Text by Lesley Harris Colvett
The kitchen is probably the most utilized area of the home. From the hustle and bustle of daily living to the enjoyment of entertaining guests, kitchens are popular rooms. Designers agree today’s kitchens offer function, organization, comfort, style and beauty.
Jill Hertz, ASID, CMG Professional Interior Designer, says that clients at Jill Hertz Interior Design are seeking more organization aids such as designated doors, drawers, cubbies and shelves. “Actually, we are labeling project drawings with designations like: flatware, plates, linens, dishtowels, etc. Clients want fewer items overall, but specific items for everyday use. We are designing with more glass-front cabinets than ever before. Our clients love the idea of a limited amount of display space because we are making it a focal point of the kitchen.”
In this featured home designed by Hertz, the style is French country. Hertz says her client requested a pastel color palette, comfortable seating and coordinated window treatments. The bar, which coordinates and connects the kitchen, pantry, office and dining room, was designed specifically to be a drink station for entertaining.
Fran Winstock, owner of Fran Winstock Interiors, designed a winning Vesta Show home located in the old part of Germantown, as well as this home in Piperton, TN. Winstock describes both of these kitchens as open, warm and inviting. “Kitchens today are designed in part to entertain in, not just cook. The host/hostess can be cooking while still entertaining guests, or just be part of the conversation with the family.”
The color tones of both kitchens are very similar: creams, spa blue, taupe, sage and brown. “You can accent with any color and nothing will fight,” says Winstock, as the accessories in the rooms pictured show.
In the Vesta home the island does double duty as the kitchen table. The designer says that the position of the island in the center of the room makes meal prep a family affair – the kids can be right there doing homework while Mom is cooking, and the open concept provides unity for the family.
Round tables work well in square rooms, says Winstock. Having a round table made the space more cozy for dining and great for conversation. More chairs could easily be added to this table if needed. The area is open to both the kitchen and the main part of the family room. The bar area by the dining table facilitates buffet dining.
Winstock says including a bar in the kitchen is a new trend in homes. “The bar area enhances the kitchen and is an extension of this room; it’s multi functional so you can use it as a buffet and serve food,” she notes. She accessorized the area to be part of the room, making it warmer than a “typical bar.” It all flows into the family room. “I wanted it to have the look and feel of a piece of furniture,” she adds.
As for lighting in a kitchen, Winstock feels fixtures should complement the furniture, whether they are lamps or hanging fixtures. Depending on the room recessed cans or hanging fixtures can be appropriate. Under-mount lighting is important beneath the cabinets to highlight the counter, accessories and the kitchen as a whole, says Winstock. Glass-front cabinets with installed lighting show off pretty accessories or dishes. Pendants are still being used over islands if space allows.
Cabinets today are lighter in their look, and often glazed or accented with a color. Detail work makes modern cabinets more like furniture, says Winstock. Although the two featured homes are new, Winstock sometimes keeps cabinets in older homes, adding paint or glaze to modernize them, a technique Winstock calls the “vintage look.” She feels that choosing the right hardware (knobs or handles) can make all the difference in the style you are trying to achieve. Sometimes, kitchen islands can be painted an accent color; they don’t have to match the rest of the cabinets.
Julie and Donny Walker, owners of Concrete Studio 35, describe their kitchen as an open floor plan with simplistic, clean lines featuring a mid-century modern look. “Our home was originally Donny’s grandmother’s, built in 1950. We love mid-century modern and so we purchased the home and completely remodeled it, adding on an additional 1,500 square feet. The kitchen was very small and confined, so we took out the walls separating the kitchen, dining and family room to make one open space. It’s perfect for entertaining!” Julie says. The openness to the family room and breakfast bar allows the Walkers to enjoy family time together.
Their kitchen features concrete countertops, which the couple describes as environmentally friendly, durable and modern. Julie says that “concrete is an outstanding material in many ways. It is not only beautiful and durable, but also eco-friendly. The mixture can be transformed into virtually any solid shape the creative mind can think of.” Long lasting and functional, concrete countertops provide a fresh, modern look and are aesthetically appealing for a kitchen
Hertz advises that homeowners take extra time to plan and think about their needs and desires, even if they are working with a professional. “The more functional and relative information you can provide, the better your kitchen will turn out. Always check the credentials of any contractor before you give them a deposit, even if they are friends of a friend or if a neighbor has used them before. Do not hesitate to call and verify their documents. It is worth the extra expense to work with a qualified interior designer and general contractor,” she adds.