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.