpected spaces.”
— Cindy Rinfret, owner of Rinfret, Ltd. in Greenwich, Connecticut
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