The kitchens of the wealthy in the United States today are capable of providing a humbling experience to the uninitiated. Attempts to procure ice cubes can transform the most dignified guest into a hapless burglar rummaging through drawers for loose gems.
“I don’t think I’ve had a client that’s wanted to reveal their fridge for a very long time,” said Martyn Lawrence Bullard, an English interior designer whose namesake firm in Los Angeles has evanesced major household appliances for the likes of Cher, Tommy Hilfiger and Kylie Jenner. “In the last five years, everything we’ve done has had a hidden fridge.”
“Panel-ready” refrigerators, the facades of which are designed to accommodate (typically via systems of brackets and screws) custom pieces of wood indistinguishable from a kitchen’s built-in cabinetry, have become standard. Thus, it is not only possible, but usual, to look at a newly built luxury kitchen and be unable to immediately ascertain whether it contains an icebox.
The fervor for concealing appliances resulted from kitchens increasingly being used as rooms for casual congregation, rather than as areas dedicated exclusively to the preparation of food.
“Kitchens used to be concealed,” said Shannon Wollack, the founder of Studio Life/Style, an interior design firm in West Hollywood. “It had a door. That was where you had all your appliances. It was like the work space. And now, kitchens are more of a lifestyle. You want to make it pretty and seamless.”
These spaces are being furnished “as living rooms,” Mr. Bullard said. “We add art. You add expensive lighting. The island becomes sort of the modern-day dining table.” (The real dining table remains confined to a separate, less-used room.)