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Archive for Kitchen Design

Sep 04 2017

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When in Amsterdam


As you have seen from our most recent news feature, I spent this past week in Berlin learning about the new Miele appliance. Instead of flying straight home afterward, I took advantage of the long weekend and the location, and I visited an old friend who lives in Amsterdam.


She and her Dutch roommate live just across the street from the Dappermarkt, an open-air market, and in biking distance (because everyone bicycles there) from the city center. As great as the location was though, the greatest part of that flat was the kitchen.

If you’ve ever stayed in a European flat, the typical kitchens are mainly small and lack character or efficiency. Often even the cabinet fronts are missing – people take them when they move – and there is rarely anything other than an oven, a little countertop space, a stove and refrigerator (at least in my experience).

Her roommate Hanna explained to me that a Dutch chef, who now has a restaurant in the city center, previously owned this kitchen. He told her when she bought the place that he actually loved the galley-sized kitchen in this flat and thought he could make it work for gourmet cooking.


The countertops are stainless steel and pair with sturdy white cabinetry and modern, streamlined hardware. There is an integrated dishwasher and refrigerator, as well as a pantry pullout. The five-burner gas oven and hood are both made by Bosch. Finally, the layout is simple and makes sense, with the refrigerator closest to the dining room and the sink near the stove. To top it all off, the kitchen is mostly lit by a large window that looks out into a small garden lined with lemon trees.

After an exhausting (and rather adrenaline-filled) day of bicycling through Amsterdam traffic, I humbly asked if I could cook us dinner in the kitchen. Thankfully they were more than happy to oblige, and the combination of the nearby market and the lovely kitchen made for a great dinner with friends.

Aug 23 2017

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Cabinets to Ceilings: Finding the Focal Point

Sometimes the ceiling can be a challenge in kitchen and bathroom design; beams, soffits, ductwork, angles and height can either be a hindrance or a catalyst. You either go around, through or follow the ceiling – respecting the limitations for a site-specific composition. Without balance, there is no composition, and without composition, there is no art.

One Upmanship
This pre-WWII apartment kitchen (above photo) has a structural beam down the center. With the hood duct, little ceiling remained so we blocked it in. The sequence of the detailed cabinets and negative space around the hood elongate the room, and the usable height on the refrigerator side is emphasized by the hanging lamps.

To unite the two halves, the granite counter’s low backsplash aligns with the stove back guard and turns the corner as it rises to full height at the sink up to the glass cabinet. Similar to the black stove anchoring the main wall, the dark slate sink aids in drawing the eye to the transition. The cabinet void in the back corner creates a dynamic focal point contrasting the two heights in a display of movement unexpected in a normally staid, traditional setting.

Dynamic Symmetry
More height than width is common in NYC kitchens. The crown on the tall cabinet (above) goes through the beam, providing vitality without overwhelming the room. The architecture of this space suggests that the tall cabinet is against the column and the shorter lighter cabinets are at the open end. The deeper, tall cabinet with handles instead of knobs signifies greater importance than the surrounding cabinets.

This variation precludes the use of (everyone’s favorite) mirror symmetry (but me). Instead, balance is created using the tenets of the Golden Proportion. whereby the width to length ratio is 62 percent. The tall cabinet proportion is a golden rectangle, similar to the far-right cabinet, as well as the combination of a right cabinet, middle cabinet and shelf. The whole wall to the ceiling is an 86½-in. by x 55-in. golden rectangle.

All the cabinets are different dimensions, yet they are the same proportion. The diagonal lines from the corners cross in the center of the middle cabinet – precisely where the eye is drawn. Any other dimensions, be they wider, shorter or narrower, would generate crossing in a different spot, rendering the dynamic arrangement less visually appealing. The discrepancy might not be noticeable, but understanding golden proportions illustrates the beauty of the composition.

Height is an Illusion
The magic of kitchen and bath designers is their ability to create the illusion of space, movement and height. Above, space is created by the openness of the glass and display portion of the cabinets. Movement occurs as the dynamic eave runs the length of the wall with a reprise at the soffit panel, and height is achieved by the stepping arrangement of the cabinets. The three steps have differing personalities from the same cherry family:

  1. One curved open shelf
  2. Two louvered, angled, sliding doors
  3. Three glass doors with vertical dividers in the open area that lead to the ceiling

The 1-2-3 progression is the pleasing Fibonacci Sequence where each cabinet increases by 62 percent.

When Mirror Symmetry Isn’t Possible
Because of the beam in the photo above, a more dynamic approach to balance is required. From the tall cabinet, the line of the shelf over the window skirts the beam to touch the glass cabinet that embraces the window. This arrangement maintains an open look as the movement expands and unifies the entire wall. It’s not merely cabinet-window-cabinet that focuses on the window; now the window is one piece of the overall composition. Another detail: the glass cabinet is shallower than the right cabinet to align with the beveled angle of the shelf – adding the variety of depth to the composition.

  • A cabinet up to the beam would succumb to being handcuffed by the limitation.
  • Solid doors would produce an unsuccessful attempt at symmetry.
  • Each object has its own personality; similar to islands differing from the perimeter cabinets.

Angled Roof
A bathroom addition of an angled ceiling skylight (above) provided the opportunity to have creative fun. The blue trapezoid follows the roof and floats in the space. Field tile surrounding the design is the golden proportion 62 percent of the width of the blue form. This ratio determines the pleasing size for the space that is neither too large nor small. Connecting the dots confirms the dimensions as diagonals from the corners of the walls align with the corners of the design.

