Come On Over
The Perfect Kitchen for Entertaining

By Melissa Lefelar

The one thing missing for lots of homeowners when they want to entertain is the right kind of kitchen. That’s not a problem at one Bainbridge Township home, which was built four years ago with hosting in mind.

“I designed our kitchen to allow many people to perform many tasks at once,” said owner and interior designer Holly Chinnici. “Because my husband and I have large families, the kitchen always gets bombarded. I designed the kitchen so that one person can be in the refrigerator, another can be at the sink, someone else can be at the oven and others can be setting or clearing the table or serving drinks in a completely separate area.”

Holly was inspired by the architecture in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the posh ski resort town where her family spends several weeks a year. “We love it. If we won the lottery, that’s probably where we’d live,” she said. “We like the woodsy, warm influence. I used to stalk the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole with a ‘spy’ camera and run around photographing everything.”

Certain elements in Holly’s kitchen are custom made for the repeat hostess. Her pantry alone could win awards for its sheer size and organization. It’s also great for a working mom, as Chinnici just opened a furniture and home accessories store, Simpatico, on the triangle in Chagrin Falls. “I love my pantry. I use it like another room,” she said. “The one thing I wanted was a huge pantry. I don’t like a lot of things hidden. I want to see my dishes if I want to access them.”

Holly’s contractor, Jonas Yoeder of J&B Builders, gave her all adjustable, dark-stained alder wood shelving and big cabinets underneath for storage. He even built horizontal, hanging bars for tablecloths and left a space for a back-up refrigerator if the Chinnicis want to install one. A long counter top inside the pantry allows for easy assembly of party foods.

Another unique detail is the hostess station, just outside the pantry and steps from the dining room. It features alder wood cabinetry with seeded glass, a small sink and a compact, 18-inch dishwasher. “The theory behind this was if you’re in the dining room, everything you need to set the table is right here. The dishwasher is small enough, so if you unload the table, you have room to wash one course of dishes or some glasses,” Holly said.

The rest of the kitchen is more conventional, but no less spectacular. The dark woods and earthy tones complement other rooms in the Craftsman-style home, and the high-end stainless steel appliances provide the serious cook with everything needed to make a great family meal.

The Wolf 6-burner, gas range gives Holly plenty of room to make side dishes. Double ovens by Thermador provide enough space for several main dishes and even some homemade bread. The huge Sub-Zero, side-by-side refrigerator/freezer holds more than enough food for a hungry family. “My husband watches (MTV’s) Cribs too much. He was obsessed with the Sub-Zero double wide,” Holly said.

The dark brown, knotty alder wood cabinets were made by C.A. Miller Custom Woodworking in Burton. The style is hard to define—a hybrid between Craftsman and country—and sprung from Holly’s fertile imagination. “Chris Miller was fantastic because I literally drew them, and he made them, which was great,” Holly said.

The island follows the current trend of mixing woods and is painted black. Holly said Miller paid attention to the smallest details. “He even painted my high chair to match. He didn’t like seeing it in here. He said the high chair needs to be fixed, and he painted it to match the island. You’ve got to love that,” said Holly.

Chinnici also likes to mix different kinds of stone. She used a dramatic granite, Island Tsunami Green, on the island, and a softer, Durango Limestone on the perimeter counter tops. “I didn’t want to do the whole kitchen in it (granite) because I thought it was kind of intense,” she said. “The island is a different color anyways, so I decided to break it up by doing a limestone on the exterior.”

Holly admitted that this choice isn’t for everyone. “The Durango is a little bit porous, so you have to be okay with that. Sometimes, I’ll serve coffee and there will be some coffee stains and about two weeks later, they fade out of the Durango. If you’re a person that’s an extreme perfectionist, you don’t want that. But I love it because I actually like the patina that it gives,” she said.

More green appears in the back splash, made of Roku glass tile. “I’m not a back splash person. I have a very hard time with back splashes. But I love this glass. I love the sheen it brings into the kitchen. I love the sparkle it puts in the room. I use it all the time in different sizes and configurations for clients,” Holly said.

Most faucets are not conversation pieces, but Chinnici’s 36-inch high, restaurant-grade Kohler is. “It’s one of my favorite things in the whole house. You can have a real heavy spray, or you can lighten it up. It was an indulgence, but I really wanted it,” she said.

The kitchen is open to a large dining area. The walls are covered with a modified version of the home’s exterior stone, giving the space a cozy, lodge-like feel. Floor to ceiling doors and windows along the outside wall make it a great place to watch the change of seasons. “We wanted that room to feel like part of the outside of the house. It’s definitely not formal,” Holly said. But it is a great place for dinner parties and large family celebrations.

Holly and her husband Joe, bought their copper and steel dining table in Wyoming. “We were in Jackson Hole, and we went into a workshop and saw a table very similar to this that we were really taken by. The guy who made it was literally a ‘ski bum’ who’s an iron monger on the side, so we talked to him on the phone and sent him a couple of pictures. In between skiing, he made it,” Holly said.

She said the copper base is as light as a feather, but the top is 600 pounds of heavy steel that took three men to move into place. Holly said it is a perfect reflection of her home’s informality. “It’s fun because it patinas. I put drinks on it. It’s supposed to get distressed-looking, so you just kind of let it beat itself up and just go with it. It’s not supposed to be formal,” she said.

The entire set up—from the kitchen to the pantry to the dining room – works well for the Chinnici family. “This design allows for a bit more harmony when entertaining,” Holly said.

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