With bright ideas and expanded square footage, Ralph Lauren Home¡¯s VP of marketing and communications, Adrian Kahan, gets a kitchen that really cooks.
A tiny kitchen isn¡¯t the end of the world. For 20 years at our house on Long Island, my husband, Bobby, and I made dinners for 12 probably hundreds of times¡ªand in a room measuring no more than 4 feet wide by 7 feet long. That¡¯s smaller than the kitchen in our Manhattan apartment! But when we decided to do some renovations to the house, it became an opportunity to think big.
Bobby and I love to entertain. We cook comfort food, not ¡°cuisine¡±¡ªhe makes a wonderful rack of lamb and a zesty lobster Fra Diavolo. So a better kitchen had always been one of our dreams. There wasn¡¯t sufficient counter space or a high-quality stove; an electric one came with the house when we bought it in 1987, and Bobby wanted a gas range with a lot of heat and power. The new kitchen had to be open, sunny, and friendly and have enough space for us to work and have friends around.
I had been tear-sheeting fantasy kitchens forever, but our architect, Frank Greenwald, added some reality. One of the first things he asked me was, ¡°You don¡¯t want overhead cabinets, so where are you going to put everything?¡± Good question. The solution was to have three rooms: a larder and a pantry for storage, and a kitchen with a big table in the center since we don¡¯t have a dining room. Working with Frank made us think in an organized fashion, so we also added five floor-to-ceiling closets and a coat closet in the pantry. Under the kitchen, we built a basement (the house didn¡¯t have one) with a laundry room.
One wall of the kitchen holds a large collection of cookbooks, and the shelves around the stove¡ªthey are painted plywood on lumberyard brackets¡ªshow off our cookie jars, which needed a nice home. The pantry is where I keep a phenomenal number of cocktail napkins embroidered with roosters and lots of vintage and Ralph Lauren Home china and glassware. I set the table depending on who is coming to dinner; if the main guest is an architect, for example, the table is pretty simple.
The kitchen is simple too. It doesn¡¯t knock you over and make you say, ¡°Oh, my God!¡± It¡¯s warm; it¡¯s who we are. And it has everything. Honestly, I could get rid of the rest of the house and just live here.