To those who doubt that modern architecture is a match for the rough-and-tumble reality of everyday life, we submit the Appleton Living kitchen. Serving two adults, four children, and a minimum of three dogs—the Venice, Calif., family also takes in rescued canines—it offers a study in svelte, sculptural form that also is practical, livable, and tough as nails.
The room occupies one wing of an L-shaped house, incorporating cooking, dining, and sitting areas and—with a wall of sliding doors open—a full-length poolside veranda. Architects Tryggvi Thorsteinsson and Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir capitalized on that openness by organizing the kitchen around two 16-foot islands and entirely avoiding above-counter storage. With long swaths of glass along the north and south walls, the layout produces a “see-through” effect, Thorsteinsson says. The view through the building is scarcely interrupted by the stair that lines the north wall, a folded plane of plate steel hanging on thin steel rods that nearly disappears in profile. A bed of smooth, black stones shadows the stair at the floor, giving three-dimensional form to the space above.
At the islands, Thorsteinsson and Ingjaldsdóttir wrapped contrasting shells of gray stone composite and terra cotta tile around millwork surfaced in bamboo. Matching bamboo covers a wall-height millwork element—holding the refrigerator, wall ovens, and a nook for small appliances—that separates the kitchen from a children’s playroom. Except for a “boardwalk” of ipe planks that borders the stone bed, describing the path to the pantry door, the floor is covered in limestone tiles. That surface flows onto the veranda, which takes the edge off cool evenings with overhead radiant heaters and a recessed fireplace/pizza oven.
The veranda’s cantilevered edge doubles as a bench, Thorsteinsson notes. Lit from below, he adds, the floating form “lightens up the heaviness of the building and creates functionality at the same time.”