A fine kitchen remains the heart of any home

Modern. Spacious. Expensive. Those would seem to be the three essential words used to brief any designer of truly contemporary kitchens. As one of the most important spaces in any house, though, this is one room where function really ought to surpass form. The living heart of any home, the kitchen needs to cater to the creation of gourmet standard cuisine when guests need to be impressed, while also being a relaxed enough space for informal family eating when casual is the watchword of the day.

From quaint Spanish villas to rambling ranches to hideaways in South American rainforests, the quirky to the seamlessly modern – the kitchens showcased all bring something different to the table. As with the fine fare they will ultimately be called upon to deliver, it’s all a matter of taste.

Home on the Range
The most expansive dwelling on show this month – with the cost of its kitchen accordingly high – comes courtesy of this highly salubrious dwelling nestled in California’s Napa Valley. Such is the extent of the actual premises and its surrounding land that it is technically deemed a ranch. Originally built in the 1920s, it is now valued at tens of millions of US dollars. Given that it comprises of 12 bedrooms – five with en-suite bathrooms – a wine cellar, a swimming pool and sauna, a kitchen with a wood-fired oven, a six-car garage and accompanying stables, the price tag is hardly a surprise. The kitchen itself is a grandiose affair, complete with open-plan, stylish stone flooring and luxurious seating. This is a truly joyous space, ideal for family time or for serious, high volume food preparation whenever that may be required.

Height of Success
Majoring on altitude with attitude, this picturesque snow retreat combines the ultra-modern with some very fine homely touches. Set in Colorado’s McLain Flats, one of the world’s foremost skiing destinations, this stylish residence was designed by Steve Whipple, co-founder of the award-wining Whipple & Brewster architectural partnership. Explaining his vision for the site, Whipple says: “I wanted to create the true Colorado experience. I saw it as a home fit for a sophisticated family, one that valued the seclusion of such a rural setting, but one that also valued the convenience of being only minutes from the bustle of downtown.”

The kitchen itself is a seamless mix of marbled benchtops, woodgrain cabinets and ultra-modern aluminum-finish appliances, with a cosy sandstone tiled floor completing the look. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Aspen ski slopes, it is unlikely any chef ever had a better view.

Copywrighted Photo from Alan's Studio on Main

Ibicenco Fantastico
For those seeking a truly rustic retreat, this charming Spanish kitchen is pretty much ideal. Entirely in keeping with the ensemble feel of this delightfully Moroccan-style dwelling, set in the very heart of Ibiza, the centre point of its kitchen space features three interlocking crescent moons, fetchingly framed against a blue night-sky background. At first glance, this conceit appears to be a gold-tiled pyramid set above the workspace, while it is actually a well-concealed ventilation duct. Other features of this sumptuous space include a lattice door frame with a blue and white mosaic emblem and a large, gold-hued metal and glass lamp suspended above a simply fashioned wooden kitchen table and matching chairs.

Upper Phillimore Gardens
For something truly regal – and with a price tag to match – there are few better options than Upper Phillimore Gardens, which occupies a prime location in one of London’s most desirable residential areas. Valued at $128 million ($HK994.1 million), this 10-bedroom, 10-bathroom mini-mansion comes with a stylish gold and marble interior throughout. Its impressive list of additional features includes an underground swimming pool, a sauna, a gym, a roof terrace and even a panic room – a boon for any suddenly hard-up owner who finds himself worrying about just how to pay the mortgage.

Thankfully, the kitchen in this rather splendid residence is far from being a disappointment. Doubling up as a breakfast room, it is a comparatively informal setting, complete with generous south-facing windows that perfectly draw in the natural light of early morning. At present, it is home to Olena Pinchuk, daughter of an ex-president of Ukraine and a friend of Elton John.

French Flair
For those seeking a kitchen space that incorporates a number of quirkier elements, any home masterminded by Xavier Fraud, the French architect and designer, might be worth a look. Set in Brittany, in northern France, the kitchen space of this particular residence effortlessly blends motifs from several architectural schools. Art deco stools – complete with flowing metal pipe formations and candy-coloured upholstery – starkly contrast with the austere industrial-era dining table and chairs. A more playful feel is bestowed by a large wall-mounted pop-art relief and a pair of sculpted wooden Contiki masks. While clearly not to everyone’s taste, somehow these disparate components create a whole that is uniquely apt.

Ample Proportions
La Maison des Deux Fleurs estate, set along the picturesque shoreline of Lake Michigan, is pretty much the embodiment of the classic contemporary look. This ambitious residence is the brainchild of Allen Musikantow, a Chicago-based real estate magnate. In partnership with Richard Bos, a renowned local architect, he oversaw the home’s construction – from concept to completion – in less than two years. Boasting ample room throughout, its state-of the-art kitchen is no exception. It features all the expected utilities, a large pantry and direct access to the adjoining dining and music rooms. One notably homely touch in the kitchen is its inglenook – a combined chimney corner and fireplace, which helps to keep the kitchen all toasty when the wind blows in from the Great Lakes.

Tropical Musings
Set amid the lush splendour of the Osa Peninsula on the Costa Rican coast, this mansion is just perfect for languid balmy evenings and days of relaxed reflection. Robles Arquitectos, the celebrated Central American architect firm, conceived the home as the last word in ecologically-responsible design. The designers were intent on making intelligent use of the available space while capitalising on the area’s ample mix of rain and sunshine, thus ensuring that the home is self-sufficient in terms of both its energy and water needs. Its generously proportioned kitchen, meanwhile, complete with counter serving, a dining table and lounge chairs, flows seamlessly into the entertainment area. It’s just about the perfect setting for a seafood supper, gently fanned by a light breeze through the extensive balcony window.

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