Tag Archives: Oscar Shamamian

Small Space: Big Impact…Elements We Love


This kitchen certainly proves that you don’t need to have a large space to make a big impact — it’s all in the details and the careful selection of unique design elements.  I have wanted to write a post about this kitchen for a while, and just thought that I would wait until I wrote about selecting the right hood for your range — and what better example to use than this beautiful hood from designer Michael S. Smith’s home in Bel Air? The problem is that I fall in love with this kitchen for so many different reasons every time I see it, so why wait to write about it until I dedicate an entire post to hoods??

What is it about this kitchen that resonates with me so much?  Well, the hood is definitely my favorite element.  Designed by architects Oscar Shamamian and Joseph Singer, the gently curved hood, with its antique pewter finish, hangs over the BlueStar range just as if it were in the kitchen of an old British country home.  And that’s certainly in keeping with the English country style that Michael Smith was going for when designing this house.  The hood is not the only unique element in the space, however.  The use of the unexpected barrel-vault ceiling (inspired by famed British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens) draws your eye up, which when coupled with a glass-fronted refrigerator and cabinets, is such a clever way to give the illusion of more space.  The curved lines of the ceiling, hood and pendants (from Ann-Morris Antiques) are such a nice contrast to the more linear features of the cabinets, appliances and stunning wide-plank floors.  Together, they make for a much more interesting and unique space.

Another thing that I admire about Michael Smith’s design aesthetic is his belief that you should select elements that you love for your kitchen, and not just practical ones that always look perfect.  His countertops, for example, are made of Lagos Azul limestone from Walker Zanger, and are known to stain when they come into contact with certain foods.  “Every once in a while I’ll have them professionally cleaned, but I like the fact that they’re not static…If I have counters that stain and floors that need to be waxed, then I can say with great confidence, ‘Hey, don’t be afraid.  It does require some extra effort, but it’s worth it.'”  I completely agree.  When renovating my own kitchen, I wanted to use honed marble on my island.  I love to cook, and staying away from citrus, tomato sauce and red wine was simply not an option.  Everyone, without exception, told me to avoid marble since it’s so porous and prone to staining.  But I loved the marble so much.  Happily, six years later I am so glad that I went with my gut and picked the material that I really wanted, despite the warnings.  It has aged beautifully and has a patina that will only continue to improve with age.

Michael Smith’s kitchen exemplifies the fact that you can successfully use both interesting architectural features and design elements to make a space feel larger.  In his own kitchen, Michael Smith also teaches us a lesson in having what you love.  Yes, it’s sometimes a bit more work to maintain, but a kitchen is an investment, so if you can swing it, shouldn’t you have what you truly love?

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