From the February/March 2021 Issue  

Classically Modern

Writer Ren Miller  |  Photographer Peter Kubilus  |  Designer Alexandria Como  |  Location Short Hills, NJ

Designer Alexandria Como helps Short Hills homeowners put a personal stamp on their new kitchen

Black and brass accents add movement to this otherwise white kitchen in Short Hills. The kitchen is connected to a breakfast area with wide-open views of the wooded backyard.

White is the kitchen color of choice for many homeowners. However, the tide is turning toward kitchens with accents that warm and personalize the space. A case in point: a young couple hired Alexandria Como to create a modern white kitchen with accents of other colors in their new Short Hills, NJ, home. “White is always classic and will stand the test of time,” says Como, principal of Alexandria Como Design in Morristown, NJ. “With such a big investment, you want something that will always be appealing. However, it’s great to be able to add special details to make a white kitchen unique to the homeowners’ taste.”

Como came onboard during the framing stage. “No material or appliance selections had been made,” Como says, so she started with a blank slate. She quickly got to work creating a kitchen that met the owners’ request for a “cool, relaxed feeling” and that fit their casual lifestyle. It had to have the efficiencies required for a couple caring for their two very young children while also being suitable for entertaining.

The centerpiece is a large island made of cerused red oak with a waterfall countertop of Belvedere quartzite, a black stone with dramatic cream and gold veining. The island — a colorful contrast to the wall of white cabinetry behind it — includes a prep sink, dishwasher and storage on the back side and an overhang for seating on the front.

“The range wall, meanwhile, was designed so the person on the working side doesn’t have to leave this area or get in the way,” Como says.

The wall has a refrigerator on one end and freezer on the other, both covered with wood panels that match the cabinetry. The backsplash is handmade, textured subway tile. The stainless steel range is topped by a pot-filler faucet and a custom vent hood that Como designed with black-strap accents.

This display cabinet, modeled after a metal-and-leaded-glass antique, is re-created in black-painted wood so it’s light enough to sit on the countertop.

Other black accents include perimeter countertops, also of Belvedere quartzite, as well as a statement piece inspired by a picture of an antique cabinet with metal framing and leaded glass. “We re-created the cabinet in black-painted wood so weight wasn’t an issue and placed it on the peninsula countertop,” Como says. Friends and family can enjoy a peek at accent pieces displayed in the cabinet.

The peninsula, which includes a farmhouse sink, another dishwasher and storage, separates the kitchen from the breakfast area. Perpendicular to the other end of the range wall is an information center and pantry storage.Adding another color, as well as a jewelry-like quality to the design, are brass light fixtures, faucets and cabinetry hardware. “Brass is on-trend again,” Como notes, and it creates a beautiful contrast. It warms up the black and white.”

The entire open design was created with entertaining in mind. The kitchen itself opens to a large family room. On the other side of the peninsula, a breakfast area features a wall of windows looking out onto a patio and the backyard. For a seamless, open look, the flooring throughout is quarter-sawn white oak with a Rubio Monocoat stain.

Como credits the homeowners for their involvement in the project, which also included a powder room, master bathroom, pantry with bar and laundry room. “They were very involved and had a lot of ideas,” she says. “They were also very knowledgeable about how they live and operate, so that made it easier for me to determine the best layout for them.”