Category Archives: Kitchen

Mad Men Inspired: Stainless Steel…Then and Now

Today I’m thinking about the season premier of Mad Men.  Devotees of the show have been waiting with bated breath for Season 6 to begin, and last night’s first episode did not disappoint.  I thought, like many other bloggers, that it would be fun to dig up a photo of a kitchen from the 60s, which I did, but I also found this great 1960’s ad from McLouth Steel Corp. in Detroit, Michigan, touting the virtues of stainless steel.  “If she takes pride in her home — give her a kitchen of stainless steel!”  Who would have known that using stainless steel in the kitchen would have lasted the test of time like it has!

HB60skitchen

The October 1961 issue of House Beautiful magazine featured this kitchen, and if you look closely you’ll notice that stainless steel is used in several different applications.  The cooktop, sink, counter tops and hood (I’m not sure if the faucets are stainless or chrome) are all made with stainless steel.  Look at the scalloped edge on that hood!

ina-apt-2

Fast-forward fifty years to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Fan favorite, Ina Garten, chef, cookbook author and Food Network TV personality, allowed Town and Country magazine into her Paris flat in 2008 to discuss her love of Parisian life and, of course, cooking.  Photos reveal a fabulous kitchen with a stunning La Cornue range and…stainless steel cabinets, hood and backsplash!  What fascinates me is that this material that’s been used for decades, continues to be employed in many different applications.  Whether it’s used for appliances, counter tops, fixtures, cabinets, tiles or backsplashes, stainless steel in the kitchen has certainly endured.

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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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Small Space: Big Impact…Elements We Love


This kitchen certainly proves that you don’t need to have a large space to make a big impact — it’s all in the details and the careful selection of unique design elements.  I have wanted to write a post about this kitchen for a while, and just thought that I would wait until I wrote about selecting the right hood for your range — and what better example to use than this beautiful hood from designer Michael S. Smith’s home in Bel Air? The problem is that I fall in love with this kitchen for so many different reasons every time I see it, so why wait to write about it until I dedicate an entire post to hoods??

What is it about this kitchen that resonates with me so much?  Well, the hood is definitely my favorite element.  Designed by architects Oscar Shamamian and Joseph Singer, the gently curved hood, with its antique pewter finish, hangs over the BlueStar range just as if it were in the kitchen of an old British country home.  And that’s certainly in keeping with the English country style that Michael Smith was going for when designing this house.  The hood is not the only unique element in the space, however.  The use of the unexpected barrel-vault ceiling (inspired by famed British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens) draws your eye up, which when coupled with a glass-fronted refrigerator and cabinets, is such a clever way to give the illusion of more space.  The curved lines of the ceiling, hood and pendants (from Ann-Morris Antiques) are such a nice contrast to the more linear features of the cabinets, appliances and stunning wide-plank floors.  Together, they make for a much more interesting and unique space.

Another thing that I admire about Michael Smith’s design aesthetic is his belief that you should select elements that you love for your kitchen, and not just practical ones that always look perfect.  His countertops, for example, are made of Lagos Azul limestone from Walker Zanger, and are known to stain when they come into contact with certain foods.  “Every once in a while I’ll have them professionally cleaned, but I like the fact that they’re not static…If I have counters that stain and floors that need to be waxed, then I can say with great confidence, ‘Hey, don’t be afraid.  It does require some extra effort, but it’s worth it.'”  I completely agree.  When renovating my own kitchen, I wanted to use honed marble on my island.  I love to cook, and staying away from citrus, tomato sauce and red wine was simply not an option.  Everyone, without exception, told me to avoid marble since it’s so porous and prone to staining.  But I loved the marble so much.  Happily, six years later I am so glad that I went with my gut and picked the material that I really wanted, despite the warnings.  It has aged beautifully and has a patina that will only continue to improve with age.

Michael Smith’s kitchen exemplifies the fact that you can successfully use both interesting architectural features and design elements to make a space feel larger.  In his own kitchen, Michael Smith also teaches us a lesson in having what you love.  Yes, it’s sometimes a bit more work to maintain, but a kitchen is an investment, so if you can swing it, shouldn’t you have what you truly love?

