Bob Richter’s love affair with antiques started at age 7 when he began his personal collection. He is a hopeless collector, admitted shopaholic and a lover of all things Art Deco. This week, Bob gives us a tour of his own NYC kitchen — a tiny space with a big personality.
Bob says: In New York, we grow accustomed to living in smaller spaces, and this tiny galley kitchen (only 7′ x 10′) needed to serve not only as a functional space to cook, but also as a place where I’d feel comfortable working from home.
In order to keep the flow and make the space feel larger, I had the entire space gutted and chose white cabinetry with glass doors to display my china. I also got rid of any large appliances, and found the smallest dishwasher and stove on the market. Finally, I used mirrors on the backsplashes and treated the custom Art Deco stained glass window as a grand focal point. The great thing about a stained glass window is that it lets in a great deal of natural light, but it also gives me privacy.
I often sit at the counter on that fun orange bar stool and work. I’m surrounded with some of my most favorite things and always feel very comfy and inspired.
A very dear friend and mentor of mine who was an antiques dealer passed away and left me her Riviera china, so I decided to design the kitchen around that china. Riviera comes in colors similar to the original Fiesta Ware, but unlike Fiesta, was only produced for a few years in the 1930′s, so it’s very Art Deco in feel.
With the china as my guide, I chose green Corian countertops (the color is Citron Ice), a delightful orange refrigerator, and the window, of course, which picks up more of the green and the yellow in the china. I also painted the walls in the kitchen and dining area a pale green, as I find it to be the most soothing and enjoyable color to be around.
This fridge makes me smile every day. It’s from an Italian company called SMEG. It has the perfect Art Deco lines for the room, the china and the apartment in general. Inside it I use vintage Jade-ite storage containers and glass carafes to store leftovers and to serve.
I went with custom cabinets in this space. The cabinets needed to store not only the wonderful china I inherited, but also my other vintage kitchen goodies, including several other sets of china (other favorite patterns include “Green Wheat” by Leigh Potters and “Syren” by Royal Doulton — both Art Deco patterns). I needed cabinets that could accommodate my china and other kitchen items, and leave enough room on top to display my collection of vintage mixing bowls. I use all of my things, so they needed to be easily accessible. For a fun touch on the kitchen cabinetry, I found vintage Jade-ite knobs to match my Jade-ite collection which is also housed in the cabinets.
In the dining room, I wanted it to feel like an eat-in library, or dare I say even an “Olde Curiosity Shoppe,” so I had my carpenter build custom cabinetry with thick moldings on the top and on the edges of each of the shelves. To give depth, and to make my collections of pottery, books and art pop, I painted the walls behind the shelving the same creamy green as the rest of the room.
Directly opposite the stained glass window in the kitchen is a similar set of stained glass doors in the dining area. They bring light and symmetry to a space that, given my collector’s nature, has a lot going on.
When displaying a collection, assemble things by color and size. A painting leaning on a shelf with a great piece of pottery in front of it is always a great start. The most important thing is to experiment and have fun. If you don’t like it, you can always change it. I rotate my collections of art, pottery and other curiosities on a regular basis. Serious collectors understand that when something comes in (as it usually does), something has to go out. I came home this past weekend with a huge white porcelain Dresden monkey. I’m crazy about him. He’s now in a place of prominence on one of the shelves. That meant the steer horns and bronze statue that were there before had to move elsewhere.
The tea set that’s in the Art Deco wooden china cabinet was my grandmother’s. She’s 98, but wanted to give me her special things while she was alive so I could enjoy them with her. She and I have shared many a cup of tea with that set — first in her home watching Loveboat, and then later in mine.