Top Shelf: Introducing “The Perfect Kitchen” by Barbara Salick


Design icon, author and co-founder of Waterworks, Barbara Sallick, is getting ready to release her second book—The Perfect Kitchen—a robust collection of stunning kitchens, designed by the world’s top talent. Not just a great resource for inspiration and visual splendor, the book also provides practical advice on how to design a dream kitchen. Here we share an excerpt from Sallick’s introduction in addition to select images from the book.

Kitchen by Martyn Lawrence Bullard Design. Photo by Victoria Pearson.

“A few years back, a highly regarded and very talented New York architect was engaged to design a dream home for a wealthy client on the South Shore of Long Island. This man had the means to fulfill his most elaborate fantasies, and with his architect’s aid, he did—in spades. The outcome, which drew on Shingle Style precedents by Charles McKim, Stanford White, and other legendary practitioners, rambled for thousands of square feet in every direction, spanning game rooms, libraries, parlors, salons, porches, dining halls, and countless bedrooms supported by sitting areas, dressing rooms, and baths. 

The architect, who had managed to pull off this programmatic feat with elegance and restraint, was justifiably proud of what he’d accomplished. But when asked which of the many rooms his client preferred above all the others, he sighed philosophically. “Mostly the guy hangs out in the kitchen,” he said, “like the rest of us.” 

This story reminds us that we’ve come full circle in recent years. The original room, as it were, was the kitchen: back in the Stone Age, you had a cave with a fire on which you prepared your bronto burgers, and that was pretty much it. In the thousands of years since, residences have gotten bigger, rooms have been added, and functions have multiplied beyond our wildest imaginings. Yet despite the many millennia of progress, like latter-day Flintstones, we’ve gravitated back to that essential space— and to the idea of the kitchen as home. 

Kitchen by Bonesteel Trout Hall. Photo by Meghan Beierle-O’Brien.

The role of the kitchen has certainly evolved over time. In the great homes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the room was almost completely disconnected from a residence’s public spaces and seldom part of the larger decorative environment. Tellingly, when you look through books featuring the work of great prewar decorators like Dorothy Draper and Frances Elkins, the kitchens aren’t featured. Why would anyone who aspired to a gracious style of living want to look at a lot of sinks and stoves? 

Kitchen design by Gachot in collaboration with Paul Fortune. Photo by William Abranowicz.

Today, by contrast, architects and designers spend a great deal of time adding enough square footage to accommodate kitchens, breakfast rooms, and dens—the holy trinity of modern living—when renovating classic homes. They also explicitly connect these rooms to more formal spaces, which are typically reserved for special occasions.”

CLICK HERE for more information and to pre-order The Perfect Kitchen, published by Rizzoli.

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