A Foodie's Classic Lakeside Kitchen Addition
Functionality comes first in this kitchen, but timeless style is a close second. Designer Julia Johnston and her husband conduct taste tests for fun and make fine food and drink part of their daily lives, but also understand the value of a dollar, even in a virtual kitchen. “You don’t want the kitchen to look aged before the appliances die out,” Johnston notes. “That’s the real world.”
She loves her current kitchen in her Boca Raton, FL, so she returned to southwestern Michigan, where she spent her childhood, for inspiration for her second dream kitchen. “This kitchen is supposed to be in what was this really fabulous house. They would have these wonderful parties once every couple of years,” she remembers. “It’s just my dream. I would buy that house. I would add this kitchen onto it, overlooking Lake Michigan.”
The kitchen had to be big, not only to host dinner parties and tastings, but also to house Johnston’s collection of more than 170 cookbooks and culinary history books and documents. Then she added a fireplace where she could curl up on cold days to read them.
The pro-style appliances suit her cooking style, which runs the gamut from cassoulet to gazpacho, but leans heavily toward traditional Southern foods. Johnston’s husband also likes to cook, so the layout had to accommodate at least two chefs. Finally, she created an area specially for baking, including an island with a low surface height for rolling dough. A cabinet between the ovens offers accessible storage for a mixer, food processor and baking supplies. “I’m a really good cook but I cannot bake,” she says. “I think one of the reasons I can’t bake is that my kitchen is not set up for baking."
With all that activity going on in her dream kitchen, Johnston went for a classic but not overly traditional or formal aesthetic. “I don’t like a lot of what I would call froufrou,” she explains. “I don’t like corbels, extraneous architectural details. I really like clean but not totally boring.”
Designer Julia Johnston
Independent kitchen designer Julia Johnston, CKD, CAPS, works with individuals, architects and contractors to design new and remodeled kitchens. Formerly the director of research for a computer software company, she left the corporate world in the mid-1990s and spent 10 years designing luxury kitchens for cabinetmakers such as Christopher Peacock Cabinetry, William Ohs and SieMatic. Now she owns and operates Kitchens for Cooking in Boca Raton, FL.
Her love of fine food and beverages extends beyond cooking in her own kitchen. In addition to holding an intermediate sommelier certification, Johnston serves on the board of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans and on the board of the South Florida chapter of the American Institute of Wine & Food.
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