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Relaxing, Open Spaces in a French Kitchen

A fireplace, white marble and La Cornue range are just a few of the distinct details in Mick De Giulio's fresh, upscale kitchen design.

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Mick De Giulio used fresh details and approaches in an open and luxurious kitchen he designed for clients with a world view, from a pristine, sink- and appliance-free island topped with white marble to a substantial, room-defining fireplace. His work is always innovative, but he never thinks in terms of setting trends or following them.

"For any design, I consider only what is the best thing to do in that particular space, making sure it will have a long life of classic beauty in your kitchen," says the 30-year design veteran, who founded de Giulio Kitchen Design in Chicago in 1984. "The pot rack, for example, or the island are both very important elements, but they're not done for trends' sake but for function. Each component was done very carefully and designed responsibly with an aesthetic that held true."

Here, he shares steps in the journey to create an open space with French overtones:

"This kitchen belongs to a very sophisticated client, who was very expressive about the ambiance she wanted to create," he says. "It was just one room in the home, but it was the most important. The clients were world travelers and they knew they would like something with French overtones, but not a French country kitchen. They wanted something creative and, fortunately, devoted a lot of space to the project. "Separate places were available for the pantry and the butler's pantry, which allowed the design to be more open, but they were also part of the overall design," Mick says.

If you're considering a kitchen fireplace, naturally all the safety issues have to be addressed, but you should only indulge after careful consideration of your space, Mick says. "Look at in terms of the way the room lays out, how people will cluster around it, how it feels comfortable," he says. Because it will likely be a centering point in the room, it will only work in a spacious kitchen — make sure to leave several yards between the fire and any seating and additional space to accommodate traffic flow.

Vive La Cornue range: One of the special choices Mick made for this special space was a handmade La Cornue range, which hails from France. "It's the only range line I know of with both electric and gas ovens," he says. "That makes a big difference because each type of fuel gives better results for certain types of cooking. The gas is better for cooking that requires a bit of moisture in the heat, like roasts, while the electric is better for dishes that require a dryer heat — flaky pastry, for example."

Mick emphasizes that while this naturally vaulted oven dovetailed nicely in the French-influenced kitchen, "there are many other great products out there," he says. "Another great choice is the Wolf convection oven with its sealed gas cooktop; it offers more of a stainless-steel element. It all depends on the kitchen and the client."

Meet the designer: For more than 30 years, Mick De Giulio's designs have touched on every aspect of the kitchen, from residences and restaurant spaces to products and showcase kitchens and, now for the international design firm de Giulio Kitchen Design, which he founded in 1984. It has a staff of 40 and two Chicago area showrooms, including one at LuxeHome in the Merchandise Mart. "Every design is a great challenge and that's the most gratifying part of my work," he says. "I get to go from the starting point, through the dream talking and all the way to the day when someone enters the finished spaced and lets you know how thankful they are that you've helped them produce something they'll love for a long time."

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