Drama was a priority for the owners of this high-contrast kitchen, with functionality a bonus. “They wanted a showpiece for events,” says architect Kevin Alter. “They wanted the opposite of a family kitchen.”

Located in a 1971 home with little to offer except for a nice location on a hill, the existing galley kitchen was small, dark, and ugly with brown tiles, dated laminate, and little connection to the rest of the house.

Alter and fellow architect Ernesto Cragnolino totally reorganized the middle portion of the house where the kitchen was located, razing walls and distilling the new space to its barest essence. A large island topped with striking Calcutta Gold marble is now complemented by walnut base cabinets and a white terrazzo floor.

Meanwhile, the refrigerator, a pantry, and additional storage cabinets were relocated to an adjacent breakfast area. “We liked the idea of not having upper cabinets,” Alter explains, although their absence necessitated something else to draw and hold the eye. The duo opted for a black wall/backsplash fabricated from lacquer-painted medium-density fiberboard. Despite its hue, the wall element does not make the space seem dark. “It has a huge amount of glass nearby as well as a skylight above that brings light down into the space, so we felt good about using it.”

Entrant/Architect/Kitchen designer:Alterstudio Architects, Austin, Texas; Builder: Garza Design & Construction, Austin

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Austin, TX.