BELOW DECK Architect Ralph Cunningham, founding principal of Cunningham & Quill in Washington, D.C., says clients do not usually ask for cookbook storage in residential remodels, but his firm routinely includes shelving on islands. “People have books in kitchens — I think it's great to have a place for them,” he says.
However, he says the true reason he includes shelves and storage is that they help him solve a design dilemma. “The ends of islands are ugly. They usually have a big, blank panel. Books are so much more pleasant,” he says.
Cunningham designs the shelves based on what will be most architecturally pleasing in the space. He says most cabinet manufacturers offer bookcases or shelving products, but notes that it is marginally easier to design storage using custom cabinets. “You can control all the details around [the storage], especially where it meets another panel or cabinet,” he says.
Deborah Malone, president of JP Malone Construction, in Scottsdale, Ariz., says some homeowners are avid cooks and want to display their cookbooks — especially oversized or unique volumes. Other clients prefer hidden storage.
JP Malone Construction has a cabinet shop and installation crews, so Malone says she can custom design storage for each client.
For those who want hidden storage, Malone usually uses the top shelf of the pantry. For one client who likes to bake, she created a baking center with two ovens and installed a nearby desk with shelves for books and recipe storage. “We're seeing that gourmet cooks take the time to plan,” she says.
For another client's rustic Spanish-style remodel, Malone created niches in the drywall with curved edges that imitated adobe walls.