Category Archives: Design Element

Add Some Independence Day Style to Your Kitchen

Traditional Holiday Decorations by Other Metro Furniture and Accessories Pottery Barn

Today is the Fourth of July, my all-time favorite holiday, so this is the perfect opportunity to talk about adding a little bit of Independence Day style to your kitchen.  Since red, white and blue together make quite a bold statement, it’s no secret to share that clearly a little goes a long way.  While these kitchens are by no means Fourth of July themed, I was inspired to find examples of kitchens that embraced any one or more of these significant colors.

souciehorner

This Lake Michigan kitchen designed by Martin Horner uses the color blue as a design element so perfectly.  When combined with perimeter cabinets painted white and a dark stained island, the use of this color in select materials adds blue in a way that isn’t overwhelming.

windsorsmith

This Windsor Smith kitchen and adjacent dining area takes a bold shade of red and employs it throughout in a series of accents.  By introducing pops of red through the chinoiserie-style chairs, lantern and pendant light fixture, tremendous interest is added to the space.  The tension that is created by the contrast between the white cabinets, dark stained floors and bright red accents is so appealing.  Notice that just these few elements of bold color are all that is needed to add a little drama to an already beautiful space.

The next time you want to add a little bit of color to liven-up a quiet space, you might consider taking some inspiration from the flag by adding a touch of red or blue.  What a great statement that would make!

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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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An Unexpected Bathtub

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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

milesreddgreenkitchen

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

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. 

 whittakertile

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!

 South-Beach

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!

 tommysmythe

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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Is the Kitchen Work Triangle Antiquated?

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In design school, much attention was placed on the almighty work triangle as the foundation of good kitchen design.  Professors taught us the importance of ergonomics in kitchen design:  that efficiency of movement should dictate the distance traveled in the kitchen.   The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) set guidelines for the formation of the triangle stating that the distances between the three primary work centers (sink, stove and fridge) should total no more than 26′ with no single leg of the triangle measuring less than 4′ nor more than 9′.  And so, for many years, kitchen design revolved around this standard.

So why do I continue to hear that the triangle has become antiquated?  Well, consider how kitchens have evolved from  the utilitarian spaces they used to be to the living spaces that they are today.  In the past, the kitchen was typically a closed-off space where meals were prepared and then likely served in an adjacent dining room.  Today, we know the kitchen to be the central hub of family activity — it’s the quintessential multi-purpose room.  And often times today’s kitchen has multiple cooks and its overall space at any given time could have multiple users.  In our kitchens today we not only prepare meals but we also serve drinks, pay bills, oversee homework, watch TV, have meetings, enjoy meals, entertain, etc.  There is no limit to what this space can do!  In order to accommodate the growing demands of its users, kitchen design principles have evolved from a strict adherence to the triangle to a more flexible focus on work zones.  Think about it: how many kitchens have you seen with two sinks, an extra fridge, a large island, a separate bar or a desk?  Depending on the needs of the end-users, the number of potential work zones and the configuration of those zones could vary dramatically.

Today’s kitchens often dedicate a large area for cooking and make it the focal point of the room…

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Today’s kitchens have separate zones for the bar and sometimes even a dedicated coffee station…

Today’s kitchens often have two sinks…

Today’s kitchens often have space allocated for a desk…
With work zones being the foundation of today’s kitchen design, should we do away with the work triangle as a driver of kitchen layouts? Not completely, in my opinion.  I still think that we can consider the triangle and the NKBA standard definition of optimal traveled distances between work stations when we begin to design a kitchen.  Depending on the space constraints, the triangle can certainly be a jumping off point and something to be mindful of when planning the layout of the space.  Careful placement of the various work zones; however, will likely be the main driver of final decisions, as accommodating multiple cooks and occupants of the space will have a direct impact on the overall design and layout.  Let’s face it, times are changing, so it stands to reason that the way we approach kitchen design should reflect and embrace that change…while not losing sight of how we got here.
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Ikea Cabinets: Big Design Impact, Reasonable Price

