Motivated by the success of his recurring Palm Springs showhouse, the Christopher Kennedy Compound, the eponymous designer was lured to Turlock, California by a homeowner looking to create an exciting interiors experience in a classic American town. “I don’t think style is just reserved for the big cities and coasts,” says Christopher Kennedy, who collaborated with 15 other designers on a 3,200-square-foot midcentury residence that—following its October 2019 show dates— would become a family’s home. “The designers did the best of themselves and they also made it perfect for the homeowner. Our showhouses tend to be very livable, while still being very inspiring.”
In our recently released aspire design and home Showhouse Issue, we sat down with Christopher Kennedy to learn more about his creative process in designing the kitchen for this project.
aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Christopher Kennedy: Given that I was involved in the construction of the home and the planning of the show house event, the process took well over a year.
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Christopher: The architecture of the home, in terms of the renovation footprint, was set before I came on board. The many windows in the kitchen were both a challenge and an opportunity. We really treated the kitchen and dining room as one large space, with my colleague, Keith Fortner, designing the dining room. It was important to us that the two spaces were cohesive as much as possible. For example, the emerald green Phillip Jeffries grasscloth, which looks like parquet wood, wraps the entire fireplace and is really a show-stopping moment. It visually unites the two spaces and is defies convention – one might expect to see this fireplace clad in stacked stone. The wallpaper was faster, less expensive, and is in fact washable vinyl – perfect for a busy family with three growing boys!
With the fireplace dividing the two rooms, this kitchen is not laid out in the typical sense. We incorporated the four Gaggenau ovens and the refrigerator on either side of the fireplace. This left the perimeter walls of the kitchen “open”, which allowed for the 84” long Galley Sink and the 60” long Gaggenau cooktop!
aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Christopher: Honestly, the entire project!
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Christopher: The homeowner requested something classic, modern, and bright. We also wanted it to be just a bit “farmhouse modern” – since Turlock is, in fact, an agricultural town. I love the bright white marbelized Corian Quartz counters and the finish of the cabinetry.
aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Christopher: Given that I am a bit known for my use of color, this tonal and textural kitchen was perhaps a bit of a departure. But I still feel it has classic CK elements: crisp and clean; bold elements like the Kelly Wearstler sconces at the windows; and glamorous in a modern way.
aspire: Despite the fact that there were so many designers involved, there is an inherent cohesiveness to the home. Did you all converse/collaborate? Or was this a completely individual process?
Christopher: As the show house producers, Keith and I set a palette and “look” for the home. We set a color palette as well as a vibe. Also, each of the designers really worked with the homeowner and even treated her like a typical client. This process really created a cohesive look, which was my goal – so I am thrilled that we achieved it!
aspire: Is your preference for a showhouse a small space or a large space? Does one or the other provide a better opportunity to stretch your creativity?
Christopher: Given all the resources involved in creating a show house room — time, energy, money — I always prefer a small-ish space in which I can create maximum impact!
aspire: Describe the town of Turlock in one sentence.
Christopher: Turlock is a charming small town that, to me represents Americana: industry, family, community.
This or That?
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
Christopher: Hardwood with rug on top
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Christopher: Black and white with pops of color!
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
Christopher: Dinner, after a productive day
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Christopher: Midcentury, obviously
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Photography by Dave Adams.
Click Here to view more interviews with the Christopher Kennedy Showhouse designers.
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