The Expert - A Restaurateur’s Kitchen Made for a Crowd (But Cozy Enough for Two)
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A Restaurateur’s Kitchen Made for a Crowd (But Cozy Enough for Two)

Words by Gabrielle Savoie
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Photo by Julie Soefer

The cobbler’s children may have no shoes, but this pair of restaurateurs definitely have a kitchen worthy of the most memorable dining experience.

And it’s all thanks to Marie Flanigan. The couple, well-traveled empty-nesters who love food and traveling, hired the Houston-based designer when they were building their dream home in the historic Rice University neighborhood. As born entertainers, their house is a revolving door of friends, children, and grandchildren—and the kitchen needed to fit the bill.

It had to be open to a family room (for grandchildren to play around in) while still giving off an elegant European boutique hotel feel for kid-free dinner parties. It also had to be cozy enough for two, on the few evenings when no guests were present. Designing a kitchen for two restaurateurs isn’t for the faint of heart, but Marie stepped up to the task with aplomb.

The project: A new build located in the gorgeous and historic Rice University area

The location: Houston, Texas

The room: An open kitchen and family room

The clients: Restaurateurs who have children and grandchildren that visit regularly.

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Photo by Julie Soefer

Photo by Julie Soefer

Why do you think this space works so well?

This room works well because it provides three spaces in one. There is a kitchen that opens to the living area and a breakfast nook. The delineation between each area and its use is evident, but it still flows seamlessly. The room looks and feels incredibly inviting, but the restraint in design is what makes it show-stopping. 

What was the brief for this room? How did it need to function for the homeowner?

The homeowners are restaurateurs who love to cook and entertain in both formal and casual settings. This room is perfect for nights spent with their children and grandchildren who visit often. This space needed to be comfortable enough for a crowd, but cozy enough for two.

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Photo by Julie Soefer

What was your inspiration jumping-off point?

This couple is incredibly well-traveled and wanted to infuse some of their favorite destinations into the design. Throughout the entire home, you’ll find Spanish, Italian, and Moroccan influences. We designed the space to have a cozy, yet modern European feel. 

What piece do you think anchors this space?

The layering of texture is what makes this room so inviting. From the natural weave rug to the wood for the fireplace, chunky knit throws, and plaster pendant over the wood breakfast table, the entire room is a play on natural elements.  

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Photo by Julie Soefer

Photo by Julie Soefer

Biggest splurge in the room:

The biggest splurge was the gorgeous plasterwork by Segretto Finishes that is found throughout the space. 

Biggest challenge you had when designing this space:

Ensuring that such a large space did not detract from the welcoming feel of the room. It was very important to take scale into account and ensure it lived purposefully. 

How would you describe the vibe of this space?

A European boutique hotel!

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