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Entertaining by Design: Signature Elements for St Charles

Well-designed solutions make entertaining a beautiful breeze


Entertaining by Design: Signature Elements for St Charles

Autour provides space for staging, serving and storage.

Photo courtesy of St Charles

For more than 30 years, Karen Williams, principal of the multi-disciplinary design studio St Charles, has been creating custom designs to satisfy her clients’ discerning lifestyles. A culinary and entertaining tastemaker, Williams has now applied her decades of decadent experience to the Signature Elements Collection for St Charles, a line that is inspired by the past but has the future of entertaining in mind.

Designing Solutions

Williams said she began the collection “to create pieces that bridge the kitchen to other rooms in the home. I’m very hands-on at project sites, which gives me an understanding of what pieces work and what pieces don’t work in certain areas.”

Three pieces begin the collection and were designed to complement the existing St Charles cabinetry. These pieces make the most of their space with hidden drawers, extra storage and physical shapes that are easy to move around and incorporate into a home. The idea is to reduce clutter, inspire easy organization and look great doing it.

“Each of the new items in the the line is unique and multipurpose,” Williams said, noting such qualities are “a necessity in our space conscious, fast-paced world.”

Style Specifics

Each piece solves issues Williams has encountered repeatedly in her own career. For example, Autour addresses the issue of counter space in a way that may surprise some. Williams disagrees with the standard recommendations for more and more counter space and believes excess counter space only serves to create clutter. She believes instead that different stations offer optimum organization.

As such, Autour was designed for one of Williams kitchen projects in Florida. The rounded piece of furniture serves as a staging, serving and storage area. It incorporates open shelving, a knife block and drawer and is one big solution for any kitchen in need of de-cluttering.

Likewise, the subtly curved credenza in the line -- Aldyn -- was designed for the St Charles room at the 2012 Kips Bay Show House. It was created to bridge the gap between kitchen and dining areas but also manages to add ample storage space without being obtrusive.

And Empire, with its dramatic vertical presentation was created with the Art Deco style of iconic U.S. skyscrapers in mind. The armoire is a blend of past and future with LEDs to illuminate each shelf, space to house wine bottles and the glasses to accompany them, and classic styling to suit a variety of interiors.

Custom Design

Though standard woods and fixtures do exist, each of the three pieces that are kicking off the line can be custom fabricated using desired woods, paint colors and stains to meet individual design preferences and home styles.

Standard style for Aldyn includes a body crafted from figured walnut paired with a rich antique stain. Brushed stainless steel and satin nickel accents modernize the design. Empire is composed of espresso-stained walnut with satin nickel hardware.

More About St Charles

St Charles specializes in kitchen design and interior architecture as well as upscale cabinetry and signature furnishings. The Made in the USA line launched in St Charles, Ill., in 1935. Today, its headquarters in Manhattan’s A&D Building doubles as its New York showroom.

Principals Karen Williams and Robert Schwartz acquired the exclusive design and manufacturing rights from the Viking Range Corporation. St Charles products can be found in legendary homes across the country, including Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.

Williams is also the voice behind the St Charles blog where she shares tips on decorating, entertaining and more.

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