The New Hearth

The overarching theme for the Scotch-Prudent family kitchen in Brooklyn was not elegant, or streamlined, or even industrial—though it is all those things—but rather, indestructible. “We are quite active in the house,” Mariza Scotch says (as her daughter, Gala, is wont to demonstrate), “so we needed something that wouldn’t chip. We needed it to be an all-terrain kitchen. Picking stainless steel was not a trend-driven decision.” Their kitchen is also effectively their living room, but not in such a way as to pervert its core aesthetic identity. “We say it is a kitchen with the soul of a living room—though some people take that idea too literally and start putting living-room furniture in their kitchen.”

What was the clients’ vision?
Matthew Baird: A kitchen that seemed like an extension of the garden and the converse.

Favorite features?
Scotch: The things that are not convenient are things I like. The glass door is really drafty, so in the winter it gets freezing in here. But we end up having fires every morning for breakfast out of necessity.

What do you cook in the fireplace?
Scotch: We use the fireplace often in the winter to grill meat and vegetables and occasionally fish. Anything we would put on the barbecue. My husband’s favorite escapist activity is going out to chop wood.

Kitchens you grew up in?
Scotch: Mine was a fifties kitchen in Montpelier, Vermont. At the time it was the new, efficient packaged kitchen: covered in linoleum, steel cabinetry painted white with black edging. Dièry was born in Port-au-Prince, and his first kitchen was a dirt floor and a cauldron. He came to this country when he was 2.

The stainless steel: “If you use too much, it can make a kitchen feel too institutional,” says Baird. “I used it here in contrast to materials of a warmer palette—like the wide-plank birch flooring.” Scotch convinced Marlo Manufacturing, normally a restaurant-supply company, to custom-make the cabinets and counters.

The stove: A commercial-grade Jade.

The hidden refrigerators: “We put all the refrigeration under the counter,” says Baird. The family “was very keen on not having a big refrigerator.” Which is also why Scotch loves her off-site compressor in the cellar. “I don’t want to hear the zooming and groaning of a motor.”

The bentwood chairs: By Arne Jacobsen. Available from Fritz Hansen.

Owners: Mariza Scotch, handbag designer at Kate Spade; Dièry Prudent, fitness trainer; Gala Tombal Prudent, age 6.
Architect: Matthew Baird Design.
Space: 3,800-square-foot townhouse in Prospect Heights.

The New Hearth