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Balancing Act General Contractors: Jimmy Higginbotham, F.J. Brassette Designer: L. Craig Smith Homeowners: Louise Partello and Phil Gardner For a serious cook like Louise Partello, a highly functional kitchen was in demand. It was also overdue for a renovation, since nothing had ever been done to overhaul its historic interior. Sticking with the same basic configuration and keeping the large windows intact, Houston-based interior designer L. Craig Smith redesigned and modernized the spacious area with lofty ceilings to help accommodate Louise’s culinary dreams. Saturated with color, the kitchen is a definite departure from your typical all-white variety. “Red became the perfect neutral backdrop for the art,” Smith says, referring to Louise’s whimsical collection of Italian and Mexican ceramics and colorful woven baskets. Together with the cayenne-red walls, the caramel-colored vertically staved cabinets, bookshelves and paneled appliances warm up the room. “I had seen Louise’s collection of cookbooks so I knew she needed a lot of space for them,” says Smith. “The back wall gave us plenty of room for a nice-sized pantry and then a row of bookcases to balance out that end of the kitchen.” Anchoring the kitchen is an oversized metal rack for storing Louise’s sophisticated cookware and large-handled copper pots, but Smith wanted to make it the focal point and help “lower” the 12-foot ceilings. Four antique butcher’s racks were added to form the corners of the larger hanging pot rack, and Smith hired Houston metalsmith Ray Bowman to weld them together.

Louise Partello and Phil Gardner kitchen

Custom Comfort Designer: Pam Perret Scheme Interior Design Homeowners: Ken and Kristi Breaux One can’t help but fall in love with this one-of-a-kind kitchen stocked with state-of-the-art, stainless-steel appliances and custom-crafted cabinets. Equally impressive are the beautiful vistas it affords of a sprawling terrace and Lake Pontchartrain. When designing their new kitchen, Ken and Kristi Breaux wanted something contemporary, unique and formal. “They didn’t want a traditional kitchen with raised-panel or stained cabinets,” says interior designer Pam Perret. “We were looking for something unique, not from your run-of-the-mill cabinet stores.” The warm tones of the exotic, custom-built birds-eye maple cabinets exude a furniture-like quality and contrast beautifully with the stainless-steel appliances and dark granite surfaces. Since the condominium’s construction was partially complete, the kitchen space was designated, but not set in stone. “We had just the shape of the kitchen to work with, so some spaces couldn’t be reconfigured,” Perret says. She opted to leave out an island, so as to create an open feel. “We didn’t want the traditional kitchen look that an island gives.” Also, she says, “Because you can see all the way past the living area out to the lake, we didn’t want any obstructions.” And the Breauxs wanted their kitchen to comfortably accommodate two cooks at once. It is a kitchen that bespeaks a rare kind of decadence. “The beauty here is we were working with large appliances and corners,” Perret says. “It wouldn’t have been the same kitchen at all if we had to buy stock cabinets and use fillers.” Both form and function were put to the test not long after its completion: Ken and Kristi were married out on the balcony, and their new kitchen turned out to be the perfect spot to entertain.

Ken and Kristi Breaux kitchen

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