Stunning St. Charles Kitchen & Breakfast Room at the 40th Anniversary Kips Bay Decorator Show House

If you haven’t seen the St. Charles kitchen and breakfast room in the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, be sure to check it out before it closes on Thursday. After designing the space in 2003, 2006 and 2009, St. Charles’ veteran designers Karen Williams and Robert Schwartz once again accepted the challenge to transform the space into a dream designer kitchen. Williams and Schwartz used the penthouse’s incredible view of both Manhattan and the Hudson River as inspiration for their design. Schwartz describes the space as “a hot design with a cool sophistication.” As a nod to NYC, the room they created is an open floor plan that combines two distinct areas in an elegant and exciting fashion.

Let’s take a closer look….

The kitchen’s design is based on the full-service, vibrant red cooking island by La Cornue. This “red hot” color is shown throughout the room. Mixed metals, figured walnut wood and high gloss cabinetry are just some of the elegant features that make this stunning room a one-of-a-kind space. The breakfast area is centered around a striking 1940s Murano Glass Tulip fixture, which hangs over a quartz table. The area also features a custom curved furniture-server designed by Karen Williams herself.

Photography by Eric Van Den Brulle

GLitz and glitter kitchen by karen williams draws crowds at Architectural Digest Home Design Show

A rich burgundy La Cornue Château island set off by a stunning 24Kt platinum gold mosaic wall and  gilded sconces drew big crowds to Karen Williams’ glitzy and glamorous  French kitchen at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show last week.

Visitors were also intrigued by the unique La Cornue Flamberge rotisserie, a favorite of Williams.

Karen Williams' glitzy and glamorous kitchen was a big hit at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show

In addition to designing a show-stopping vignette for La Cornue, Williams participated in “The Evolving Kitchen” panel discussion along with celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto and Anne Puricelli, director, La Cornue North America.  Williams stressed that as an enthusiastic cook, she designs kitchens today with an emphasis on stations to accommodate several cooks, rather than around the old-fashioned work triangle.

Karen Williams AD Home Design Show panel
Karen Williams participated in “The Evolving Kitchen” panel discussion at the Architectural Design Home Design Show.

She also talked about creating zones or multiple islands in large kitchens to make them more user-friendly. And she outlined her approach to creating relaxing culinary spaces in vacation homes.

Karen Williams at The Evolving Kitchen panel discussion
Williams said she often designs a breakfast center in a second home kitchen  because it’s such a leisurely meal on weekends and vacations.

Karen Williams joins Jonathan Waxman on Architectural Digest Kitchen Panel

On Thursday, March 22 Karen Williams joins celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto and Anne Puricelli, Director La Cornue North America, for a stimulating panel discussion on “The Evolving Kitchen.”  It takes place at 10:30  at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show, Pier 94, 55th St. and 11th Avenue.

They will talk about changing trends in kitchen design and equipment, and offer advice on ways to make kitchens truly personalized culinary spaces. Williams, a knowledgeable and enthusiastic home cook, and Waxman, a professional chef, will both offer their insights on what makes a kitchen a delight to work in.

The panel will be moderated by John (Doc) Willoughby, cookbook author and executive editor at America’s Test Kitchen.

Visitors to the show can also see a glamourous kitchen designed by Williams in the La Cornue booth 475. For more information go to

Karen Williams
Karen Williams offers her insights on “The Evolving Kitchen” Thursday March 22 at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show at 10:30.
Jonathan Waxman

Celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto shares the panel with Karen Williams Thursday March 22 for a discussion of today's important kitchen trends at the Architectural Digest Home Show.

Anne Puricelli

Anne Puricelli, director North America, for La Cornue adds her observations on deluxe cooking equipment at the Architectural Digest Home Show kitchen panel.

Karen Williams creates a custom cooking center in a softly contemporary kitchen

Working in a small 20’x30′ Manhattan kitchen, Karen Williams wanted to keep the look clean and simple, yet interesting. So she created a softly contemporary space with warm overtones by playing off the lovely texture of cerused oak cabinetry against the beautiful sheen of white lacquer cabinets and the deep luminosity of white glass countertops. The stainless toe kicks keep it light as well. And to further ensure an uncluttered design,  there is no decorative hardware except for the refrigerator.

In a small Manhattan kitchen Karen Williams created a softly contemporary kitchen with cerused oak cabinetry and white glass countertops.

Because it’s a small room, Williams wanted the island to feel like a piece of furniture. A traditional island would have been too heavy, like an anchor in the middle of the space. This one feels lighter thanks in part to the sculpted table-like legs finished with stainless feet. The island is open on the bottom with room for storage, and has a drop down panel for electrical outlets, plus a breadbox and cutlery drawers. And there is convenient seating for two.

cerused oak kitchen island
The island feels more like a work table with sculpted legs.

She also created a special custom cooking center, one of her Signature Elements, developed over more than 30 years of design experience.  Here Williams used a six-burner cooktop and added a steamer on the left and a stainless counter on the right, all with the same profile for one unified piece. She believes there is no need to settle for an out-of-the-box solution when it comes to appliances.

custom cooking center
Karen Williams created one of her Signature Elements, a custom cooking center.

