When the island becomes the main event.
Architects & Firms
“This project was a study in urban bachelor-pad living,” says architect Cass Calder Smith of a two-story San Francisco house he built for a single 30-something. “It’s just the few elements the client needed—one bedroom, one bath, and a kitchen that doubles as a dining and lounge area—nothing extraneous.”
The open-plan living space overtakes the entire top floor, situated to embrace ocean views through aluminum-framed picture windows—a feature that largely informed the layout. “I wanted all built-ins to be low, which led to the concept of an all-island kitchen,” explains Smith, the principal of CCS Architecture. All cooking functions are grouped in a 30-foot-long, 4-foot wide stainless-steel island with a cantilevered edge; the unit is skewed 5 degrees to follow the axis of the view, which is slightly northwest. At the opposite end, the stainless steel segues into a walnut butcher-block-type surface with legs to mimic a freestanding table. The only elements that extend above the 36-inch counter are a vintage stainless-steel cabinet for stashing glassware and a track of elegant halogen-lit glass pendants.
Despite its compact size, the island fits a standard dishwasher, full oven, 6-burner cooktop, and an undercounter refrigerator. “The client is an on-the-fly cook, usually grabbing fresh from the market, so he doesn’t keep a heavily stocked fridge,” says Smith. “His cooking style is what liberated the kitchen design to be so down-and-dirty.” The client is not much of a pack rat, either: A scattering of built-in walnut shelves along the room’s periphery offers additional storage for kitchen gadgets and books.
By pairing cooking and dining functions into one unit, the island has proved a major hangout, equal parts galley and wine bar. “I don’t think my client knew how much he’d end up entertaining here,” says Smith. “But I designed it to be something of a party pad.”