June 30, 2010

Black Kitchens - What Do You Think?

You know I love crisp white kitchens, but I've also seen a lot of beautiful kitchens with black cabinetry lately.  What a stunning look!  I think it can work really well when used along with lighter countertops and floors.  (I've seen black cabinets with dark tops and dark floors and dark backsplashes and, well, they're just too dark.)  

We've been tempted to paint our ugly oak cabinets black.  And I really wish we could.  However, if you've seen my kitchen, you know how off-balance it is.  Half the kitchen is full of cabinets that run all the way to the 10' ceiling.  Painting all of these cabinets black would be just too heavy.   So we decided to get our black fix by painting our Dining Room black instead.

This looks like a DIY project?  I would expect that painting old cabinetry black would be much easier than painting them white.

There's a lot of cabinetry here, but it works because of the tall ceilings and abundance of natural light.  Don't you love the chandeliers?

Gwyneth Paltrow's Kitchen

This kitchen shows a black paint on oak.  I'm not a huge fan of oak grain, but it looks great in black.

I'm curious to hear what others think!

June 28, 2010

Microwave Hoods

I am a Kitchen Designer, and you know the saying about the shoemaker's kids?  Well, that applies to our kitchen.  It's terrible.  It's ugly, outdated, and extremely inefficient.  Fixing it would be a major undertaking (i.e. completely gutting the whole thing and starting over), which we just can't do right now.  So we've done little things over time to make it a little more tolerable, like replacing the awful tile countertops with laminate.  Yes, laminate doesn't have the best reputation in the industry, but guess what... it doesn't have grout lines, and that's a major step up in my book.

I really don't like microwave hoods.  And I especially don't like them at the end of a run of cabinetry.  The sides of these hoods are not intended to be exposed.  And I really really dislike them when they are mounted too low.  (Note:  Most manufacturer's specs will typically say the recommended mounting height is 66" from the top of the microwave to the floor.  In my opinion, this is WAY TOO LOW if you actually want to be able to see and stir the contents of the pots on your back burner.)  Regardless, this is exactly the set-up that came with our house.  About 6 months ago, our microwave exploded.  Fortunately it was covered under our homeowner's warranty, though unfortunately our claim got lost and it took months to sort it all out.  We finally got the replacement microwave but hesitated to actually install it, because both of us hated having the microwave in that location.  So, after days of pondering over our options, we decided if we had to have a microwave in that location, we should at least be able to raise it, which might make us despise it a little bit less.

microwave BEFORE

I'm lucky to live with a handyman who loves to cook and was therefore just as motivated (probably even more so) to do something about the microwave.   He took the upper cabinet down and somehow miraculously rebuilt it in the garage (note, we don't have a woodshop or most of the tools needed to do this type of work).  So now we have a shorter open-shelf cabinet, which is great for storing everything from the bulk food aisle.  The microwave is now much higher (maybe too high for some, but we're tall and have no children, so it's perfect for us), and we can happily cook without cursing about the microwave getting in the way.

microwave AFTER

Lesson to all of you:  I didn't think to look into what the side of the replacement microwave would look like.  If you are in a situation where you must have a microwave/hood, and it must be installed at the end of the run of cabinetry, try to find out what the exposed side will look like.  Again, these sides are not intended to be exposed, and they can be pretty ugly.

June 25, 2010

Breakfast Nooks

Ah, the weekend is here!  One of my favorites parts of the weekend is the thought of waking up slowly and enjoying my coffee and a book either in bed or on the back patio (though tomorrow there will be no lazy morning because I'm heading to the infamous Caitlin Creer yard sale to see what I can score!)

I hope you all have a favorite morning luxury.  For inspiration I'm posting some images I've collected of breakfast nooks.  On nice mornings I will always prefer the patio, but it would sure be nice to have a bright & cozy little corner nook like one of these for those days when sitting outside is not an option.

source unknown

source unknown

Have a great weekend everyone!