For the built-in ovens, Williams borrowed a look she first saw in Europe and loves because it’s so clean. She recessed the panel that holds the ovens resulting in a very smooth architectural line.

flush ovens
Borrowing a look she first saw in Europe, Williams installed the ovens totally flush with the cabinetry.

Karen Williams’ Blue Ribbon Color Palette Featured in Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine writes in its Winter 2011 issue about Karen Williams’ quiet and serene Blue Ribbon color palette, created for a 1,000-sq.-ft. showhouse kitchen. French blue and soft white cabinetry are set off with satin nickel hardware, all underlaid with elegant circles of glimmering glass tile.

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths Winter 2011 Blue Ribbon

Featured in Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine, this quiet palette of blue and white by Karen Williams is enlivened with a glass mosaic tile floor.

“For this large space, we wanted a delicate, slow-moving palette,” Williams said. “Your eye goes softly from one element to another, and it’s all tied together with white marble countertops with gray striations. The glass tile on the floor is unexpected and entertaining.”

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths Winter 2011 Blue Ribbon

A soft blue and white palette unites a large showhouse kitchen designed by Karen Williams.

Rustic Meets Industrial: Beautiful Kitchens & Baths Showcases a Karen Williams Color Palette

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine in its Winter issue highlights a fresh new color palette Karen Williams created for a kitchen in a converted barn home. No cliched country looks here. Instead, Williams combined blackened stainless steel and rustic barn wood cabinetry, topped with pewter and lavastone counters.

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths Winter 2011 Rustic Meets Industrial

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine featured this rustic/industrial look as one of Karen Williams' four "no-fail" color palettes.

“We used colors and surfaces that look like materials a blacksmith might have left in the barn,” Williams told the magazine. “Each surface has its own distinct feel, and taken together, they make the kitchen look as if it’s always been there. But this palette also could be used in a loft or mountain home.”

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths Rustic Meets Industrial

Barn board and blackened stainless cabinetry are right at home in a rustic barn, but would work just as well in an urban loft.

Classic French: Beautiful Kitchens & Baths Features a Karen Williams Color Palette

One of four “no-fail” color palettes featured in the Winter issue of Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine is this Classic French concept created by Karen Williams for a new Chateau-style home in Florida. Inspired by a paneled room in Versailles, she brought the cabinetry to life in the color of French butter, then enhanced it with antique-inspired gold hardware. The unexpected dazzle comes from petrified-wood quartz countertops.

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths Winter 2011 Classic French

Karen Williams' updated French palette was featured in Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine.

“The cabinetry offers soft striations and gentle curves,” Williams explained, “and the paint color is neutral and calming. It was when we added the exotic wood countertop that the glamour factor went off the map. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before — simply stunning.”

Classic French door

A paneled room in Versailles inspired Karen Williams to create the soft striations and gentle curves of this buttery door.

antique style hardware for classic French kitchen

Antique-style hardware pieces like this one further inspired her classic French palette.

petrified wood countertop

When Williams added this exotic wood countertop to a classic French kitchen, the glamour factor went off the map.

Retro Urban: Beautiful Kitchens & Baths Features a Karen Williams Palette

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine featured four “no-fail” color palettes from Karen Williams in its Winter issue including this Retro Urban palette she devised for her own compact Manhattan kitchen. The designer combined powder-coated steel mint green cabinets with fumed oak cabinets, polished chrome hardware, and satin and glossy white mosaic tile.

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths Winter 2011 Retro Urban

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine featured the Retro Urban palette Karen Williams created for her own kitchen.

“The metal cabinetry gives it a retro vibe, and the fumed oak adds the look of mink that blends with the wood herringbone floor,” Williams told the magazine. “The mixed colors are muted and work in a relatively small space, and we kept the hardware intentionally simple. The backsplash adds sparkle. It’s fun, young, urban and very tactile.”

Karen Williams Retro Urban kitchen

Fumed oak and mint green cabinetry with satin and glossy white mosaic tile create a fun, urban, tactile vibe in Karen Williams' Manhattan kitchen.

Karen Williams shares her color tips with Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine

A kitchen’s color palette is 100 percent project-specific, Karen Williams told Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine in a  recent Color by Design feature headlined “The Beauty of Subtle Color.”  A home’s architectural style and location are two key elements she first considers.

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths Winter 2011 cover

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths magazine published four "no-fail" color palettes from Karen Williams.

For example, a white kitchen might work perfectly in a classic Hamptons cottage. But for an historic Baton Rouge home where many materials are natural or reclaimed, she recently recommended a classic French palette with Mediterranean influences.

With a color-shy client, Williams suggests considering a shade that appears in other rooms of the home, one they are already comfortable with, to inspire their kitchen palette.

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths Winter 2011 Karen Williams

Beautiful Kitchens & Baths cited Karen Williams' "dreamy color palettes" in a recent article.

Room size matters, too.  “Most people think a large kitchen can accommodate a lot of color, but I feel that too much color in a large space can be overwhelming,” Williams told the magazine. “In such a setting the space itself provides plenty of drama, so I often use a more delicate palette to keep the overall impression in scale.”

“In smaller kitchens, you can have more fun with color because the space functions much like a piece of art that’s viewed singly and in its totality.”

Overall today she sees more combinations of color. “Homeowners are open to lacquered cabinets and grayer shades of oak. They’re experimenting far more now than in the past,” Williams told the magazine.