An Island Unto Itself

Denver restaurateur Beth Gruitch redesigned the kitchen of her Sunnyside bungalow around a massive island that is ideal for entertaining.

beth-gruitch-island

Photo by Rebecca Grant

Beth Gruitch and David Wright know their way around a kitchen. Gruitch is chef Jen Jasinski’s business partner in Denver faves Rioja, Bistro Vendôme, Stoic and Genuine, Euclid Hall and Ultreia. And Gruitch and Wright met at Euclid Hall, where Wright gained fame as the restaurant’s butcher.

But Gruitch and Wright like to entertain at home, too. “We love to cook, hang out and drink some wine,” Gruitch says. That was a serious challenge in their former Lilliputian space. “If we had a party, David would be in the kitchen with about 2 ½ feet of counter space and I’d be in the mudroom trying to prep.”

For the new space, they joked they wanted a 17-foot island—and they got it. “It’s massive and awesome,” Gruitch says. And it provides a perfect fulcrum around which their frequent guests can circulate. “I love the openness of the space. If we had 40 people over, everyone would be part of the conversation. We can be preparing food and still be entertaining.”

The island, which seats eight very comfortably, is the centerpiece of the kitchen, topped with thick quartzite, a very hard natural stone whose gray, white and blood orange veining is lit from below by custom Japanese LED lights. “We love orange,” Gruitch says, “and as soon as David and I looked at this piece, we said, ‘This is it.’ ” It took 11 men—and a lot of strategic planning—to haul in each 1,000-pound half of the island. The kitchen was designed by Terri Barnes of TB Image by Design. It was part of a larger renovation of the 1908 two-story Sunnyside bungalow, built by Klimko Homes, that included blowing out the back of the house and creating a new master suite upstairs.

Gruitch and Wright included a glass-fronted Sub-Zero wine refrigerator, a 48-inch Wolf stove with four burners and a flattop in the island (which Gruitch says “does not mess around”), a Wolf countertop convection oven and a built-in Wolf microwave. On one end of the island is a built-in bookshelf holding dozens of cookbooks. On the other end is space leading out through an accordion-style glass wall to a large pergola and deck for warmer-weather entertaining.

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