Kitchens - The heart of the home
One noticeable difference in home design is that our kitchens have evolved, or perhaps, we are going back to an earlier era, where they serve as the “heart” of a home, its social center. Our kitchens perform differently for each of us. As the core of the home the kitchen has a strong social aspect, is the creative center for culinary adventures and is an extension of our living areas.
Sometimes referred to as a “live-in” kitchen with open floor plans, and integrated seating and conversation areas, it sets the stage for the quality of life enjoyed in the home. It is a place to gather, not only for a meal but before and after. It should harmoniously connect with the entire home, reflecting the style and personality of those living there.
Details are what create a personal statement of style. The basic ingredients, the appliances and cabinets, should be selected specifically to fit the design style of the home. A “country” kitchen, whether French, Italian or American, would most often have a more relaxed look whereas a contemporary kitchen would have a sleek, simple and restrained design.
I often get a lot of questions about kitchen design and so thought I would include a few ideas, perhaps igniting a creative urge for you to do something new.
Create an “L” shaped island with the prep sink and working area at a slightly lower level than the counter used for serving/eating. Use two different surfaces, with the higher one used for serving/eating finished with a dressier and darker material such as granite. Then, for the work surface, perhaps using “IceStone”, a product made from re-cycled materials, chosen in a neutral color. The slightly higher counter accommodates bar stools easily and the lower work surface is best for food preparation. The depth of the island could accommodate storage drawers facing the living area in addition to storage cabinets on the working side. This could abut a wall, enclosing the cooking area, yet with plenty of room for walking around into the living space.
A bank of upper cabinets with glass fronted doors, either opaque or clear, the interior painted an accent color and with interior lighting, creates a softer, lighter look yet is still very practical. Under cabinet lighting also is beautiful and helpful. I like to minimize upper cabinets and to compensate by having one or two pantry cupboards for storage. A panty holds much more, especially those large seldom used appliances and dishes, and, is more easily accessible.
With a freestanding or drop-in stove, one without an overhead hood, you can use an ornate tall mirror behind it on the wall. This is an unexpected feature that is stunning, easily cleaned, and brings a refinement to the kitchen. If that isn’t possible, do find a place for a large mirror in the room, making sure that whatever is reflected in the mirror is a view you want to see.
I think you will find it far more interesting if your lower cabinets are a different finish/color from the upper ones. And, on the island should be third finish, usually a darker one. This is also a great way to renovate an older kitchen. Just by painting and using different colors you can create a new and updated look. What you want to notice is the color contrast from the floor to the base cabinets and then the contrast from the cabinets to the counter-top. Even slight color differences work well. You could even take one basic color found on a strip at the paint store and go lighter and darker in the same tone.
As you shop you will see many options and now fortunately we can choose from many sustainable products available for all surfaces of the home. The fewer synthetic products and those known to have toxins, used in our living spaces, the healthier we make our environment.
So to your health, Bon Appétit!
Mary Courtney has been practicing Interior Design professionally for thirty-five years. Mary’s work takes her all over the country and she currently is based out of Sonoma. Mary may be contacted by phone at 707-721-6175, or firstname.lastname@example.org - www.marycourtneydesigns.com