Launch Slideshow

A Modern Hearth

A Modern Hearth

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    Matthew Millman

    Designer Fu-Tung Cheng’s blend of sleek lines and handcrafted detail turned this condo kitchen from dim and claustrophobic to a warm and inviting place to cook and spend time.

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    Matthew Millman

    The cooktop area anchors the room, serving as a modern-day hearth. The vent, designed by Cheng, is a quarter of an ellipse; its graceful shape keeps the hood from overpowering the room.

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    Matthew Millman

    Kitchen storage is a combination of bamboo cabinets for stashing cookware and appliances, plus open shelving for favorite objects collected by the homeowner during her travels. Cheng appreciates the clean lines of modernism, but he also likes the friendly appeal of open storage.

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    Matthew Millman

    Recessed mosaic tile insets on the backsplash were crafted with bits of snipped glass. They interrupt the strict tile grid while defining it and lending a hand-hewn feel.

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    Matthew Millman

    Perpendicular to the cooktop area are the sink and drainboard. The red surface is made of Geocrete, one of the trademarked concrete blends that Cheng is known for. The concrete slopes gently to meet the walnut shelf, preventing water from pooling or from seeping into the joints.

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    Matthew Millman

    Cheng often embeds bits of ephemera in his concrete countertops; they’re like present-day fossils. Here, a tiny geode seems to float across the counter like a sea creature or a bit of jetsam. The wake appears to be made of inlay, but that’s actually a piece of valve body cover from an automatic car transmission, a bit of modern-day jetsam.

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    Matthew Millman

    Open shelving that extends from the kitchen to the dining area houses favorite tea sets.

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    Matthew Millman

    A china cabinet with eco-resin doors and LED lighting inside does triple duty as storage, decoration, and ambient lighting.

 

“I like the simplicity of modernism, but prefer a bit more comfort,” says designer Fu-Tung Cheng of balancing modern with handcrafted. And so it is with this San Francisco kitchen. The cooktop area, a mix of sleek and warm, is a modern-day hearth that anchors the room. Ceramic tiles with a metallic glaze produce a backsplash with texture and depth. Recessed insets, each a tiny glass mosaic, interrupt the grid of the backsplash, adding a handmade feel. The hood, designed by Cheng, is a quarter-ellipse with a graceful style that many vent hoods lack. Ample counter space leaves room for prep work and appliances, while display shelves make space for the homeowner’s tea sets. Gaps in the bamboo storage drawers serve as pulls, adding visual relief that keeps the drawers from looking boxy. “Boxing things up in the kitchen is a mid-century ideal of sanitation,” says Cheng, preferring the unlikely examples of hoosier cabinets and country kitchens, whose casual openness he finds friendly.

To the left of the cooktop is a countertop of Geocrete, one of the concrete blends Cheng is known for. That pop of red is another warming element, and here Cheng’s love of craft (and sense of whimsy) are in full play. Embedded in the concrete is a tiny geode that appears to float across the counter like a sea creature or piece of flotsam. Its wake looks like painstakingly crafted inlay. But it’s not: It’s part of a valve body cover from an automatic transmission, a bit of modern-day jetsam.