“Can you do a black kitchen?” Mario J. Mulea laughs as he recalls the first words the homeowner spoke to him. The homeowner had just stepped into the showroom for Kitchen Designs by Ken Kelly (kitchendesigns.com), a firm serving the Long Island area of New York where Mulea works as a kitchen designer. As an experienced interior designer herself, the homeowner had a clear vision of what she wanted to accomplish. That she sought Mulea’s help offers a clue into how specialized and complicated kitchen design can be.
The kitchen in the homeowner’s nearly-century-old Tudor was the final update that needed to be made to return the home to its former glory. In Mulea, she found a kindred spirit who appreciated the history of her home and believed it should inform and inspire the design. “I always talk about the house first,” he says, describing his design process. “What’s the style of the house? What neighborhood is it in? Do the interiors match the architecture? If you have a center-hall colonial and you ask for cobalt-blue, high-gloss cabinets, I’ll tell you that you’ve picked the wrong designer. I’m not going to do that.”