Chicago's Mick De Giulio rethinks everything from the refrigerator door to the kitchen sink.

"Designing a kitchen is like doing any other room in a house; not everything has to match," says Chicago-based designer Mick De Giulio (312-494-9200 or For the one above, he created the ebonized walnut island as a freestanding piece of furniture that's handsome enough for any part of the house. He also mixed and matched styles and colors for the cabinets around the stove and sink and on the island. For example, near the sink, De Giulio used linen-white "Beaux Arts" cabinets, which he designed for the German company SieMatic (, while next to the stove he chose stained walnut.

Wine Room Furniture De Giulio designed this walnut table with bottle slots made from terra-cotta drainpipes to help keep wine cool. He says wine pantries—entertaining areas outside chilly cellars—are growing in popularity.

The Not-Neutral Kitchen De Giulio's kitchens have a strong sense of color and texture even when the palette is neutral. The 400-square-foot kitchen shown above has warm-yellow flooring, countertops, walls and cabinets. Here are some distinctive details:

LIMESTONE FLOOR The 16-square-inch tiles are extra-large and installed with minimal grout so the floor appears almost seamless.

FRENCH LIMESTONE COUNTERTOPS Since limestone is somewhat porous—which means it stains more easily than harder stones like granite—the subtle red, yellow, green and blue swirls in the scoon help hide discoloration. The counters overhang the bird's-eye maple cabinets by only half an inch, instead of the more common inch, so that they are almost flush, creating a cleaner look.

STAINLESS STEEL AND LIMESTONE SINK De Giulio also used French limestone for the sides of the sink, which helps it visually blend into the countertops. He lined the bottom of the sink in stainless steel, because it's easier to work with than stone when creating a drainage slope. He put the drain in a corner, so a pot placed in the center of the sink won't prevent water from emptying. The sink is also fitted with a custom sliding teak cutting board, which makes it simpler to wash and chop produce, then clean up afterward.

CHINOISERIE-STYLE REFRIGERATOR De Giulio created a custom integrated red-lacquer design that looks like an armoire and covers two Sub-Zero appliances installed side by side—a 700TR refrigerator and a 700TFI freezer, each with a main door and two drawers underneath.

    By Christine Quinlan and Lily Barberio