What is Going on Here?
Admittedly, the design in the photo above is not everyone’s taste. The point of discussion is using the space to the hilt. I surmise, in most cases, that cabinets would only be set along the 8-ft. height line with the remainder of the most exciting portion of the roof line left blank – what a shame. I submit this design to illustrate how by connecting the dots similar to constellations, we make familiar patterns as seen in the masterpieces: Taj Mahal and Cathedral of Notre Dame. The angle of the hood points to the apex of the refrigerator cabinet, and the extended right side of the hood and the angle of the refrigerator cabinet touch the ceiling at the same spot. Aloft in that negative space – higher than the cabinets themselves – is the focal point.

– By Mark Rosenhaus, CKD

Aug 14 2017

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Islands – Ideas for the Pulse of the Kitchen

Written by Paula Kennedy, KBB Editorial Board Member and founder of Seattle-based Timeless Kitchen Design

We all agree the kitchen is the heart of the home. Given that, I believe the kitchen ISLAND is the heartbeat, or the PULSE of that heart. It’s like a magnet! You can’t help but be drawn to it; it has an energy all its own.

Growing up at my Grammies’ house, I would sit on a stool at the kitchen table, which back then served as the island. That stool had years of paint layers, and every grandchild grew up with it. We would sit there decorating sugar cookies for hours or rolling out homemade cinnamon buns or pretending to help with canning.

My fondest memories visiting my parents as an adult are at their kitchen island. We would talk for hours sitting there, even though their stools were uncomfortable if you sat too long. But there was a sense that the magic would be broken if we moved to a more comfortable chair or room. They recently moved and downsized and no longer have an island, but the kitchen table serves just as well! My sister’s busy household has an island that is like a magnet, but it isn’t very big. It has a gas cooktop right in the middle of it, which severely limits countertop space and brings up safety concerns, yet we still gather − we can’t help it.

The is a critical element in our design; it can go really right or really wrong. What’s fascinating is that no matter how well or poorly designed, the island still draws us to it in a way no other element in the kitchen can. The sense of community and connection is palpable.

Island Ideas
I was recently inspired to craft this Pinterest board − https://www.pinterest.com/paulakennedyckd/kitchen-islands/ − to get you inspired and keep you thinking out of the box. No more pedestrian kitchens here please! Think about it, we have the honor of designing homes, kitchens and kitchen islands that will bring families and friends together for generations.

Below are a few areas I want to really emphasize before you get lost in Pinterest, again:

Island sinks are almost always necessary, I’d say nine out of 10 times. This one below is my new favorite way to accomplish this goal. Make sure they also have a soap dispenser and garbage disposal. The island sink is no longer just the bar sink or a cute item they have to have to keep up with the Jones.’

Bar stools, get out of your rut if you are in one! Please help the MAGIC by having comfortable seating. Heights are important to get right, and please do give us a place to rest our feet.

Convertible, modular and flexibility − these concepts and function are in high demand and will only increase as trends continue to change.

Do you treat the ends of the island with as much care as the rest of the design?

We could go on and on, but they won’t let me.

  • Accent material or color, only if it makes sense in the design
  • Attached “table” – see great Pinterest examples
  • Attached banquettes
  • Appliances in the island, microwaves, undercounter refrigeration, secondary dishwashers
  • Think outside the box with re-purposing furniture
  • Countertops – mix it up!
  • Visually stimulating, steal the show or be a supporting actor?
  • Avoid the block of cabinets, open it up to add interest and to aid visual illusion of a larger space

Please follow the NKBA Guidelines while designing the Pulse of the Kitchen. How many steps would you want to take to complete cooking for your family? How far would you want to walk with a hot dish out of the island? How many kids, dogs or adults do you want underfoot when preparing a meal? Enjoy the Pinterest board, it has a narrative all its own. Happy island designing!

Paula Kennedy, CMKBD CLIPP, Timeless Kitchen Design, COPYRIGHT 2017

 

Jul 31 2017

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Cracking the Technology Myth


One of the most difficult tasks a designer faces is convincing their client to invest in something with which they may not be familiar. Often that challenge comes when it comes to technology, and unless the client is a tech-savvy millennial, they are often skeptical of why a smart home would be worthwhile.

This past week the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) presented a webinar entitled, “Smart Technology in the Kitchen and Bath,” which was moderated by John Morgan, a past president for the NKBA. The webinar focused on developing comfort in discussing smart technology, understanding the smart-home concept and identifying ways to incorporate smart-tech solutions.

One of the key points the panel discussed were the beliefs clients tend to have when it comes to smart home technology. These “myths” include:

•    It is not necessary.
•    It will break the budget.
•    Current technology will become obsolete as new technology evolves.
•    Technology breaks easily and requires more maintenance.
•    Technology is only a luxury.

The panel also agreed that many designers shy away from offering technology because it sounds complicated. However, bringing that discussion to the table early with a client can truly pay out. Before the walls are put up, find out how your client might save time and energy with smart-home solutions.

Today’s solutions are often linked to apps, which all ages can easily use and relate to, without a user manual or learning curve. These apps and other communicative technology can control everything from lighting to heating and cooling and security systems in a home. A client can have a more secure peace of mind knowing who has entered and left their house remotely and whether any appliances were accidentally left on. They can more easily focus on entertaining their guests by checking on meals from their phone. It is more than convenience; it is also ideal for today’s multitasking society.

Resale value is another selling point. While consumers will probably always consider the way a house looks first, the advantage of smart technology can make the difference in how fast a home sells. In addition, new home builds often are being specced with the wiring for smart technology, so it makes sense to be ahead of the curve and include it in a redesign.

Despite the fears both designers and clients might have about smart-home technology, it is coming into our homes no matter what. During this tech boom, however, designers can get ahead by educating themselves. Be sure to attend CEDIA, the smart home industry show, which is taking place September 5-9 in San Diego. We will continue to cover CEDIA and the connected home, so stay tuned – our homes are about to be a part of the future.