Choose a unique table for more kitchen space

May 02, 2009|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Creators Syndicate

Q: We both like to cook and often have our guests in the kitchen while we gin up dinner together. In fact, we are thinking of knocking out a wall in order to create a proper seating area for guests -- they can watch without getting in our way. Our home and kitchen are contemporary. What kind of table and chairs/stools would work well?

A: You're smart to think beyond the usual island/eat-at counter that's become ubiquitous in today's kitchens. A table will instead dramatically increase your workspace on nights when cooking school isn't in session. And when it is, your observers will be comfortable within chatting distance, but well out of the line of fire.

Given your taste for contemporary design, I went looking for interesting ideas and came up with an entire book full of them: "Contemporary Kitchen Style" by Mervyn Kaufman and the editors of Woman's Day Special Interest Publications (Filipacchi Publishing).


The pictured kitchen stopped me with its surprising use of unusual materials and contrasting textures. Try to imagine the dining area as the current owner first found it, with the floor covered in some dull vinyl.

The room's updated persona starts with the exuberant zebrawood chosen for the floor and wall. Also known as "Zebrano," zebrawood comes from West Africa and is prized for its hardness and vivacious graining. The hanging shaggy lights are equally unorthodox and amusing.

Against all that visual activity, the stainless steel of the table and chairs comes as cool visual relief. They also afford both guests and chef plenty of room to spread out and watch -- or work, as the case may be.

Q: Is your garage hazardous to your health?

A: Yes, chances are garages could harm your health. According to a recent survey of American homeowners, 39 percent of respondents have tripped over something in our garages, and 33 percent have either hit or run over something with the car.

That's probably because we Americans famously leave our $25,000 autos sitting out; our garages are too full of items that should have been thrown away long ago. It's spring-cleaning time, which means sorting out your parking zone, remind the experts at The Lehigh Group (, who undertook the survey on behalf of Crawford products -- makers of organization products for your garage.

OK, so they had an ulterior motive, but who can argue, especially those of us who can't get the garage door closed.

Q: What should you do if your Mom is a big game hunter and you're an inspired designer?

A: You create some of the most beautiful decorative items on display, among many at the recent Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York. Would you believe that ram, deer and antelope skulls were covered in Swarovski crystals?

Don't wince. The animals were fair game, and Peter Pracilio's astonishing artistry renders his mother's trophies immortal. Even the Crown Prince of Norway called to buy the fallow deer skull encrusted in 10,000 black crystals, which Pracilio exhibited in Milan, Italy. These one-of-a-kind pieces sell for $6,400 (axis deer) to $22,000 ("unicorn," a Pracilio construction).

When he's not crystallizing animal bones, the Brooklyn-based designer creates cute synthetic bones for your everyday dog. Have a look at

o Copyright 2009 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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