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Just a Little Bit Country

A Hollywood design team prefers that their Noho kitchen not be misread as rural.

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The sink: The slate sink was found in an old mill in Rhode Island. "It was used to wash poultry or something," says Standefer. It also made an appearance in the film Addicted to Love.  

Mention the words country kitchen to Robin Standefer, half of a set-design couple (Zoolander) turned interiors team (Ben Stiller’s L.A. house), and she raises a perturbed eyebrow. “Couldn’t you call it a baker’s kitchen? It’s a better connotation. This started as a concept of a working kitchen. We imagined some great English bakery.” What she and her partner, Stephen Alesch, wanted was a place to cook without having to turn their backs on guests, a kitchen that was in full view but that hid some of its elements. What they abhor is “a bad set kitchen,” says Standefer. Alesch adds, “Like if a client wanted an old folksy feeling, you know, with a wagon wheel. That’s why we are sensitive to the ‘country’ thing. We’ll sometimes get someone who will say that about our kitchens, and we say, ‘No, no!’ ”

How many kitchens have you done?
Alesch: Dozens in films, and for clients, probably ten.
Standefer: Elisabeth Shue’s is quite modern, Ben’s [Stiller] is old world mixed with early industrial.

Any hard-and-fast kitchen-design rules?
Alesch: One thing we have learned in film for sure: Get rid of all the walls!
Standefer: Don’t block off the kitchen!

Will you tinker with this kitchen?
Standefer: I don’t think we would ever change it.
Alesch: I love how the marble is mellowing. We love the tea stains and everything.
Standefer: We are not ones to say, “Oh, we liked that style five years ago and now we don’t.”


The Sub-Zero fridge: Encased in cabinetry designed by Alesch and Standefer, it looks like a cupboard door when closed. The six items they must always have on hand are “eggs, good butter, Greek yogurt, bacon, bottarga, and heavy cream.”








1) The island: The marble top comes from a lithographer’s studio in Indiana and had to be craned in through the window. Standefer found the tree stump in a forest, and uses it as a cheese platter or fruit stand.


2) The Garland stove: A well-used workhorse that was inherited from the loft’s previous owner, an urban pioneer who’d been there since 1968 and also kept a giant loom on the premises. She’d cloistered her kitchen in a dark corner of the loft. They moved the stove—and everything else—out into the open.

Owners and Designers: Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, of design firm Roman and Williams.
Space: 2,400-square-foot loft off the Bowery.


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