Category Archives: Kitchen

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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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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Inspiration Abounds: Blogfest, Jonathan Adler and Kips Bay


This week I had the great pleasure of attending Blogfest 2013, sponsored by Kravet.  I have so much to report from this fantastic conference, but for now I’ll simply give you a few highlights and later, a few more details.  Our three day tour in New York began with a kick-off party at Jonathan Adler’s fabulous Madison Avenue store.  It was a great opportunity to network with other design bloggers and take in all of the incredible inventory in Adler’s showroom.  I fell in love with every bright color and interesting texture, and between the furniture, light fixtures and textiles I could have spent an awful lot of money on that first night alone!  Mental note: must go back.


I came face-to-face with this fantastic mirror when I walked into the store and knew that I had to have it — although where to hang it in my traditional, Georgian colonial home I did not know!  I entered a drawing for $500 and knew just where I would spend my spoils.  Alas, I did not win, and the wall in my entry hall will continue to be bare (truth be told, orange wasn’t the right color anyway, but it was just such a fun, funky mirror!).  Mental note: for another day.

IMG_1147Our first stop on Day 2 was at the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse on 64th between 3rd and Lex.  I knew immediately that I had arrived at the right address once I saw how beautifully manicured the exterior of the building was!  Who knew that both the exterior and the interior would far exceed my expectations?


To my great delight, we were served breakfast courtesy of Doodle Home in this beautiful kitchen designed by Christopher Peacock.  Apologies for the crummy photos — I have learned that while my old iPhone is great in a pinch, it doesn’t produce the quality photos that these gorgeous rooms deserve.  Use your imagination:  the kitchen was stunning.  What fun to see a departure from the often-copied Peacock white scullery kitchen (a favorite of mine for sure, and of countless others)!  This kitchen was constructed of dark stained quarter-sawn oak cabinets, polished nickel hardware and beautiful caesarstone countertops.  I could have spent the morning there!

Spending three days surrounded by some of the most creative minds in the design industry is incredibly energizing — you can’t help but be inspired.  More details and images from Kips Bay, Blogfest and our private behind-the-scenes tour of Kravet Studios will follow in a post next week.  For now I will continue to be inspired by my fellow friends and bloggers, the beautiful design showrooms I had the pleasure to visit and the exciting pulse of New York City!


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Is the Kitchen Work Triangle Antiquated?



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…


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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Liebster Award: Spreading Some Blog Love Around!



This past weekend I was delighted to learn that Jeanne from the fabulous blog Cozy*Stylish*Chic had nominated me for a Liebster award!  After a quick Google search I learned that the Liebster is an award given by new bloggers to other new bloggers as a way to build community, discover new blogs and hopefully attract new readers.  What a great way to spread a little blog love!  The rules are simple:

If the nominee decides to accept the award, he/she must:

1.  Answer the 11 questions posed
2.  Post 11 facts about themselves
3.  Nominate 5-11 bloggers
4.  Tell them they have been nominated
5.  Create a list of 11 questions for the nominees to answer

11 Questions for Me:

  1. How do you like your toilet paper — over or under?  Definitely under, but I’m not sure why I care!
  2. Why did you start blogging?  My friend, Angela (co-founder of the amazing blog, suggested it and I thought it would be a great way to keep fresh and current on kitchen & bath design trends
  3. What is your favorite vacation destination?  Italy
  4. What is the most “out there” food you’ve ever eaten?  Lobster (I know, not too “out there,” but a big deal for a non-seafood eater)
  5. What do you do in your spare time, assuming you have any?  Knit
  6. Vanilla or chocolate?  Definitely vanilla
  7. Do you do tequila shots and have you or would you eat the worm?  Tequila, yes…worms, no!
  8. What time of day do you write for your blog?  Morning
  9. What is your favorite flower?  Peony
  10. What is the craziest thing you did in high school or college?  Ate a goldfish at a fraternity party to impress a cute boy!
  11. Do you believe in karma?  Hmmm, sort of!

11 Questions for the Nominees:

  1. What’s your favorite season?
  2. What’s your best advice for new bloggers?
  3. Are you glass 1/2 full or glass 1/2 empty?
  4. Coffee or tea?
  5. What’s your favorite magazine?
  6. Pick four words to describe yourself
  7. List your three favorite online shopping sites
  8. Night owl or morning person?
  9. Which do you prefer: ocean or lake?
  10. Where do you get your best blog inspiration?
  11. PC or Mac?

And finally…a few things about me that you might not know:

  1. I have a bit of a paper fettish — I love pretty paper, pads, stationery…especially anything with my name on it!
  2. I have four boys, and in the fall three will be in high school and one in middle school (yeesh!)
  3. My favorite restaurant is Inn at Castle Hill in Newport, RI (I love having a drink beforehand out on the lawn)
  4. I learned to drive a car on a stick shift
  5. I’d like to be fluent in Italian
  6. Someday I plan to retire in New York City (although I’m not sure my husband agrees with me!)
  7. I’ve been knitting for thirty years
  8. Summer is my favorite season
  9. I love to cook and at one time had a small catering business
  10. I love monograms
  11. My favorite movie is Out of Africa (does that make me old?)

And my Nominees are (all new blogging friends that I met at Design Camp Seattle!):


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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.


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: Plan Ahead!

Kitchen by Siematic

Many years ago while visiting my parents after they had just finished a kitchen renovation, I learned some valuable lessons about kitchen design that have stuck with me.  “Where are the garbage bags?” I asked.  “In the third drawer underneath the microwave,” my mother replied.  I wondered to myself why they weren’t near the garbage can.  Later, while making dinner, I checked several cabinets before locating the pots and pans.  Why weren’t they closer to the stove?  And when I finally found the recycling bin in the broom closet and not near the garbage, I had to ask my mother why the placement of so many things in the kitchen didn’t really make any sense.  It seemed as though it was almost an afterthought.  It really didn’t bother my mom at all, and she laughed it off as yet another example of my Type A personality compared with her Type B.   What I realized is that if you take the time during the design phase to carefully plan out the locations for as many things as you can, then the result will be a highly efficient space.  The truth is, my parents’ kitchen is large and has plenty of drawers and cabinets, so careful consideration for the location of things wasn’t really that necessary.  When you have a smaller kitchen and space is at a premium, however, you tend to plan out every inch of space.  But when space isn’t an issue, inefficiencies abound.  I’ve often told my mother that I would like to spend an afternoon in her kitchen simply relocating a few things and creating a more efficient layout.  Somehow I have yet to get around to it, as my parents (after many years now in this kitchen) have a system of sorts which works for them.

When planning for a kitchen, once the basic floorplan has been determined, then how you plan to move around in the space will have a direct impact on the specific cabinet and drawer layout.  For example, when you are standing at the food prep area can you easily reach the knives and cutting boards?   Are the spices within reach if you are standing at the stove?  Imagine yourself emptying the dishwasher…is the cabinet or shelf that will hold the dishes nearby?  When you take out the garbage, is there a drawer or cabinet close at hand which holds spare bags?  Or when you brew a cup of coffee in the morning, are the mugs and other supplies near the coffee pot?  For some, these suggestions may seem obvious, and for others the thought of planning out every cabinet and drawer might seem tedious, or even daunting, but it’s absolutely worth the work.  A large part of the design process involves thinking about how you will work most efficiently in the space, so the more time that you spend considering these things during the design and planning phase, the happier you ultimately will be.

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