A Southern Chef's Kitchen
Chef John Currence invites us inside his 12th (yes, 12th) kitchen renovation—this one at his antebellum home in Oxford, Mississippi.
The goal of the kitchen project was simple (on paper): Maintain the space's original architectural integrity and open the kitchen back up to the rest of the home by reworking a previous renovation, which had left it secluded from other rooms.
Beautiful industrial appliances and a classic floor inspired by New Orleans' famed Galatoire's add the restaurant influences in this kitchen, which is, quite simply, the one that John has always dreamed of building for his family.
John tore down walls on both sides of the fireplace. Taking down these interior walls opened the kitchen to the formal dining room and a newly created casual dining space in the home's repurposed center hall.
A double-sided, coal-burning fireplace became a cooking fireplace, and the original wood (cut from trees in the yard) was remilled for shelves and countertops.
Well-lit spaces are key in restaurant kitchens. John maximized lighting in his home by using clear glass shades throughout the kitchen and dining areas.
In his wine cellar, John used the 15% surplus of kitchen tile (a typical amount left over) on the floors and remilled the original wood for shelves.
John prefers to keep a lot of things out on display, such as his liquor collection shown here. He believes this forces you to keep your life a little more tidy.
The wide center hall of John's antebellum home became a casual dining area. Guests peer into the kitchen through sliding windows, as you can in many restaurants.
An industrial-grade stainless steel refrigerator with ample storage and a glass-front door resembles those in the kitchens of John's restaurants, which include City Grocery and Snackbar in Oxford.
A cherry red Lacanche range anchors the island and is surrounded by navy cabinetry. Appropriately, these are the school colors for Oxford's Ole Miss. Built-in nooks keep cutting boards handy.
What John Did
Shortened Steps: "When I design, I place things strategically to limit my range of movement around the workspace," says John.
Mixed Materials: "I like to create a feast for the eyes using surfaces that are easy to clean," he says. "In here, the wood-topped island softens and warms the room."
Splurged on Appliances: John says, "I'm not insisting that you buy the most expensive of everything, but research all options. If you need to spend a few extra bucks for quality, do it. These are the building blocks of your kitchen."
Deeply Considered His Floor: "With traffic, food, and grease, the kitchen floor is the hardest one in a house to keep clean," he says. "We knew we'd have to be diligent with the black and white hex tile, but the darker grout does help hide dirt."