Michelle Nussbaumer’s House Beautiful 2019 Kitchen(s) of the Year

Michelle Nussbaumer’s House Beautiful 2019 Kitchen(s) of the Year are truly a sight to behold! 

A secret speakeasy? A pink porcelain pantry? A hotel-level wine bar? Yes. Every culinary corner of this design visionary’s Dallas home is a total trip. Better buckle up.

Taken too literally, kitchens can be spartan, as functional as garages—and just as eye-catching. Not so in the homes of itinerant designer Michelle Nussbaumer. “I’ve held the line in maximalism for the last 30 years,” says the dynamo behind Ceylon et Cie, the 11,000-square-foot Dallas showroom.

Nussbaumer stuck to a mantra—“Do things that are not trendy, things you actually respond to”—while outfit­ting the newly converted warehouse home she and her husband, Bernard, own in Dallas. She installed what amounts to four kitchens: The main one (with a walk-in porcelain pantry) and a speakeasy occupy the first floor, while upstairs is a full art kitchen and a cocktail bar for entertaining.

Inside Nussbaumer’s 18,000-square-foot warehouse home lies a maze of kitchens, terraces, and studio space.

When not in Dallas, the couple frequently retreat to their 16th-century hacienda in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. So in the main kitchen, a Mayan mural ties together the room’s blush pinks and bold blues. “I like to incorporate whatever makes me happy in my own kitchen,” says Nussbaumer. Innovative Thermador appliances (a brand she’s used for decades) and Hudson Valley Lighting fixtures, both available through Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, make the space exceedingly functional. “I love that you don’t see most of the appliances—they’re all behind lacquered doors,” she explains. “There’s something glam about it.”

In her art studio, Nussbaumer created an ode to the cook spaces of Paris: “It’s this little tiny thing, but everything you need is in it,” she says, pointing to covert fridge drawers. The walls, Ikea cabinets, and even the range hood are wrapped in a custom vinyl printed with Nussbaumer’s own ikat pattern.

The theatricality of it all should come as no surprise: Nussbaumer studied set design in college. “For me, it’s fun to have fantasy moments. A lot of designers started in theater—Renzo Mongiardino, Tony Duquette—and this is theater for life. It’s really nothing different.”

The Main Kitchen

“There’s an Art Deco vibe throughout the whole house,” says Nussbaumer, “but I still wanted it to feel like a warehouse.” Unpolished concrete walls and exposed steel beams are juxtaposed with glossy surfaces, bold color, and antiques.

Created using all Benjamin Moore paints, artist Francisco Moreno’s Mayan-inspired mural provides an energetic foil for a Hudson Valley Lighting chandelier. “It’s really overscale, but it works with everything happening here,” Nussbaumer says. Sinks and faucets: Elkay. Dishwashers (with panel fronts, on either side of the sink): Thermador.


The Speakeasy

“The whole room has a sexy, smoky vibe,” says Nussbaumer. Literally: “You can have a cigar here if you like to smoke.”

A built-in Thermador coffee maker knows Nussbaumer’s go-to drink order, while a water dispenser (and sink and faucet) from Elkay ups her daily intake. Pendant: Corbett Lighting. Counter-top: Burlington Marble & Granite. Cabinet paint: Benjamin Moore. Glassware: Neiman Marcus. Speed oven: Thermador.


The Pantries

Chinese tea canisters and glass jars are used for storage in the food pantry. Two doors down, a porcelain pantry mirrors its layout—but is stocked with slightly fancier loot.

This design was inspired by Denmark’s Rosenborg Castle. “I like to use my grandmother’s dinner plates mixed with salad plates from Target,” Nussbaumer says. “It makes it all feel so new and fun.” Countertop:Bergen Dekton by Cosentino. Wallpaper: Mitchell Black.

The Art Kitchen

Nussbaumer’s own ikat print—paired with Thibaut on the ceiling—exemplifies the designer’s trademark pattern play. When she cooks for her husband here, she says, “it feels like we’re young and in a faraway place again.”

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