June 21, 2010

Transitional White Kitchens

I've had several clients recently who are interested in traditional white kitchens with a modern edge.  White kitchens are classic.  If you keep it simple you can create a timeless look with modern touches that will demand attention.  For example, the above kitchen uses a pop of orange, stainless floating shelves, and retro pendant lights.  Yet behind all that is your basic traditional white kitchen with subway tile and wood floors (and a beautiful gray island!) that would blend into any type of home from Colonial to Victorian to Cape Cod.

Below, the modern hardware, simple lines, glass accent tile, and gray undertones keep this white kitchen elegantly modern.

And this boring white kitchen becomes fun with the addition of eye-catching light fixtures, turquoise accents, and modern chairs.

Yet again, simple lines, gray tones, and retro fixtures define this basic white kitchen.

Or, you can make a modern statement in stainless with a bold range hood and floating shelves.

Again, see how color and furniture add drama to this white kitchen.

The Saarinen Tulip Table looks great in this white kitchen.  And check out that hood!
Peter Pennoyer via coco cozy

I really think white kitchens are the safest bet if you're looking for something that won't go out of style.  Woods go through phases. (We all remember when honey oak was all the rage, then maple, then cherry, now horizontal-grain veneers... what next?)  But white kitchens, if done right, can withstand the test of time.  Some new accessories, hardware, light fixtures, or seating, and you can completely transform the look of a white kitchen!

June 16, 2010

Don't Be Afraid...

I love this page from Issue #3 of Nesting Newbies magazine.  
Great kitchen, great light fixture, and great advice.  

June 11, 2010

Nursery Color Board

Our friends are buying a house AND having a baby girl (congrats you two!). They've asked for some suggestions for the nursery, according to these guidelines:

1.  The crib, dresser, and changing table are black.
2.  They're moving a red bookcase into the room.
3.  They don't want too much pink.
4.  They're not into "the typical teddy bear borders and stuff like that".
5.  They want modern with a bit of traditional, to keep it comfortable.
6.  They want to incorporate a music theme.

Below are my thoughts regarding color schemes and patterns, to give us some direction.  (Click on any collage to view it larger.)  This first collage shows ideas to incorporate SOME pink without making it the main color. Pink and red can work together well, especially if cooler colors like light blue and pale green are used with them to tone down the look. I think the light blue or pale green would look great on the walls, accented by the pink and red in fabric and accessories.

Collage info, clockwise from left to right (ending in center):
1.  etsy baby blanket
2.  from Young House Love
3.  quilt from etsy
4.  etsy apples & pears crib sheet (I believe this fabric is available at Jo-Ann Fabrics)
5.  Amy Butler Fabric swatch (not sure what it's called)
6.  Bella Baby Quilt from etsy
Center:  from Young House Love

This next collage shows ideas for eliminating the pink altogether, yet still tying in the red from the bookcase. In this case, I still think the pale green walls would look great, or you could also look at a soft yellow.  Or, if you wanted it to look less cutesy and more modern you can just use white or light gray walls. I love the middle color swatch of Pear Green, Chili Pepper Red, and Peacock Blue from Benjamin Moore (Pear Green for walls). But I also love the Amy Butler fabric swatches and crib skirt design at the bottom that use only robin's egg blue, red, and white.

Collage info, clockwise from left to right (ending in center):
1.  Molly baby quilt from etsy (I LOVE this quilt!)
3.  Moda-frolic quilt from etsy
4.  image unknown
6.  Nursery from Young House Love (shown for wall color and frame gallery wall)
Center:  Color Palette from Design-Crisis

This next collage puts together some miscellaneous concepts. When it comes to the music theme, I suggest keeping it relatively simple. Rather than wall decals, I might recommend using frames for album covers, music posters, sheet music, or a collage of concert ticket stubs. And I KNOW you guys have a great graphic designer in the family who could do something wonderful that's music-related and worth framing, and will be much more meaningful. You could even just print out album covers in black and white and frame them in colorful frames. One of the images below also shows a vintage record player, which I think is a great touch.

