Monthly Archives: June 2013

How Do I Love Thee…A Kitchen That Has It All

lymankitchenThis post should really be titled “how to add character and warmth to your white kitchen,” but really that title would be kind of boring.  What truly grabs my attention about this kitchen which was featured in the June 2012 issue of House Beautiful Magazine is how designer Samantha Lyman used numerous elements to make this space truly unique and incredibly inviting.

How do I love thee…let me count the ways!

  • Dark stained oak floors in contrast to the white upper cabinets make a dramatic statement
  • Antique French armoire custom fit to nestle in-between the modern, shaker style cabinets adds character
  • La Cornue range in stainless steel is both traditional and industrial at the same time (a statement piece in itself)
  • Walnut island countertop stained dark brown adds a richness and a warmth that complements the cooler marble perimeter countertop
  • Gray painted island is a nice contrast to the white painted upper cabinets and grounds the island in the space
  • Vintage pendants made of copper and enamel over the island give the kitchen a rich history and add even more character
  • Honed Calacutta marble countertop is a classic material that develops a beautiful patina over time
  • Starfire glass backsplash back-painted white gives a clean, contemporary look and reflects light in the space

Samantha Lyman has created a stunning kitchen that is functional, beautiful, interesting, and unique all at once.  The overall look that she has achieved demonstrates that by adding interesting elements to a kitchen with clean white cabinets, you can create a space that is both warm in its overall feel and ultimately full of character.  And wouldn’t you want every space in your home to feel that way?  I would!

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I Think I Might Become a Minimalist


I think I might become a minimalist.  I grew-up in a home with a mother who couldn’t part with anything meaningful, and a father who wanted to remove anything unnecessary that simply wasn’t nailed down.  I fall somewhere in between.  I now have a house of my own where I live with my husband and four sons — not one of whom is a minimalist.  In fact, it seems as though they are all collectors of sorts, but do they hold onto things for sentimental reasons, or are they simply too lazy to purge the things they no longer use?

This week my house is particularly disorganized and I am trying desperately to restore some order.  I have one son who just came home from school and dumped the entire contents of his dorm room on the floor of the front hall — too heavy a load to carry up to his bedroom?  I just don’t know.  At the same time, my youngest son is about to leave for a month of camp, so his belongings are in piles all over his room getting ready to be packed and shipped.  My usual staging area for these things is the guest room, but it’s simply too small to store both boys’ belongings at the same time in an organized fashion.

So, while scanning the pages of Adore Home Magazine online, I came across this beautiful kitchen with its sleek marble countertops and backsplash, white cabinets and chrome and stainless accents.  This clean, utterly grown-up space makes me want to be a minimalist!  There’s just something about this kitchen that makes me want to hire a dumpster and start weeding out all of the unnecessary things that have been gathered during the fifteen years that we’ve lived here.  Perhaps if I tape this photo to my fridge it will motivate me by acting as a constant reminder to clean out so that I can restore some order to this chaos.


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An Unexpected Bathtub



I’ve had bathrooms on my mind lately, and coincidentally came across this photo that gave me some much-needed inspiration.  I took this picture at the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse in New York simply because it was so utterly unexpected.  Stepping out onto the terrace of a Manhattan townhouse only to find a beautiful, sculptural free-standing bathtub in a zen-like setting took me completely by surprise.  Daring design such as this by West Chin Architect clearly makes a statement.  I’m quite certain that the experience of taking a hot bath outside on a starry night in the fresh air would be a similar experience to a summer outdoor shower.  And if you are a regular reader of this blog you know how I feel about outdoor showers!

Now, let’s not quibble about the fact that this lovely, serene setting offers zero privacy.  With summer fast-approaching, I’m personally concerned about the prospect of putting on a bathing suit at the beach, so you can imagine how I might feel about soaking in a tub in my birthday suit on my not-so-very-private rooftop garden!  So, let’s suspend reality for a moment and imagine how delightful it truly would be (with the proper privacy screen, of course) to soak in that beautiful bathtub outside in the fresh air!  If you’ve heard me say it once, then you’ve certainly heard me say it twice…good, functional design can (and should) be beautiful.  Sometimes it takes an unexpected design such as this to remind us to be creative with our own spaces.  Instead of viewing your bathtub as a utilitarian fixture in your bathroom, why not consider it as a piece of sculpture that is an integral part of the overall design?  After all, while bathrooms certainly serve a purpose, they can absolutely be beautiful at the same time!

