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  • Writer's pictureChef Mark Kalix

ISLAND MAJESTY: Contemporary Refinement with a Dash of Whimsy

Updated: 6 days ago

Modern kitchen with waterfall granite Island countertops

Chef Mark Kalix teaching his cooking class

As the resident Chef at Appliance Factory Fine Lines, I have the pleasure of cooking in many of the kitchens featured in this magazine.

When customers at Fine Lines purchase a qualifying appliance package, I join them in the form of a hands-on cooking class and dinner party for 10 guests after their kitchen is installed. This provides an opportunity to address any questions the homeowner may have and celebrate the completion of their project with a fun party. Since the kitchen is the heart of the home where people always gather, these parties are perfect for everyone, from those who rarely cook to passionate home chefs.


Recently, I had the privilege of visiting the home of Jules Zhao and her family in Boulder, Colorado. They had just completed a full remodel of their home, of which Jules was the designer. I was impressed by the thoughtful touches throughout, especially in their kitchen. They took the interior of the house down to the studs, replacing drywall and mechanical systems along the way. This approach gave the house a brand-new, modern feel that simply painting and redoing the floors couldn’t achieve. The exterior of the house maintains a classic

design that blends perfectly with its foothill surroundings.



Some standout features of this fully Thermador outfitted kitchen include a striking island vent hood that hovers above an induction cooktop, paired with a built-in steam oven directly underneath. Adjacent to this setup is a large sink and a matching set of Emerald® and Sapphire® dishwashers, creating a well-organized cooking space. The combination of wood and silver-gray granite countertops adds warmth and texture to the room. I particularly appreciate the blend of matching panel-front appliances with bright stainless steel fronts, including a built-in 36" column refrigeration set, which enhances the Zhao kitchen’s aesthetics.


Designed with hosting events in mind, this kitchen is fully equipped to handle any culinary occasion. In addition to the already stellar features previously mentioned, the space boasts a triple-speed double wall oven, perfect for preparing multiple dishes simultaneously. For guests who enjoy a good cup of coffee, a built-in coffee machine stands ready to brew. An under-counter refrigerator and wine refrigerator from Thermador ensure that beverages are chilled and easily accessible during gatherings. These thoughtful additions enhance both the functionality and convenience of the kitchen, making it a true hub for entertaining and everyday living. The seamless integration of high-quality appliances aligns perfectly with the modern aesthetic and practical requirements of the Zhao family’s remodel.


Moreover, this kitchen is designed to accommodate growth and family activities. The kids recently enjoyed a pizza party, their favorite foods are easily accessible from low shelves and under-counter refrigeration. During my visit, the adults and I chopped, diced, and sautéed our way through Spanish tapas, with a few of my signature dishes thrown in for a personalized touch.

As everyone savored dessert (bread pudding) and I tidied up after our evening

of cooking, eating and learning, I noticed one of my favorite custom features: their

Roomba robot vacuum has a built-in cubby. When the vacuum springs into action, she emerges from her cubby ready to keep this wonderful home clean and tidy.


Full view Kitchen with whimsical side tables and dining areas

Additional Insight from Jules Zhao:


Our motivation for the remodel stemmed from a desire to rejuvenate our recently acquired home. While the location was perfect, we felt the interior style needed a fresh, modern update.

As both homeowner and designer, ensuring a shared understanding of quality was essential throughout our remodeling project. We aimed not only to meet functional needs but also to enhance aesthetic appeal.


Key priorities for the remodel included a large island for socializing, ample storage, double dishwashers for efficiency and a seamless indoor-outdoor flow.


Our collaboration with Tharp Cabinets was pivotal in realizing our vision. They custom-designed and installed our cabinetry, complemented by a stunning tile backsplash and wide white oak flooring that enhance the overall aesthetic. Each furnishing was meticulously crafted to match our original rendering. Looking ahead, we eagerly anticipate hosting more gatherings in our newly remodeled space. Since completing the project, we’ve been enjoying monthly dinner parties with family and friends.


Designer: Jules Zhao (DU Studio)

Contractor: Kabili Construction




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