Since today is both Chinese New Year and Japanese Setsubun (Bean-Throwing Festival), I feel like a dose of red is in order. Coupled with requests for more Asian inspired kitchens, I have two sleek modern kitchens to show – both hinging on the color red – and both quite different from the rustic mizuya tansu (kitchen chests) I have shown in the past.

Designed by the architect Winthrop Faulkner for playwright Barbara McConagha, this first kitchen has many literal Japanese references and details. Inspired by Japanese jewelry cases, the red cabinets were custom-built and lacquered and traditional pull handles, like those found on tansu chests, were ordered from Japan. Upper storage is hidden behind shoji screens which can be lit from behind. Maple cabinetry and small shadow boxes are highlighted by painting their interiors black and filling them with ceramics. A witty touch is the classic farmhouse table – in this case painted black and sealed to look like lacquer.

Storage for extra books was squeezed in below the ceiling and a library ladder, designed to taper like a pair of chopsticks, was built for access.

This second kitchen in a historic 1915 Chicago building was renovated  by architect Lawrence Booth. It’s keystone is the bright red Aga stove, set for cooking worship in its own altar-like niche. The shiny finish looks almost like lacquer and its stalwart British shape could almost be a tansu base.

Again we see the contrast between the light maple cabinetry and the dark black honed granite with touches of stainless steel. There are also great details, like the flip down drawers hiding all the electrical outlets and disposal switches and the pot filling faucet at the stove.

The adjacent sitting area has cabinetry filled with Asian display items, including Chinese and Burmese lacquer pieces and a kimono box, an unusual glossy red ceramic garden stool and a richly colored Persian rug. And speaking of molded plywood the other day, how great is that Frank Gehry Ribbon chair? The contrast of textures, finishes and periods makes this space sing.

Definitely two kitchens that would keep any evil spirits at bay…

Image credits: 1 & 2. House & Garden, February 1998, 3-6. House & Garden, date unknown.