(Cooks) Roll Up Your Sleeves

High-tech features meet low-tech functionality in two sleek, streamlined and petite kitchens.

A Place for Everything

Greg Dell’Aquila insists he’s not a neat freak. That’s hard to believe, looking at his Hoboken kitchen. The real estate developer—he runs his family’s business, JDA Group—created this ultimate bachelor pad on the top floor of the Lexington, a building his firm recently converted into luxury apartments.

Acting as general contractor, Dell’Aquila aimed to design a kitchen that allowed him to relax and entertain in a low-stress environment. The result is a sleek, tranquil space that’s bred for neatness. “I actually do have stuff,” stresses Dell’Aquila, “but with a place for everything, everything has its place. It all gets put away.” And that’s key for maintaining the Zen-like atmosphere he craved.

Exquisitely designed—Dell’Aquila worked hand-in-hand with interior designer Tomas Sheleg of Sheleg Design Studio, which has offices in New York and New Jersey—the project was three years in the making. “I wanted to get it exactly right,” says Dell’Aquila. The 2,500-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment certainly wows visitors with its dramatic paint treatments and impressive finishes, but it’s the kitchen—viewed just beyond the foyer upon exiting the elevator—that makes the first impression.

“Greg knew how he wanted it to look,” says Sheleg, “but he also wanted it to be very functional. This is a guy who actually cooks.” Because it’s not a large space, the design incorporates a system of stations—prep, cooking, cleaning—that are all within arm’s reach. “It almost feels like a DJ console,” Sheleg says.

The design is symmetrical—the refrigerator tower is balanced by the double ovens in the opposite tower; a drawer-style dishwasher abuts the sink on one side and a drawer-style microwave on the other. “I love that everything is balanced,” says Dell’Aquila.

A self-admitted gadget guy, Dell’Aquila incorporated the latest technology wherever possible. He has a home automation system that controls lighting, temperature and sound within various zones throughout the apartment, all by touching a central pad. Kitchen blinds open and close by remote, exposing the Manhattan skyline. LED panels serve as a backsplash along the streamlined beverage bar, changing colors in a slow, soothing rhythm.

But, Dell’Aquila’s kitchen proves that high-tech doesn’t just mean gadgets. “It means materials that are green, sustainable and eco-friendly,” says kitchen designer Richard Kregloski of Poggenpohl Paramus. Kregloski selected Poggenpohl laminate cabinets in a finish that resembles teak. The cabinets “feel and look like real wood, but are actually laminate,” he says. “That means they’re sustainable and long-lasting.”

Other products were selected because, he says, “they’re the best of the best; the longest lasting, most efficient available.” These include porcelain tile flooring, Caesarstone—a manufactured, sustainable, material—for the countertops, and top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances by Miele. “It’s high-tech elegance,” says Kregloski.

For a space so stylistically clean, it gets a surprising amount of use: nearly every Sunday Dell’Aquila cooks sauce from scratch for a kitchen teeming with family and friends.

Interior designer
Tomas Sheleg
Sheleg Design Studio,
646-244-9000, shelegstudio

Kitchen designer:
Richard Kregloski
Poggenpohl Paramus
poggenpohlnj.com; paramuspoggenpohl.com


At a Cook’s Fingertips

Carla and Chuck Nash completed the gut renovation of their Ridgewood kitchen a year ago, and haven’t stopped singing its praises since.

Hard-pressed to name their favorite feature, they nominate many: the corner lazy Susan cabinet with extraordinary storage; the dramatic lighting that’s programmed to change throughout the day; the organizational features hidden inside the drawers; and the overall flow of the workspace that makes it a snap to prepare a meal.  Suffice it to say, they adore the entire kitchen.  “All the amenities are cool,” says Chuck, the cook of the family, “but it’s the perfect work flow that makes this kitchen very easy.”

Credit Anthony Passanante, who came up with the plan. A certified kitchen designer with an office in Waldwick, Passanante stressed functionality first. “Since Chuck loves to cook, I wanted to be sure everything was at his fingertips,” says Passanante. “It’s all very organized. We packed a lot into the 11-by-13-foot space.”

Passanante didn’t hold back when adding custom features. Working within the Asian-style décor of the home, he designed the dropped-ceiling detail out of an exotic species of wood called Sapele Pommele. While it has no real function, it’s certainly a focal point. The same exotic wood was used to craft what looks like a large armoire, but is actually the refrigerator on one side and the pantry on the other. “It’s a real conversation piece,” says Carla.

Countertops are concrete, a durable material that’s “a snap to keep clean,” says Passanante. The floating shelves, flanking the sink, are also concrete. The deep farmhouse sink is another favorite, along with other smart and simple features such as the metal trivets inlaid in the concrete, flanking the stove, and the recessed nook, perfect for oils and other easy-to-grab cooking items, directly behind the cooktop. “They aren’t necessarily high-tech,” says Passanante, “but definitely functional.” For ultimate organization, every drawer was given a purpose: there are drawers for spices, knives, silverware, and another for pots and pans.

The lighting may be the most dramatic —and certainly most high-tech—feature in the kitchen. It’s Lutron Grafik Eye, a product that requires no wall switches—just one keypad that’s programmed to control all lighting scenes. The Nashes worked closely with the installer to preset lighting scenes. “I love that I come in in the morning and it’s already on a setting. It changes every couple of hours, kind of like a light show,” says Carla.

Other lighting is mostly LED technology, a strip of light about the size of a Scotch tape roll, explains Passanante, which allowed him to put light where you normally couldn’t—say, inside the frosted glass-paneled cabinets and underneath the floating concrete shelves. The overall effect is very dramatic, especially during nighttime entertaining.

“We’ve been in this house 15 years,” says Carla, “but now Chuck keeps inviting everyone over to check out his kitchen. He never gets tired of showing it off.”

Kitchen Designer: Anthony Albert Passanante, CKD, CBD
Anthony Albert Studios

Photos by Laura Moss.

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