National Post

Winnipeg Winner

Architect Dov Secter created this kitchen for his family home, and the design world fell in love By Martha Uniacke Breen


With its glossy lacquer and stone surfaces, pushbutton cabinets and minimalist detail, the kitchen in architect Dov Secter’s Winnipeg home could double as the galley of a starship. But behind its deceptivel­y simple visual geometry, it’s a marvel of planning and function.

The Secters’ home doubles as -the headquarte­rs of his archi tecture practice — his wife, S- arah, handles the firm’s busi n- ess affairs and does art con sulting — and is a showroom for his work. But it’s also an active family home. “My parents are both architects and have a home- based practice as well, so I grew up around design and renovation — I still work with my dad regularly,” he says. “I like that my two little daughters a-re growing up with an appreci ation of design and art as well.”

One of the guiding principles, h-e explains, was how the kitch e-n fit into the open-concept de sign of the main floor. “A lot of clients want open layouts, but a kitchen can be tricky. It’s great, when you’re in there cooking, t-o be part of the action and talk ing to other people. But the rest of the time, you don’t want to have to look at appliances. So the ‘ hide and seek’ aspect was taken to an extreme here.”

And indeed, you have to look a little more closely to even see where the appliances are. One end of the kitchen is taken up with a wall finished in matte black, a visual counterpoi­nt to the sleek whiteness of the rest of the room. Pull on one of the two long, slim handles, and the wall opens to reveal a good-sized walki-n pantry, kitted out with draw ers and shelves for coffee maker and microwave, food storage, and a counter. Pull on the other, and you f i nd the fridge: a 30” Sub-Zero panelready full-fridge model. (A pair of freezer drawers to the right of t-he sink is simi l arly hidden.) And just above t he ovens on the right side, a large cupboard opens and closes transom-style, but there’s no need to stretch; it operates by push button.

And therein lies perhaps the neatest thing about this — in all senses — neat kitchen. Using mechanical systems developed by the European manufactur­er Blum, all of the upper cabinetry opens with a touch, folding upw-ards and out of the way effort l-essly. “This is much more conven ient than regular cabinet doors that get in the way when they’re open,” he says, adding they’re great for older clients as well, since the mechanism does all the heavy lifting. ( They also operate manually in a power outage.)

The island is a full five feet w-ide, roomy enough to cut vege tables or knead dough on the kitchen side and feed kids on the other. Its wide proportion­s meant there was unused space in its centre — which gave Secter an idea. At the push of another button located at the end of the island, up rises a storage unit that houses everyday small app- liances, such as the food pro cessor and mixer Sarah uses for her frequent baking.

“-It was adapted from a mech anized TV lift,” Secter says. “It’s got a built- in power panel, and a hidden trough underneath for spills.” And when yo u’ r e not using it, he adds, it pops back down and you again have the full surface of the island. It’s m- ore conven i-ent than an ap pliance garage, since the gadgets are stored right where you need them, and much sleeker than having them on the counter.

“Any chance I have to work and live in a kitchen I planned myself is a pleasure,” he says. “A lot of young designers don’t have that opportunit­y. And I’m a huge fan of modern architectu­re, so it’s a great pleasure to give my wife and kids that gift; we share the space together.”

And the world gets to enjoy it now, too: It was voted the world’s best contempora­ry kitchen in the Sub-Zero/Wolf internatio­nal kitchen contest, which drew 1,700 entries from 16 countries.

To work and live in a kitchen I planned is a pleasure

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