Last spring, while thumbing through both the US and UK editions of House Beautiful, I was shocked to see that both issues featured kitchens designed with Ikea cabinets.  Yes, House Beautiful…Yes, Ikea.  Further research uncovered the fact that many homeowners, when faced with the often-daunting task of budgeting for a kitchen reno, continue to turn to this well-known big box store to keep costs down.  What these kitchens, and countless others, prove is that you don’t have to sacrifice style when you’re watching your pennies.  Take this kitchen, above, designed by Mary Jo Bochner – it’s the quintessential example of combining high and low to create an impact.  Mary Jo’s jumping-off point was a pair of vintage étagères that she bought in Charleston.  Both the beautiful window over the sink and the previously owned high-end appliances from Wolf and Traulsen were purchased online from eBay and Craigslist.  Cabinets and butcherblock countertops by the range, both purchased at Ikea, combine seamlessly with this high-end kitchen design.  The money that Mary Jo saved allowed her to splurge on items such the Belgian bluestone countertop under the window, the incredible Tim Adams chandelier from Savannah’s Paris Market, and the seamless Cararra marble sink.    Mary Jo Bochner has demonstrated beautifully in this kitchen that it literally pays to save money on some design elements so that you can splurge on higher-end materials that will ultimately make a statement in the space.

 

The kitchen above, by Leone Design Studio in Brooklyn, shows a completely different design aesthetic using Ikea cabinets.  The open shelves, which are used as a room divider, create a clear delineation of space while still allowing the sunlight to stream through to the kitchen.  Add to that the use of an industrial table on casters as an island, coupled with the high gloss cabinets from Ikea, and you have a sleek, contemporary kitchen fit for a fabulous apartment in the city.

Adler

While there are countless examples of kitchens from which to choose, the kitchen above shows just how you can use stock cabinets from Ikea combined with carefully selected design elements to create a fabulous space. The use of clean-lined cabinets, coupled with high-end Viking appliances, Cararra marble materials and pops of bright color from accessories and fabrics, results in a beautiful space.  Jonathan Adler designed this kitchen for maternity clothing designer, Liz Lange, so it’s no surprise that when two creative minds come together big things happen.

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Recipe for Success: A Bathroom That Has It All

Showcase2012

 

There are so many ways to make a bathroom fun and interesting.  This bathroom, which was designed for the 2012 San Francisco Decorator Showcase by Tineke Triggs, exemplifies some of the many creative ways to design a unique bathroom.  Even if you have a space that is completely lacking in character and architectural details, you can easily create visual interest by jazzing up some of the basic elements of the space:

  • Pick a statement wallpaper or follow the lead of the bathroom above by stencilling the walls with a favorite pattern
  • Install a fabulous vanity with great hardware, such as the custom-made vanity above
  • If you don’t love the hardware on your vanity, change it up and use something really special
  • Select terrific light fixtures, both on the wall and on the ceiling (if your space permits)
  • Place a statement mirror over the vanity
  • Carefully select a faucet that represents the overall look that you’re trying to achieve
  • Create visual interest by installing a beautiful, patterned tile on the floor
  • Select a great countertop material such as the natural stone top in the bathroom above, which coordinates perfectly with the stone on the floor
  • If your space is lacking in architectural detail, then by all means add it!  Think about installing interesting woodwork such as raised-panel wainscoting, picture molding, crown and baseboard molding or a chair rail.

If you have a bathroom that just doesn’t seem very special, then consider adding some interest by employing some of the ideas above.  You’ll be surprised when you see the impact that some carefully selected design elements can achieve!

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Design Elements: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Have you ever considered using mirrors in your kitchen?  While adding a mirror to a space to achieve a particular effect is certainly not a new trend in design, it’s one that is often overlooked as a tool in kitchen design.  Adding a mirrored backsplash to your kitchen is a great way to reflect light (or possibly a terrific view), as in this kitchen designed by Fairfield County architects Brooks & Falotico.   Not only does the mirror reflect the light, but it also adds a slightly contemporary flair to the space, and the coolness of the material compliments the warmth of the beautiful wood island.

In this elegant bar, tucked away in a family room designed by Sutro Architects (and photographed by Aaron Leitz Photography), the mirrored backsplash gives the illusion that this small interior space is much larger than it truly is.  If I had a bar like this, I think I would leave the door open, too!

This mirrored kitchen island, photographed by Pia Ulin, certainly makes a design statement!  The tension that is created when the sleek, modern cabinets and mirrored finish on the island are juxtaposed with the more traditional architectural features as seen in the windows and doors and the herringbone floor, makes this kitchen so interesting!

So, whether you choose to make a big impact, such as the one made by this mirrored island, or a small statement with a framed mirror hanging on the wall, why not try to add a mirror to your kitchen to see how it changes the space?

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