Where Food Meets Art
Oprah's chef, Art Smith, turns a tiny outdated kitchen into a sleek, spacious sensation.
Art Smith's kitchen before
Art's original kitchen was so small (600 square feet) that he had no space to train the chef's assistants who volunteer with Common Threads, his not-for-profit organization for kids. Instead, he had to set up a teaching area in the dining room.
  • Old appliances and a narrow, impractical layout were a recipe for disaster.
  • The red refrigerator and sink clashed with the wallpaper.
  • One small window and dim overhead lighting made the kitchen gloomy even at midday.
  • A radiator on the back wall consumed valuable space.
"This was the first kitchen I'd ever designed in my 20 years of professional work. I wanted it to be right." One of his major creative inspirations: Oprah. "In all her homes, Oprah has a big island in the kitchen, which is a wonderful workspace for food preparation and a great serving space for buffets," Art notes.
Art Smith's kitchen after
Now, Art's kitchen is open and airy! The kitchen's square design allows Art to go easily from sink to refrigerator to cooktop as he whips up a meal. Among the changes:

  • A smarter use of space. The renovation team tore out the corner bathroom and the radiator on the back wall and replaced them with a desk, several overhead teak cabinets, a small shelving unit, and one of Art's two large refrigerators. The team installed space-saving radiant heating beneath the floor.
  • A bright idea. To take advantage of the kitchen's natural light, Fitzsimons widened the back doorway, and instead of a solid wood door, he hung a French double door with glass panels. A last-minute addition, a stylish transom, lets even more sunlight stream in from the east. Plus, recessed lights in the ceiling and under the cabinets brighten up things, "making it a kitchen you want to spend a lot of time in," Art says.
  • Countertops galore. At Art's request, Elliott and Fitzsimons installed Carrera marble countertops along every wall. "When you're cooking, the greatest luxury is to have plenty of counter space," Art says. Also, an 11 1/2-inch sink—more than three inches deeper than the standard model—provides plenty of room for cleaning the produce Art buys at the farmers' market.
Plus, Art installed two Viking Range refrigerators—for his professional use and for his and Jesús' everyday groceries—that match the new cabinets from Varenna Poliform, giving the kitchen its unified look.
Art Smith's kitchen before
Before, the kitchen in Art's 1920s Chicago condo was small and outdated.

  • The busy wallpaper and dark cabinets and flooring were "ugly," Art says.
  • Narrow countertops offered little room for preparation.
  • Storage space was limited.
Art Smith's kitchen after
The design team expanded the kitchen by removing the wall to the dining room. This created a large eat-in space and a place for Art to train his chef's assistants. A nine-foot counter now stands where the wall once did. "This is the big, gorgeous kitchen I've always wanted," Art says. Among the changes:

  • The room was expanded from 600 to 1,400 square feet, to add a dining area.
  • Teak cabinets, marble countertops, and limestone floors provide a clean, modern look.
Art and his partner, Jesús Salgueiro, a Venezuelan-born artist, made their own island by placing a large slab of marble atop two tables they had bought years earlier in a Chicago antiques store. "I loved finding a new use for something we already owned," Art says. "Marble ages beautifully, and it's so easy to clean."
Art Smith's butler pantry before
Art's butler pantry was crowded and cluttered. A bulky old washing machine and dryer consumed one entire side of the pantry and open shelving contributed to a messy look.
Art Smtih's butler pantry after
The butler's pantry is now spacious enough for storage and laundry.

"This is my favorite room in the house," Art says of the butler's pantry. No wonder, since it contains a specially designed, custom-built floor-to-ceiling Varenna shelving unit for his extensive collection of Staub and Le Creuset cookware—a storage idea inspired by his friend Julia Child. Every pot has its place. "I like my cookware out so I know exactly where it is," Art explains.
  • Lean and clean. A sleek washer and dryer set fits neatly under the marble countertop, leaving plenty of room for a utility sink.
  • Behind closed doors. A series of teak cabinets cover the back wall and provide extra storage space for small appliances and additional pots and pans.
  • Something to celebrate. A full-size wine cellar with three temperature zones holds as many as 150 bottles, including Art's favorite Italian reds.
  • Details, details. Limestone flooring extended from the kitchen, recessed lighting, and walls painted in a Benjamin Moore eggshell finish make the room warm and cheerful.
The wine cellar is from Viking Range; the washer and dryer are from Bosch.

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