Collage info, clockwise from left to right:
1.  from Design-Crisis (album frame idea)
2.  from Little Green Notebook (playful nursery design scheme with red)
3.  nursery from 6th Street Design School (frame gallery wall, vintage record player)
4.  source unknown (album wall)
5.  from Sprout Gallery (crisp and fun red, blue, green color scheme with white backdrop)

June 10, 2010

It's About Time

Once in a while I get the urge to post about specific products.  This has nothing to do with sponsorship or anything of that nature (after all, I only have 16 followers so I'm not high on anybody's sponsorship list!).  I post about these products because I like what I see, and I like the design behind it.  

So today I'm posting about a new tub from Kohler, the Expanse bath.  You know the bowed shower curtain rods that were a big trend because everyone wanted more elbow room in their bath tub?  The idea was great, though often awkward because the shower curtain still had to drape inside a rectangular tub to prevent puddles of water on the floor.   

The concept seems so simple, yet it's taken this long for someone to finally come up with a bath tub that follows that same train of thought.  Kohler's tub fits in a standard 5' bath alcove (assuming this standard will accommodate a 32" wide tub rather than the older style 30" tubs).  There are so many times I've been limited by the size of the existing alcove, and this offers another option for people who like to soak.  Finally!

The only limitation?  I've yet to see a curved glass shower door, so you're stuck with a shower curtain for now.

And to top it all off, for those of you who love baths, they've also introduced a closing overflow drain.  If you're in the business, you may know the little trick many of us have used to allow clients to have a deeper bath... installing the overflow upside down to allow for a couple more inches of water in the tub.  The drain gives you the option to close the overflow when bathing so you can fill the tub as high as you want!  Probably not recommended for kids' baths... 

June 6, 2010

New Artesio Kitchen from Poggenpohl

I think my favorite thing about Poggenpohl is their ingenuity.  They are always looking for new ways to define the kitchen and integrate it into the home.  The new Artesio kitchen, designed by Hadi Teherani, carries it one step further.  This kitchen, in usual Poggenpohl form, goes beyond just the cabinetry, and that's what I love.  The look obviously won't work for many of our homes (though I bet it would if we did have a home like those shown on their site - tall ceilings, open plans, and tons of windows!)

Notice the big box-like structure that forms an arch connecting parts of the kitchen?  This is more than just architectural.  It's the power management area, which includes lighting, electrical, and audio system options.  It also contains the display area glassed in on 3 sides with LED lighting on top.  There are various bottom inserts available for this display area so it can serve many different purposes, whether storage or display.

The wall systems are integrated with the cabinetry.  Another thing Poggenpohl really does well that we kitchen designers should pay attention to is their use of the backsplash area.  Rarely do you just see decorative tile - Poggenpohl recognizes the potential use of that wall and offers accessories like shelving and other organizational systems, all built-in and flexible as a part of the kitchen.  Note the horizontal stainless steel accent strip that also serves as a power strip and mounting plate for wall-mount faucets.

The design carries through to the dining furniture and beyond, again focusing on the integral role the kitchen plays in the home.

I think I like the ideas here more than the actual kitchen (though the kitchen itself is beautiful too). The idea of integrating the kitchen, so the line between cabinetry and everything else becomes blurred, is a great concept.  And adding decorative/architectural details for practical purposes like power, storage, and lighting is ingenious.

June 4, 2010

Chalkboard Paint

I know, the whole chalkboard paint craze is sorta overdone.  I'm definitely not the first person to paint a wall with chalkboard paint.  But it's so fun, and sometimes fun just has to overrule fashion when it comes to design.

We wanted to add a little character to the wall in our kitchen, next to the laundry closet (which you'll notice still needs doors).  I'm honestly usually not a big fan of accent walls, but in this case, this one vertical black stripe did amazing things to the look of our kitchen.  The already-tall ceilings seem even taller.  I love it.

So I will continue to love this trend of chalkboard paint.  Especially now that it's available in fun new colors from places like Murobond:

June 3, 2010

More Fun with Spray Paint

I wanted to add a little whimsy to our dining room, so I bought a table on KSL's classified ads and we spray-painted it with Valspar Glossy Mediterranean spray paint from Lowe's.  

Here's what it used to look like: 

Boring, right?  It's amazing what a little spray paint can do.