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GREAT ROOMS

Passing the Test

February 23, 1986|VIRGINIA GRAY | Virginia Gray is an associate editor of Los Angeles Times Magazine.

When Marilyn and Harry Lewis, owners of Hamburger Hamlet restaurants, purchased their Beverly Hills home in 1960, they remodeled the kitchen. Twenty-five years later, as plans for their newest restaurant--Hamlet Gardens in Westwood--were being completed, they discovered that they needed a test kitchen in which to develop recipes. The couple decided to again remodel their own kitchen and temporarily use it for that purpose.

Working with Jon Richards, an industrial-kitchen planner employed by their company, the Lewises combined the existing kitchen, service porch and breakfast area into a single large, functional room. One of their first additions was a 10-by-10-foot island that can accommodate several chefs at once. All countertops were replaced with white Corian because "I wanted an all-white kitchen," Marilyn says. "But I also wanted a certain amount of warmth, so we chose the reflective copper ceiling." A fireplace with an Adams-style mantle was added and a Hepplewhite sofa placed nearby. The Italian table, chairs and bar stools provide contemporary counterpoints for the traditional sofa and mantle.

"We both like to cook," Marilyn says. "Harry is a great short-order cook. He's always been good at making burgers, breakfast and late-night snacks. I'm a self-taught, more adventurous cook. There was a time years ago when I made things in my kitchen that were then taken to the restaurants. Dishes like lobster bisque and baked apples came from here."

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