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Take a Risk: Make a Bold Statement with Color


Would you consider making a bold statement with color in your kitchen?  Just how far would you go?  Few might be brave enough, or confident enough in their decision, to commit to a color-drenched kitchen such as this kelly green lacquered beauty by Miles Redd.  Some people are naturally adventurous with colors, while others are perfectly happy staying with a quieter, more neutral palette.  Do you fall into one of these two categories, or somewhere in-between?

Let’s face it:  it’s a lot easier (and certainly more cost-effective) to change an entire room by adding color to your décor with a can of paint, or a fresh batch of fabulous pillows.  Worst-case scenario: if it doesn’t work, you can re-paint or re-cover, but it won’t break the bank.  Taking a decorating risk in the kitchen, however, can be a bigger commitment and one that isn’t as easy (or inexpensive) to change.  So, how do you add color to your kitchen in a way that challenges your comfort zone a bit without sending you into a panic?


Tory Burch added a pop of color to her white kitchen with this high gloss green floor and painted cabinet interiors.   Wow, what a statement!

La Cornue ranges come in a rainbow of fantastic colors.  This kitchen designed by St. Charles was featured in the 2012 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse and certainly made a bold statement.  These custom, hand-made-to-order ranges and coordinating cabinetry are most-certainly an investment, so pick your favorite color and make your own statement. 


Tile is a great place to add a big splash of color.  This beautiful bar designed by Ashley Whittaker uses stunning blue Aladdin tile from Waterworks.  How unexpected and beautiful at the same time!


In a twist to adding a splash of color with a can of paint, House Beautiful featured a white glass-front kitchen cabinet with the interior painted in Benjamin Moore’s South Beach.  What a great way to add color while showcasing your dishes!


And if you’re not quite sure that you want to commit to something bold, how about adding some color in the form of a fun light fixture?   The custom-painted antique red lantern in this kitchen designed by Canadian Tommy Smythe is the perfect accent in this Victorian home.

Whether you just dip your toe in, or jump in feet first, why not add a splash of color to your kitchen design?  Chances are your colorful design element will make a statement and at the same time appear a little bit unexpected.

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Sign of Summer: Outdoor Kitchen

source: Kris Horiuchi of Kalamazoo Gourmet 

Since it’s 97 degrees in New Jersey and hazy, hot and humid on this first day of June, I thought the best type of kitchen to write about would be the divine outdoor kitchen.  With Memorial Day behind us and Labor Day approaching more quickly than we would like to admit, many cooks turn to the outdoors to prepare meals so they can escape the hot kitchen.  Sidenote:  If you live in New Jersey and are fortunate enough to have an outdoor kitchen, you might not have any interest in using it for the next several weeks since the invasion of the cicadas has completely taken over!  Noisy, smelly, tree-hugging bugs aside, grilling and eating outdoors rank right up there with showering outdoors as some of my favorite summer-time activities.
Nine years ago, my cousin got married in Napa Valley in a wedding filled with superlatives.   The bride was absolutely beautiful.  The location of the wedding…breathtaking.  The food & wine…amazing.   And before the wedding we were entertained by the groom’s family in their lovely home, which had the most incredible outdoor kitchen and adjacent living space that I have ever seen.  The bar for such kitchens is now incredibly high in my mind, considering I still remember it vividly when often times I’m so scattered I can hardly remember my own name!
So, if you’re planning to build an outdoor kitchen, here are some things to consider:
  • If your budget allows, think about adding some plumbing for a sink…you won’t regret it 
  • Select rust-resistant hardware meant for outdoor use
  • If you’re in a sunny spot, consider adding a partial roof, pergola or some type of umbrella for shade
  • Plan your exterior lighting accordingly so that you can transition from day to night and still see what you’re doing
  • Select durable, hard-wearing and weather-resistant materials for both the countertop and flooring
  • A small bar fridge will certainly come in handy and limit trips in and out of the house
  • Plan a place for everything…cooking utensils, garbage, recycling, etc. — you’ll be happy you did!


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