Kitchen Confidential

The heart of the home can be both serene and functional

For Elisa, kitchens epitomize the dualism of home design: a kitchen must achieve total functionality as well as complete serenity—characteristics that threaten to conflict if not expertly balanced. As such, Elisa considers kitchens successful when they meet the needs of the people who occupy them, while simultaneously providing them with a refuge from the hustle and bustle of their busy lives. “It’s a puzzle,” she says. “You are trying to take all of these pieces from a client and put them together in perfect union.” She designs homes—and specifically, kitchens—as harbors from the hectic world, and therefore the following “trends”—compiled for a feature on The Scout Guide—speak less of implementing new styles and more of responsively listening to individual living patterns.

Forget kids gloves

Some may shy away from using marble in a kitchen built for four young kids. Not Elisa: she finds beauty in the texture that accumulates with high traffic. Gone is the gloss of its original polished finish; now the island feels honed, like those found in historic villas in Italy. Far from finicky, the countertops tell the family’s story: of the red wine spilled by the father only months after moving in—the rose stain that seeped into the porous surface now only a memory shared with laughter (and praise of Comet); of the countless evenings spent making fresh pasta; of the kids hunching over their homework atop the island stools. Every element of this kitchen has proved to be user friendly, particularly the MVP marble.

Embrace color

To enliven a jewel-box guest cabin, Elisa applied pops of buoyant blue, including painting all of the custom cabinetry in the kitchen. Small spaces require multifunctional elements; everything must have a purpose. Color softens such functionality, introducing a refreshing brightness into quaint quarters, all while maintaining the calm of clean lines.

Let there be light

To breathe new life into a century-old homestead cabin (and its subsequent log addition), Elisa insisted on adding more light, even when the architect thought it impossible. By cutting the pair of panoramic panes and the portal above the backsplash, the kitchen now feels airy and expansive, a modern aesthetic underscored by the exquisite treatments used throughout, from the blackened steel hood to the walnut cabinetry and Taj Mahal quartzite slab island (topped by a bison-hide bowl). Historic and contemporary can coexist.

Timeless as trend

A mahogany-and-stone-clad kitchen still feels as sleek and new as when it was originally designed a decade ago. When Elisa thinks about trends, she often rests on what endures: functionality and serenity. No matter the style, a kitchen fulfills its purpose when it allows for effortless gathering around food—true of this kitchen with its expansive counterspace, all on the same plane. Seamless cooking and sharing have become a hallmark of the clean space, which makes it a testament to timelessness.

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