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The Calm in the Storm

A Studio Sofield redesign made this once-unwieldy kitchen the center of a sprawling Upper East Side apartment.


When Abby Rockefeller served dinner in this Donald Deskey Deco-styled penthouse, she never set foot in the kitchen; the staff would wend their way through a maze of rooms from stove to pantry to dining room. Later, when John and Betsy Whitney lived here, the kitchen was redesigned by Sister Parish. Today, it’s the home of a professional couple who actually want to live in their kitchen. They hired Studio Sofield to create modern functioning living spaces that would simultaneously preserve the integrity of the original architecture. Sofield “paid homage to the machine-age Donald Deskey design,” says designer William Sofield, while “reinterpreting the space for a contemporary family.” Since the couple entertains frequently, the space had to be practical but also play up the sweeping views and luxurious terraced spaces. And with young children, the materials had to be durable.

Illustration by Jason Lee  

During demolition, the crew discovered the plumbing had to be reconfigured; Studio Sofield solved that by centralizing all the pipes and disguising them in a monumental cabinet that also provided much-needed storage. An eating area was created between the kitchen and pantry; that’s where the family now gathers to dine, play, and generally hang out. This kitchen hub, while incorporating luxe materials like nickel and granite, stays calm even when a dinner party for 50 is in full swing.


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