Into the Woods: 4 Stunning Open Kitchens

Kitchens where the four elements converge evoke our primordial nature
Kitchen Bearcanyon Open

Two islands are central to this kitchen, with all of the cooking at the center of the room on an induction range that keeps surfaces safe to touch while guests congregate around the action. | Photo by David Lauer

Earth, air, fire, water: the four elements converge in the kitchen, where cooking is the magical alchemy compelling people to gather around the proverbial heart of the home. These featured kitchens embrace the natural world with honest materials and open spaces.

Here, wood comes in many forms: exposed beams, custom cabinets and slab tables. These woods mix with steel, resin, granite and glass. Materials display the source of their origins in textural patterns, whether they’re soldered, sanded or smooth. Instead of pops of saturated color, layers of earthy tones give the kitchens a welcoming feel.

Small appliances live in pantries and drawers. Vent hoods get tucked into walls and ceilings. Unconventional focal points like bronze bars, antique armoires and branch-like chandeliers replace large ranges and twinkling tile. Countertops remain uncluttered and sight- lines open—so everyone gets a good view.

Traffic is managed without interrupting workflow. Family members sit at the counter or in a nook. Guests gather around islands or at the table. Cooks mingle as they rinse, chop or sauté. Just like a campfire—the most informal of gatherings—these airy and functional kitchens welcome all.


Kitchen Bearcanyon Angle

Photo by David Lauer

This Boulder, Colorado, kitchen is completely integrated with its surrounding great room. “The homeowners are incredible foodies,” explains interior designer Leah Civiok, “so we placed the kitchen right in the middle of the room, flanking the living and dining rooms.”

An unconventional layout, smart storage and hidden appliances make it easy to put the cooking at the center of the area—and the cooks at the center of the party. The two islands respond to how people naturally gather. “It’s meant to be a walk- up gathering space,” Civiok says. “No bar stools … it’s more of a social engaging space where both islands are really meant to be used from every angle.”

Kitchen Bearcanyon Bar

Photo by David Lauer

With blackened steel cabinets and leathered granite waterfall counters, this kitchen is literally elemental. The dark textures are juxtaposed with light beams overhead. “We really just wanted the ceiling to add a warm textural embrace to the space,” Civiok says. An oil-rubbed natural bronze bar creates a dramatic counterpoint to the dark cabinets as well. “We took a lot of care in how we lit it, so it really glows.”

Kitchens Bearcanyon Window

Photo by David Lauer

The kitchen recedes into the room, but the design is far from subtle. “I think the materiality is really what sets this kitchen apart,” Civiok says. “Every material is really its honest self.” >>

INTERIOR DESIGNER: HMH Architecture + Interiors, Boulder, CO
ARCHITECT: HMH Architecture + Interiors, Boulder, CO
BUILDER: Stylewise Construction, Lafayette, CO


Kitchens Shelter

Photo by Gibeon Photography

This Montana kitchen layers different woods, including rough reclaimed beams on the ceiling, wire-brushed oak cabinets and lighter finishes on the wallboards. White quartz countertops add a clean, modern element to this transitional space. Interior designer Sharon Lohss calls the kitchen “textural, equipped and really comfortable.”

The homeowners love to cook, which was a starting point for designing the kitchen. Because they like to use a wok, they wanted a BlueStar range and a powerful vent hood. “The hood was made locally out of a blackened steel,” Lohss says. This impressive hood adds another natural material to complement the wood, as well as creating a focal point.

While the homeowners cook, everyone else enjoys the breakfast nook. With a corner banquette and bar stools, the nook offers enough seating for the entire family. The area also includes built-in plugs for charging devices. “That corner is a hit—they absolutely love it.”

Handblown glass pendants by artist Ona Magaro add practical task lighting and material contrast. “We wanted to add a modern touch so the kitchen didn’t get too rustic,” Lohss says. “That clear bit of sheen and the more modern shape was the right blend.”

INTERIOR DESIGNER: Shelter Interiors, Bozeman, MT
ARCHITECT: Studio H Design, Bozeman, MT
BUILDER: Studio H Design | Lohss Construction, Gallatin Gateway, MT


Kitchens Paula Large

Photo by David Lauer

For their dream home, the Simpsons wanted to feel like they were at a mountain retreat, even though they live in the Denver metro area. Interior designer Paula Breuwet-Cohen took this escapist premise to heart when she designed their residence, including the main kitchen.

Part of the idea was to create a space where the wife could cook while still spending time with the family, so Breuwet-Cohen included a round custom table at one end of the kitchen island. “It was about having everyone around the island and accommodating the entire family while she cooked, but not making it a linear seating area.”

Kitchens Paula Small

Photo by David Lauer

The wife also wanted to keep the counters clear, so Breuwet-Cohen included a hidden pantry with a coffee bar. “You walk in and the counter is not covered in a myriad of appliances … They’re still there and useful but not on display,” she says.

For that Mountain Modern vibe, the designer brought in different woods, including rich sawn white oak and dark walnut. To create an impressive focal point, Breuwet-Cohen housed two refrigerators inside a custom-built walnut-and-antique-steel armoire. “This feels like a piece of furniture that makes you say wow.”

ARCHITECT: Mandil, Denver, CO
BUILDER: Town & Country Custom Homes, Denver, CO


Kitchens Telluride Full

Photo by Draper White Photography

This warm and modern kitchen is part of the Transfer Telluride project, located in a new building overlooking the historic Transfer warehouse. “Everything that came to Telluride landed in that building first,” says Margaret Selzer, interior designer for the residence. “That’s a pretty unique and fun aspect of the project.”

The homeowners wanted to feel peace and comfort, so those two emotions formed the basis of Selzer’s kitchen design. They also wanted a neutral color palette. Selzer paired “a very informal spatial arrangement” with rich materials: “Our philosophy is to really focus on natural materials; we choose a few and repeat those.”

Kitchens Telluride Close

Photo by Draper White Photography

Rustic white oak cabinetry contrasts beautifully with a steel custom hood. The lighting is purposely layered: “Light and glowy pendants help the chandelier to shine like it should,” Selzer says. Beneath the sculptural fixture, a custom table by Paper Airplane features an impressive wood slab bisected by a river of resin.

The big statement wall posed a small problem, because it’s across from a window facing Telluride’s box canyon. What could compete with that sublime view? The homeowners decided on a painting by Western artist Theodore Waddell. “He was one of the few artists who could hold that space and compete with that view.” o

ARCHITECT: CCY Architects, Basalt, CO
BUILDER: Finbro Construction, Telluride, CO

Categories: Contemporary Homes, Kitchens