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Design Element: Interior Barn Doors

Source: thedesignerpad.com

I continue to be amazed at how frequently barn doors are appearing in interior design.  This is a trend that simply has not gone away.  Today designers are coming up with more and more creative uses for interior barn doors — and some are even making bold statements with color.  Barn doors aren’t just being used as room dividers any more.  

Barn doors are being used to hide kitchens…

Barn doors are being used to hide bathrooms…

Barn doors are being used to hide mudrooms…

Barn doors are being used to hide laundry rooms…

And barn doors don’t even have to look like barn doors anymore.   Reclaimed doors mounted with barn door hardware can make a great statement in any space.

Source: simpleeverydayglamour.blogspot.fr

One of the most appealing aspects  of interior barn doors is that they are not difficult to install.  Taking up less floor space than a traditional swinging door, and requiring less interior wall manipulation when installing than a more traditional pocket door, the barn door simply glides along a track that’s mounted to the wall above the door opening.   A barn door in an interior can also add a rustic or industrial feel to an otherwise traditional space.  Installing an interior barn door is a great example of the type of unexpected design element that can add interest to any space.   Have you ever considered adding one to your home?

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This Month’s Featured Kitchen: The New Traditional

When the April issue of House Beautiful  arrived, I was excited to see that this month’s featured designs reflected a celebration of “the best traditional style now.”   I waited until I could find a quiet moment to savor every page, and when I saw this kitchen designed by Connie Newberry of Gerald Bland, Inc., I knew I had to write about it.  There are just SO many things to love about this beautiful space.  

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways!

  1. Wide plank floors — aged to perfection!
  2. Farm table with fabulous (and somewhat unexpected) chairs
  3. Paneled banquette with a raised back — to hide all of the pots & pans used to make every delicious meal
  4. Vaughan lamps placed on the countertop — I love different types of lighting in a kitchen!
  5. Wire door fronts on select cabinets  with a contrasting paint color on the interior adds just a pop of color
  6. Simple cabinet door style and hood (I’m liking the exposed hinges, too!)
  7. Is that a bar area off to the left with a separate sink and dishwasher?  Delightful!
  8. Small kitchen desk with just enough space to get things done but not enough for piles of paper
  9. Striped rug underneath the table adds just the right amount of casualness to the space (great mix of high and low with the more formal lyre-back chairs, don’t you think?)
  10. The use of both mahogany and stone countertops adds just a little bit more interest and warmth
  11. And finally, I love the clean lines of the goose-neck faucet and simple polished cabinet hardware

Who says traditional has to be old-fashioned?  I think today’s “new traditional” is a lasting look.  House Beautiful is definitely onto something!

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Nate Berkus Returns to TV: Renovation Nation

This week brings good news to fans of designer Nate Berkus.  The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Berkus will host and executive produce a new design competition on NBC called Renovation Nation.  Devotees of the designer were disappointed to see him leave the airwaves when his design show, The Nate Berkus Show, was cancelled last spring, so many are anxiously awaiting his return to television.

Nate certainly has been busy.  News of his upcoming show comes just a few months after he sat down with designer Tory Burch to discuss both the release of his latest New York Times Best-Selling book, The Things that Matter, and his recent collaboration with Target on a line of bed, bath and décor items for the home.  In that conversation they talked about Nate’s design style, which can be best summarized in his own words as “assembled and collected over time.  Not heavy on color, very heavy on layering and texture.”  

I think that the kitchen above, which was designed by Nate Berkus, exemplifies this style in how “collected” it looks.  In his design he combines classic elements, such as the parquet floor, crown molding and marble countertop, with more unexpected items such as the windowed partition between the kitchen and living spaces, the use of mixed metals (which has become a much more accepted practice today) and the rolling cart in place of a fixed island.  Most people would have left the kitchen open to the living room, but what Nate did with that window adds so much more character to the space — it’s my favorite element!

