q&a with libby palmieri

Why is it that when you entertain, people always congregate in the kitchen? When we built our home, we purposefully went with a very open floor space so that when we do entertain, people could spread out. We even added a built-in bench in the kitchen for people to sit. Doesn’t matter. Regardless of how many people we have over, everyone always hovers around the kitchen island (which is always enjoyable when you’re trying to cook, right?). And as we plan to move and hopefully build again in the near future, it’s the kitchen that is the one room I really want to expand and focus on and allow for a proper flow of guests. When that time comes, I want Libby Palmieri with House of L to design our dream kitchen. In fact, she can just duplicate her current kitchen – it’s simply beautiful and the perfect representation of her talents and smart eye for design. Kudos to Libby for winning first place in the Sub Zero/Wolf kitchen design contest, too.

1. What is the first thing you notice when you walk into a restaurant? When I enter a restaurant’s reception area it always intrigues me to see how the space is going to pull you in. I think lighting adds a huge dimension of visual interest since it seems many restaurants play up higher ceilings, so I enjoy looking up to see how that has been addressed.

2. If you could redesign any restaurant in Cleveland, which one would it be and why? I think Giovanni’s because it feels a bit stagnant right now and needs to redefine its classic appeal but with a fresher look that doesn’t feel stale.  Or Pacific East in Coventry. Great food but the surrounding are a bit dank and unappealing.

3. For home cooks, how can they get the most out of their kitchen? I think regardless of whether a kitchen’s footprint is big or small the most critical component is trying to have some good workspace – like a counter area where food prep can be done.  I think that really anyone who is cooking needs to be more comfortable in their given environment.

4. Whether it’s the kitchen or another room, what are some simple things people could instantly do to refresh their space? Paint is the most inexpensive way to instantly give some serious drama or soft revamp to any room in a house.  Too many people are timid to unleash color in their house so they stick to safer and “tried and true” type of shades that won’t cause them grief if they hate it. But being adventuresome with paint can be surprisingly refreshing and expressive, just like a painting.

5. Where are your favorite stores/sites to shop for home goods? I LOVE Target! They do a fantastic job of creating a look from a higher end brand to help it become more universally available.  For an endless source of cool antiques in any era 1st Dibs is amazing.  It’s like pulling every antique store from around the country (and internationally as well) and putting them on your screen.  Also, Decorati is a great way for the pedestrian consumer to get a peek at merchandise available in design centers and connect with interior designers in their area.

6. What design/color trends do you see on the horizon? I feel the movement right now is in going green so there is a huge trend in salvaged and reclaimed products that are then used to make new pieces. Antiques are perfect recyclable pieces to weave into ones homes and there use is back on the rise.  Color trends I am seeing are a return to grays as a neutral and moving away from the chocolate colors that have dominated the color landscape for the last several years now.  All shades of purple from amethyst, to lavender and pale pink tourmanline shades are very hot right now.  And patterns are very graphic and geometric pulling from classic designs like the Greek key.

7. What is your favorite thing to cook at home? My strongest suit is Italian cuisine and I love making homemade pastas, gnocchi and pizza.  But I also really pull from essential American favorites – I make a killer mac and cheese!

8. If you could be any chef for a day, who would it be? Oooh-that’s a tough question because I admire so many great chefs.   I might have to be a different chef everyday of the week to fulfill that wish.  On my list I’d definitely include Mario Batalli, Thomas Keller and Julia Child.  When I first started cooking her books was one of my first and I followed her recipes religiously. 

9. What’s the most popular trend right now in kitchen design? Oversized very commercial feeling faucets are something I am seeing emerging.  Dorenbract’s Tara or Kohler’s Karbon are great examples.  Very architectural feeling and almost intimidating in scale they are a new presence that have a commercial kitchen feel but amazingly blend well with traditional or contemporary kitchens.

10. What’s your last meal on earth? Ah, another tough question…hmmm, OK probably a plate of spaghetti cooked al dente with a simple marinara and lots of aged parmigiano reggiano cheese.  A Greek salad with feta cheese from the import store.  And of course a  huge slice of white cake with white buttercream frosting for dessert and some Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.  And maybe a piece of honey ladden galaktobouriko (a Greek pastry that is fillo dough with a pocket a creamy custard inside and then bathed in a honey syrup). Obviously you can see where my priorities are… but hey if I’m going, might as well be in a sugar coma!

11. You’re hosting a dinner party, top 5 songs on your playlist? I don’t know if I’d go by songs as much as artists. I get too caught up in the food so I usually just hit Genius on my ipod and let it get a mix going for me.  It also depends on who is coming to the dinner party. I’m not loyal to any specific genre because I love so many different styles of music, so it could range from Boccelli to the Black Eyed Peas.

12. What’s your favorite restaurant in town and which one do you miss? I really love Lola’s.  I think Michael Symon has done a great job at creating a great feel good vibe and a menu that takes the essence of Cleveland with a cool twist to it that is unexpected yet homey.  Zach Bruell’s Z’s at Eton Collection. That was the gathering place!

13. How did you become an interior designer? It was something I was destined to do. I am very artistic and this was a venue for me to express that creative side that needs to come out.  Otherwise I feel like I’m suffocating.  That’s probably why I enjoy cooking so much as well because I get to unleash all that pent up creative angst!

14. What brand of kitchen appliances do you always recommend to your clients? What’s in your kitchen? Is stainless here to stay? I am a huge Wolf and Subzero fan.  I have them in my own kitchen and their performance is unquestionably the best.  Stainless steel appliances are here for the long haul.  Our culture is completely enthralled with chefs, the Food Network and the appeal of having that “professional” feel in our homes is something we really like, myself included.  The status of being taken seriously in your kitchen is partially defined by that clean look that stainless offers and thus the instant appeal.

One Comment

  1. Jim Genda
    Posted April 17, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Libby is, and always be, a Greek goddess to me.