The True Meaning of Custom Design


Scott Rivers knows the true meaning of the word custom. He helped design the beautiful kitchen pictured on the cover of this issue for a home in Durango, Colo. This kitchen includes an element that exemplifies Rivers’ grasp of custom design.

Several weeks ago, at the time we were deciding which photo to choose as the cover shot, I asked a few of my colleagues for their opinions. When looking at the photo on this cover they all had the same initial reaction. Separately, all of them made the same comment to me; “Is it me or is that island too narrow?” Or, they asked me, “Did the photographer use one of those lenses that squishes the image?”

All of these observations, mine included, were based on the custom nature of the island. Yes, the island and table are narrow. This is by design, with the intention of meeting the needs of the homeowners who wanted an island despite a relatively small kitchen footprint. Rivers, who works for Robert Hidey Architects in Irvine, Calif., listened to his clients’ needs and provided them with what they wanted: an island. And this is why;

“Yes, the island is narrow, but it allows the overall footprint of the kitchen to be smaller but still deliver the functionality an island provides. The family is getting more value for the floor area, and is not compromising on functionality,” Rivers says.

Is that beautiful or what? Perfectly stated.

The reason some might think the island is too narrow, or the table is too small, is by comparing them to larger versions they’ve seen in hundreds if not thousands of homes. Just because this island doesn’t fit the mold of others they’ve seen doesn’t mean this island is wrong, or too small. It’s just different, and, most importantly, it provides the homeowners with a custom-designed solution to a problem of limited square footage.

The counter space in the far corner to the right of the oven and to the left of the refrigerator is another example of maximizing available space for the clients. When dealing with limited work space due to a small kitchen footprint, Rivers and his team delivered desired functionality as well as beauty and charm.

These are small examples of tailoring home design to the needs of the clients, but they’re strong examples, I believe. Rivers’ client-focused approach to design creates a healthy balance between his expertise and homeowners’ desires, and avoids the evils of forcing his architectural tastes and preferences into his clients’ living space.

Nice work, Scott.

See more kitchens from Scott and Robert Hidey Architects.

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