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March 11, 2019

Our Angle: Designing the Kitchen

Whether you’re an accomplished culinary artist or Iron Chef wannabe, the kitchen should take center stage in your home design.

Kitchens have moved from unseen backroom workshops into homes’ central family and public entertainment spaces. As a result, kitchen design needs to be every bit as attractive and inviting as its related spaces.

Here are a few principles we apply to achieve visual continuity between our kitchen designs and the rest of the home.

The Art Wall. The back wall of the kitchen is often the most visible part of a home’s larger public space.

A common design practice: the obligatory, unwieldy range hood flanked by upper cabinets that appear to be glued on the wall with no relationship to anything surrounding them. A better way: Remove those unsightly appendages by relocating the items often kept in those cabinets to other areas such as a center island lower cabinets or the pantry to allow the opportunity to make it an “art wall.”

Full height and width back-painted glass or porcelain panels, oversized tile, quartz or unusual laminates make a strong statement that teases the eye to believe it is not the kitchen. Instead, it transforms into a sleek art wall.

The range hood also can be replaced with a virtually invisible ceiling vent remotely motored to minimize distracting noise.

Front vs. Back Kitchens. We often design our pantries to accommodate many of the items once thought mandatory in the “front kitchen.” This includes dishwashers, countertop appliances, and dishes, serving plates and bowls.

We sometimes refer to our pantries as the “back kitchen” because they assume some of the kitchen’s important but unattractive functions. This approach makes the front kitchen a clean, open and more attractive space.

Cabinets. We design our kitchen cabinets for maximum function according to how our clients cook, clean and entertain. We spend equal effort designing them to be visually integral to the overall public space.

We think of our kitchen cabinets as kitchen furniture. As our homes are more clean-lined, so are our kitchen cabinets.

We also strive to minimize distracting oversized door pulls, colors or finishes. The key is to create an environment of continuity that is restful to the eye.

Furnishings. Our kitchens often incorporate an informal dining space in addition to an island eating bar. Configured as a glassy extension with views to outdoor living spaces can make it one of the most popular landing places in the home. Built-in banquettes that continue the materials and craftsmanship of the kitchen cabinetry can effectively integrate the informal dining space into the overall kitchen design. Alternatively, smaller scaled, comfortable furnishings work well to maximize views to the outdoors and minimize visual distraction.

Lighting. We prefer to continue the level and pattern of living and dining ceiling lighting into the kitchen, while accommodating the higher intensity work areas with abundant illumination. Our pendant lighting over central islands is smaller in scale to avoid distracting the eye.

Technology. Smart kitchens are becoming more mainstream. Now ranges and ovens can be programmed to operate virtually on their own. Refrigerators can monitor contents and inform us when we need to refill inventory.

As kitchens are increasingly woven into the fabric of living spaces, it is increasingly important they equally accommodate the creature comforts technology can bring. Audio systems, under-cabinet monitors for television streaming, and lighting and air comfort controls should be as easy to operate and instantaneous as in the other entertainment zones.

The kitchen as a visible and central part of a home’s living and dining spaces is not a passing trend. Even as home designs become more efficiently sized, kitchens will continue to take on an increasingly important role in everyday family gathering time, dining, relaxation and entertainment.

With careful consideration by a design professional, the kitchen can be a seamless part of your family space with the latest technologies, materials, finishes and design elements. We can ensure this central space serves the many expected functions in today’s active and multifaceted lifestyles.