How to create a beautiful kitchen, ideal for entertaining

We're sure you'll agree that having a comfortable and stylish open-plan kitchen is key to a welcoming home. It's a hub to gather with family and friends for a cuppa after a long day, somewhere the children can do their homework while you prepare meals and the place to store a secret stash of macaroons for when you're feeling a bit peckish at midnight. To find the ultimate in kitchen style, and to mark Kitchen & Dining week at ACHICA in the process, we've gone searching for some stunning designs and discovered Mick de Giulio's eye-catching creations. You could no doubt comfortably entertain a guest or two in this wow-factor kitchen above, right? De Guilio has been designing innovative kitchens for almost 40 years, working for private clients as well as creating test and demonstration kitchens for leading companies. ‘A great kitchen has a magic to it that transforms the physical room into a feeling,’ says de Giulio. His recent projects include the kitchens for the Ritz-Carlton luxury condominium building in Chicago and he has also created product lines for Siematic. Here he talks us through some of his impressive kitchen:

How did you ensure this kitchen (above) links so beautifully to the living space beyond?

‘I always consider holistic design… meaning not just the cabinets, countertops and design elements, but connections to adjoining areas. In this case, I also designed cabinets in the family area that are the same dark walnut finish as the kitchen. Picking up on these allows both areas to connect and flow into each other without interruption.’

[Images above and below: Kitchen design by Mick De Giulio. Photography by Dave Burk, Hedrich Blessing Photographers, Chicago]

We love the flash of blue in this kitchen (above). How did you come to use it?

‘Our client had seen a sample of blue cottopesto (fired terracotta) in our showroom and loved it. So when it came time to select the countertop for the small linens island, that material immediately came to mind. In this case, red would have been the most obvious colour choice with all the warm reddish tones in both the flooring and dark cabinets. But, we chose blue.’

[Image below: Kitchen design by Mick De Giulio. Photography by Dave Burk, Hedrich Blessing Photographers, Chicago]

This kitchen is a really generous size, but feels homely, too. What are the best ways to make a large kitchen feel welcoming rather than daunting?

‘Scale is one of the most important qualities to make a room feel right. One of the critical elements in this kitchen was the ceiling panel that “floats” above the island. Without that panel grounding the space, it would have felt like everything extended into the vaulted ceiling. Although the ceiling is beautiful and dramatic, it’s not just the grandness of the architecture that’s important, but the feeling one gets within the space.’

[Image above and below: Kitchen design by Mick De Giulio. Photography by Dave Burk, Hedrich Blessing Photographers, Chicago]

What an amazing view! Even though most of us don’t have a skyline like this beyond our kitchen-diners, how should we make the most of the outlook we do have?

‘Natural light is the very first thing I think of when designing a kitchen. I always look for every opportunity to gain even a few inches of natural light. I have a few favourite techniques I use when designing kitchens: I try not to design cabinets too close to windows so as not to obstruct the flow of light. I also like to lower the windowsills to be continuous with the countertop level.’

The materials you’ve used in this kitchen are fabulous. Any suggestions on how we can use reflective finishes for our own kitchens?

‘Kitchens, by definition, are heavy, so using reflective surfaces is a technique I like to make the space feel lighter. I like polished stainless steel as one of those reflective materials, especially when it’s connected to woods or painted finishes; it becomes the jewellery of the design. I use it often for hardware, hoods, sinks and table bases.’

[Mick de Giulio at de Giulio Kitchen Design, Photography by Dale Fahey, Chicago]

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Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor

View all posts by Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor