One of the reasons this penthouse was among the last units to sell in a 26-story high-rise, despite its killer river views, is that its kitchen was over the top—in a bad way. The original layout had two islands, a superfluous luxury that ate into the living area. “We were trying to be prudent ... but we did have to rip out some of the rough-ins to improve the design,” says architect John Behal, whose simplified layout features a single island with a tighter workspace.

The openness of the plan did require some careful integration, though. Variations in ceiling heights, combined with furniture-like storage, both define and connect the cooking area to adjacent spaces. The building’s structural concrete ceiling is exposed high above a circular dining area, but in the kitchen the ceiling drops down and “floats” above the island, placing task lighting closer to prep surfaces.

To create the illusion of rails in the full-overlay cabinets, the woodworker used fir and reconstituted fir, turning the veneer perpendicular to create a perimeter border around each cabinet face. “The warm gray wash has a softness that contrasts nicely with the stainless steel, marble, and glass tiles,” Behal says. The biggest challenge was working around fixed structural and mechanical elements. A tall bank of cabinets next to the balcony contains a pantry but also conceals a structural column. And connecting the vent hood required some slight re-jiggering behind the walls. “Being in a high-rise, the placement of the ventilation system is not flexible,” Behal explains. “We did have a little trouble connecting to the shaft when we shifted the placement of the hood exhaust a bit.”

Entrant/Builder/Architect/Kitchen designer:Behal Sampson Dietz, Columbus, Ohio; Interior designer: Sherman + Hiteshew, Columbus

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Columbus, OH.