Text: Margaret Zainey Roux
Photography: Jean Allsopp
Styling: Mary Beth Jones

“Welcome home.” Those were Brian Hart Hoffman’s exact words the moment he stepped into his Highland Park condo for the very first time in 2016.

“The sweeping views of the downtown skyline drew us in, and instinctively we knew that this is where we belong,” Hart Hoffman says of the 2,500-square-foot penthouse that he shares with husband Stephen. “Even though the unit had been renovated just a few years earlier, we wanted to make it our own, but we chose not to jump into a renovation right away. It was important to us to enjoy the process, think through our decisions thoughtfully, and let time guide us to where we really wanted to go with the new design.”

Brian Hart Hoffman’s Dream Baker’s Kitchen

Brian Hart Hoffman’s Dream Baker’s Kitchen

Brian Hart Hoffman’s Dream Baker’s Kitchen

Brian Hart Hoffman’s Dream Baker’s Kitchen

Brian Hart Hoffman’s Dream Baker’s Kitchen

After five years and countless brainstorming sessions, the couple concurred that the condo’s 1990s open-concept footprint was not the right fit for their style and lifestyle. While the fluid, airy sensibility appealed to them, they wanted more defined spaces and zones customized for how they live and entertain.

As the founder and editor-in-chief of Bake from Scratch magazine, the kitchen truly needed to be the heart of the home, so priority was placed on creating a space as attractive as it is well-equipped. Birmingham-based kitchen designer Cyndy Cantley used a mix of handsome closed cabinetry that conceals unsightly necessities with open shelving that showcases the homeowner’s collection of antique French copper bowls, baking pans, and cookware scored in the marché aux puces of Paris. But there is more to the kitchen than just its pretty appointments.

“From a functional perspective, the kitchen was planned through the eyes of a baker rather than a chef,” he explains. “We need surface space and a lot of it. I have been baking in a cook’s kitchen for too many years, and this renovation finally gave me the chance to turn my baker’s wish list into a reality.”

Rather than housing a sink or a cooktop, the island is simply topped with a large marble slab, perfect for rolling and assembling recipes. Hidden outlets on both sides keep gadgets charged and close at hand. A separate island provides a place for guests to gather near the action without getting in the way of the cook. While many a meal have been served and enjoyed there, the couple also wanted a more traditional dining option in a designated space for dinner parties.

Interior designer Barri Thompson guided them to a round tulip-style table that maximizes conversation among all guests, not just those on either side. And because no meal there is complete without dessert, she steered them toward deep, overscale armchairs that keep guests lounging and lingering around the table long after the plates are cleared.

“Comfort and style have equal weight here,” Hart Hoffman says. “We loved how the design, placement, and color palette of the fixtures and furniture in the kitchen and dining areas coordinate with those in the living areas. The spaces feel distinct, but the transition between them feels seamless. Our goal was always to create a setting where good food and good times could be shared with our family and friends, and the new design embraces all of this with sweet sophistication and ease.”

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