Well I know I have written about unusual kitchen islands here before, but I have never shown you my favorite kind of island, let alone my actual favorite one! For many many years I have been tracking the kitchens of the uber-talented Peri Wolfman and her husband Charles Gold, both out in the Hamptons and in their New York City loft on Greene Street. Through the 80s and the 90s they owned one of the most influential design stores in Soho – Wolfman-Gold & Good – full of simple white tableware stacked and displayed to highlight its beauty. I think they, along with Martha Stewart, radicalized how people displayed collections of functional objects and turned white ironstone into a fetishised and collected object. I know for me, walking in there, newly married and looking for direction (and some white dishes), my vision would never be the same as a result. And to this day, I am still using those white dishes…
Their earliest kitchen out in the Hamptons that I know of is this one, and it begins my tale of obsession. The wideplanked floorboards, dark cabinets with white marble counter, the open shelves laden with simple white shapes and of course, this French pastry table used as an island. I can’t figure out the date or what magazine published the spread, but it was early 90s and dear to my heart. I am not sure that I have ever moved on from this kitchen, and if you think about the kitchens we see all the time today that are constantly blogged about – Sally Wheat’s, the kitchen in Something’s Gotta Give – they all have their roots here. As I now have a late 19th century kitchen that desperately needs remodeling, I have a chance to take some lessons from the Wolfman-Golds and put them to work. Starting work on my kitchen continues to rest on finding the perfect island.
Here’s a more distant view via the architect’s site, although the color is off…
The double sink (so they can cook together) is another signature Wolfman Gold detail that we see here. This is one of the earliest views of a front apron sink that I can recall too. And don’t the ironstone pitchers remind you of this more recent photo I have shown a few times on the blog?
I can remember my surprise in 2003, flipping through Country Living and stopping on this photo. My mind jumped to attention and I thought “my beloved marble-topped island – what is it doing there?” I quickly realized it had not left the family, but that Wolfman and Gold had built a new house, similar, but also different from the original. In addition to the island, the shelves and the ironstone, the wide floorboards, double sink and general mood remained, while the overall space took on a more modern, less country feel. Note the quote…
You can see the bracket and beadboard detail over in the corner by the stove.
Fast forward to 2008 and Elle Decor featured yet a new house built for the Wolfman-Golds, designed in collaboration with Jack Ceglic, a collection of modern white corrugated-steel jewels. Here the country look has melded with industrial – Peri and Charles have most definitely moved on, even if I wasn’t ready for them to. The kitchen island is basically a larger stainless steel version of the marble-topped island from the previous homes, albeit with more storage. But what I really want to know is where has that other table gone? No answers are to be found in the accompanying article.
Her beloved ironstone pitchers still line open shelves – that much has not changed. And again, even with all the more modern stainless steel, the overall feeling of simplicity remains.
And if you look closely at the terrace, the mismatched French iron chairs have made it over from their earlier home. I just want to sit here all day drinking copious amounts of iced tea.
I share another love with Peri Wolfman – galvanized tin containers (and hydrangeas) – only she has soooo much more storage space for them!
Going back in time, we switch to the kitchen in her Greene Street loft in Soho, an apartment I believe she and Gold have lived in for almost 20 years. This photo comes from a New York Times article about how a building developed right next to them made them lose some windows in their apartment, including one over the double sinks. Instead of pouting forever, they ran the beadboard over the space where the window had been and extended their display shelves. It looks so amazing, you would never even believe a window had been there. More goodies here include another French baking table (although without a marble top) and some kind of shop counter making up the other side of the kitchen. The copper pots are worth drooling over and I love the vintage screen door on the pantry.
I am pretty sure the cover of their 1999 book A Place for Everything is shot through that pantry door.
Again fast forward, this time to winter 2011. Here too, I believe she may have moved on although I am not perfectly sure. In this recent Oprah Magazine article from this past winter on this master of organization and storage, Wolfman seems to be in a newly designed kitchen which they refer to as being in her apartment. Now I don’t believe they moved, so they must have remodeled. Clean, sleek and white and more contemporary than its previous incarnation, her signature orderly display of everyday objects is still the key component.
Dishes are neatly stacked in the pantry.
Wooden cooking utensils make a glorious and simple bouquet.
So it just goes to show that in the Wolfman-Good world, the more things change, the more they also stay the same. But what I would really like to know is where that marble-topped bakers table in the older Hamptons houses lives today!!!
What makes this post so apropos right now is that Peri visited Tokyo this past weekend and we hung out!!!!! (Lots of exclamation points necessary) On Sunday we ravaged the Oedo Antique Fair together, shopping till we almost dropped and I got answers to many of my questions. Tune in to my next post to see what Peri bought and hear more about her philosophy.
Image credits: 1&3. unknown, 2. via Bogdanow Partners, 4-5. Country Living July 2003, photographer unknown, 6-9 Elle Decor June 2008, photo credit: Joshua McHugh, 10. The New York Times August 18, 2005, photo credit: John Lei, 11. via Amazon, 12-14. O, The Oprah Magazine February 22, 2011, photo credit: William Waldron