The Dixie Design District? New kitchen showroom livens up WPB

8:04 a.m. Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 Business
A kitchen on display inside of the Leicht showroom opening in December on South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach on November 14, 2017. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

The cabinets slide, lift and sparkle with lights. Dishwashers open with a tap of the fist. Vent hoods rise up from a flat surface, then disappear into the finish.

Oh, Palm Beach County, this is not your mother’s kitchen.

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Instead, it’s one of 12 sleek kitchen designs at Global Kitchen Design, a firm that could have landed anywhere in South Florida but found its way to a once-sleepy stretch of South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. The kitchen showroom, at 2218 S. Dixie Highway, is set to open Dec. 4.

Global Kitchen is owned by Andre Ruebner and his wife, Neoly Lika Williams.

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During the past seven months, they have transformed 4,800 square feet of the former Morse Geriatric Center’s Nearly New Thrift Shop into a wonderland of contemporary kitchen design that complements the interior design firms and other home-design businesses clustered in the area.

All kitchen configurations of cabinets and counter-tops are by Leicht, the German kitchen firm in business for more than 80 years. Appliances are by Miele.

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And the passion? It’s all Ruebner and Williams.

They met a few years ago when Ruebner’s precision work on a Leicht kitchen in Williams’ Manhattan apartment resulted not only in a well-appointed space and a happy customer. Ruebner wound up so smitten with Williams he bombarded her office with dozens of roses. Daily.

“I got a kitchen and a husband,” Williams said.

Eager to leave New York for warmer weather, Ruebner considered bustling Miami but zeroed in on the more tranquil Palm Beach County area to start his own Leicht dealership.

Meanwhile, real estate investor Jonathan Gladstone was weighing how best to lease the thrift shop he purchased a year ago.

The two got together and the rest is interior design history, with Ruebner painstakingly assembling all of the model kitchens himself: “I know every square inch of this building,” he said.

Gladstone believes Global Kitchen will further cement the Dixie Highway corridor south of Okeechobee Boulevard as a hip, artsy district that’s attracting new restaurants, design firms and art galleries.

Global Kitchen’s location is convenient for Palm Beach County customers, Ruebner said, near Palm Beach or any resident in the county who wants to step away from heavy, traditional clutter and explore the European style of kitchen design.

Leicht is big on functionality, ergonomics and “green” construction. But form is vital, too, with clean lines and seamless finishes as important as the ease with which a drawer closes.

Consequently, it’s no surprise Ruebner said he cringes when he watches cable television shows where home buyers extol stainless steel dishwashers or refrigerators.

In his view, such necessities should be used but not seen, tucked away behind doors and cabinets so the kitchen remains a pleasant spot to gather.

“Everybody loves to entertain,” Ruebner said. “The kitchen should not be a work place. It should be a family gathering place, the most important place in the house.”

As a result, the showroom features kitchens where refrigerator and appliances are hidden behind doors ranging from lacquer to laminate. The drawers have LED lighting on the inside so the spaces are both magical and practical. The counters — concrete, laminate, glass, sandblasted — can be customized with color and height for every preference.

Everything has a place. Everything is put away. Everything is organized.

The business seems to fit its owners’ styles: “The Container Store is like a playground for her,” Ruebner said of Williams.

Prices are as varied as the customization offered for countertops, cabinets and extras. A base kitchen can start at around $25,000 but a $200,000 kitchen is doable, too, especially if Miele appliances are involved. Ruebner suggests they should be. “I love quality,” he said. “They’re not cheap but they last.”

Designers and homeowners venturing to this stretch of South Dixie Highway will find plenty of other ways to upgrade the house.

At 820 S. Dixie Highway is New York-based Blackman Plumbing Supply, an upscale plumbing supplier that opened its first Florida location here last year. The 9,000-square-foot showroom also features lighting, tile, stone and outdoor living products.

Nearby is McCann Design Group, at 1600 S. Dixie Highway; and a sister company, Hive Home Gift & Garden, at 424 Palm St., across the street on the west side of Dixie.

There’s also Excentricities, home design, furnishings and accents at 1810 S. Dixie Highway. And farther south is The Nest, 3416 S. Dixie Highway, which sells Palm Beachy gifts, home decor items, colorful lighting and furniture.

Ruebner hopes Global Kitchen itself will be a gathering spot, with regular cooking demonstrations planned using Miele appliances and the showroom’s inviting kitchen settings.

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