Toast-worthy Kitchens by Caren Rideau

It seems only natural that an oenophile and self-described foodie would know how to design the ultimate kitchen. For Caren Rideau, who founded The Kitchen Design Group in Pacific Palisades some twenty years ago, life’s greatest pleasures prove an endless source of inspiration. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Rideau makes frequent trips to Europe and South America to keep abreast of what’s happening around the world—melding her finds with a California touch. “Although we specialize in residential kitchen and bathroom design, we are certainly not limited to those services,” she says. “We’ll take that same artistic vision and apply it to all aspects of interior design. Our proficiency has qualified us not only to design homes but to furnish them with sophisticated appliances and fine materials. We approach every opportunity with passion and innovation, and make the aspirations of our clients a reality.” And when not overseeing her busy studio, Rideau can be found in Santa Ynez, where she and partner Andrés Ibarra create Rhone-style wines and grow Spanish varietals under the Tierra y Vino label. To that we say cin cin!

How would you describe your aesthetic? I stay current with my designs, however I tend to take a more timeless approach to the overall aesthetic, using only a hint of the current through accessories, paint colors, lighting fixtures and hardware, which I see as jewelry. And I like to celebrate the appliances by using custom colors or designing a custom hood. My designs will always put function first, then beauty, in the most simple of ways. I strive create an atmosphere that is unique to each of my clients’ kitchens.

How did you get started in the business? My formal education is in interior design and architecture. When completing my degree in architecture, I looked though magazines for my final project and fell in love with the beautiful kitchens I saw. It was in that moment I knew I wanted to be a kitchen designer. The day I graduated, I began looking for jobs. The combination of my creativity in design and my technical background in architecture creates a great balance and enables me to be a successful kitchen designer, especially with the complexity of all of the appliances out there today. As kitchen and bath designers, we really need to have an understanding of the technicality that goes along with a successful design and installation.

From where, or from what sources, do you derive creative inspiration? I am a design book junkie! I read all the latest design books and subscribe to all the latest magazines. In my free time, my favorite things are cooking, entertaining at home, and going to the spa—the perfect combination for designing the ultimate kitchens and baths!

If you could reside on a Hollywood film set from any era, what would it be, and why? "Under the Tuscan Sun”—the era doesn’t matter because it is timeless! I love the idea of bringing an old house back to life, through the integrity of its original design, blended with a hint of current trends, a lot of love and entertaining, and of course the wine. That movie encompasses my passions in design and in life. I’m also a bit of a romantic.

What takes a kitchen or bath from ordinary to extraordinary? Hands down, the attention to detail! You can use the most beautiful materials, but if the installation is not thought-out, the design might suffer. You can use simple materials if the installation and detail is considered, and it will look like a million bucks! That is one area of my design practice that shines—we understand design and installation, and have a very strong technical background.