As an interior designer, Jessica Schaeman knows what looks good. She also likes to support local businesses. So when she began remodeling the nearly 120-year-old Craftsman home she purchased recently in Montecito, she visited Reed Interiors in Carpinteria to look for kitchen flooring. While in the showroom, she became interested in the modern European-style kitchens that are a Reed specialty. Soon after, she was working with Reed’s master kitchen designer, Michel Clair, to create a kitchen that is as functional as it is beautiful, as ergonomic as it is edgy, and as warm as it is cool. "The first thing about the kitchen for me is that it’s extremely functional. Everything has a place and is in the right place," says Schaeman. "You have the right drawer where you need it. When you’re reaching for a pan, it’s in the upper left drawer next to the stove. It’s amazing." Every lower drawer is lit with motion-sensor LED lighting, as are the bottoms of cabinets above counters. Pots and pans fit into slots in one big drawer just below counter height, and knives are neatly aligned and securely held in another. Oils and other indispensable cooking staples are in a drawer adjacent to the range.
The kitchen is well grounded on a floor of foot-wide planks in pearl color. That gently toned wood infuses the palette in the rest of the room, which calls to mind driftwood, dove feathers, and bright-white tropical beach sand. A gleaming stainless-steel-topped white-lacquer island loaded with storage anchors the space. Four wood stools line one side. Around the room’s perimeter is a phalanx of ingenious modular components from Armony Cucine, Italy’s premier maker of modern kitchen cabinets, counter tops, and cupboards, for which Reed Interiors is the exclusive North American distributor. Lacking pulls or knobs, the touch-activated cabinets and drawers faced with a soft-gray woodgrain laminate veneer enhance both the kitchen’s clean lines and its soothing essence. Lower drawers have motion-activated LED lighting, and drawers within drawers optimize space.
"I wanted laminate because I have two teenaged boys and a husband who fancies himself a chef and is a good cook but is tough on kitchens," says Schaeman. "It’s beautiful and completely indestructible."
One long wall contains refrigerators, a freezer, a wine storage unit, a microwave, a second oven, and a pair of pantries. The main Viking stove and the stainless steel hood above it gleam, while the wall behind the cooking area is covered with small, retro-looking modernist tiles in gray, light blue and white from NS Ceramics of Santa Barbara. "With modern design, you can easily make something look like a lab, so colors and textures are really important," Schaeman says. "The tiles pull everything together, and the taupe gray stool cushions soften the look. It’s modern and sleek but also warm, approachable and comfortable." When setting off on a kitchen redesign, Schaeman says, "There are so many choices that you can get overwhelmed. That’s where a designer is so valuable. He can help you understand what really makes sense. Michel really knows what he’s doing, and it could not have been easier to work with Reed. I’ve used them with clients and will continue to. They do a great job."