I, for one, am delighted that Nate will be returning to television.  I look forward to learning more from him and to being inspired by his design.  We all can take a lesson from Nate’s core design principle that  “your home should tell the story of who you are.  What you love most collected and assembled in one space…the philosophy that things do matter…They represent where we’ve been, who we’ve loved, and where we hope to go.  They make us happy, and I can’t think of a more beautiful way to live than that.”  Thank you, Nate, I agree!

 

 

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Design Inspiration: The Pantry

I set out today to write about kitchen pantry storage and I stumbled upon this beautiful image.   After doing some research I realized that I had better qualify just what I mean when I say pantry since there’s quite a big difference between a beautifully designed butler’s pantry and a utilitarian pantry which stores all of the necessary dry goods to feed your family.  But why can’t that utilitarian pantry still be beautiful?  I am a firm believer that your kitchen can be both functional and beautiful, so why not the pantry, too?

While the butler’s pantry above, complete with silver service, would make a lovely addition to someone’s home, today we’ll focus on designing a pantry to store all of the goodies that you need to get meals on the table.  Designing your pantry is just as important as planning for anything else in your kitchen.  It’s important to keep in mind how you’re going to use it and where you’re going to locate it.  Do you have a large or small family?  Do you cook a lot?  Do you entertain a lot?  Do you often buy in bulk?  Do you need to store cookie sheets, small appliances and serving trays here, or do you only have room for food?  And the all-important consideration:  will it be easy to unload groceries here?  

 

The ideal walk-in pantry:

  • Is located close to the food prep area of the kitchen
  • Utilizes a combination of storage options, including shelves of varying depth and drawers, if possible
  • Has good lighting (and maybe even some electrical outlets for small appliances)
  • Is designed so that items are easy to find and easy to access
  • Has a place for everything!

As I pondered these questions myself, I realized that many of the pantry images that I love didn’t really meet many of my design requirements.  Often times, the shelves were too deep and items were difficult to find — or the heavy KitchenAid mixer was stored on such a high shelf that it would never be used.  Unfortunately, sometimes when designing a space we pay so much attention to the aesthetics that we forget the function.  So, even though I love a beautiful butler’s panty, I think that the second pantry image would better fit my lifestyle.  And when there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place, then I know I’ve set myself up for success…and that’s beautiful!

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Design Inspiration: The Movies

After watching the Oscars last night, I have movies on my mind.  So, for today, I will pose a question.  What do the following movies have in common:  Father of the Bride, Something’s Gotta Give, The Parent Trap, The Holiday and It’s Complicated?  First, I will give you a hint:  the kitchen above is from the set of It’s Complicated, and the kitchen below played the starring role in Something’s Gotta Give.  By now you may have guessed that all were written and/or directed by the talented Nancy Meyers.

There is a quality about the spaces, especially the kitchens, in Nancy Meyer’s films that resonates with people.  Perhaps it’s their cozy and inviting atmospheres that draw people in.  Or maybe it’s the beautiful elements so carefully selected that together result in an unforgettable space.  While most of Meyer’s kitchen sets have high-end materials, they still appear to be lived in, not simply show pieces.  But there’s something about her interiors that people simply can’t get out of their minds.  Ask any designer and they will likely recall a client who longed for a design element seen in a Meyers film.  When interviewed by Elle Décor for the July/August 2012 issue, Meyers revealed that her set design is such an important part of her movies that she treats it almost like another character.  When asked about the often-copied kitchen from Something’s Gotta Give, she thoughtfully responded:  “It’s the story mixed with the decor that makes people like it so much…When I think of somebody’s house, I think of the kitchen.” 

Set designer Beth Rubino and interior designer James Radin are often on hand to advise Meyers and to execute her vision for these glorious spaces, and clearly that’s a winning combination.  For me, the most memorable Nancy Meyers design is Meryl Streep’s bakery in It’s Complicated, shown above.  It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Nancy Meyers movie, so when I read that she has several projects going on, I was excited that we might soon see some more of her fabulous interiors on the big screen.  Upcoming movies include The Chelsea, directed by Meyers and written by her daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, and The Intern, written and directed by Meyers and starring Tina Fey.  Hopefully one of these projects will feature another gorgeous kitchen that will inspire us all!

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