Renovating Your Kitchen
Expert advice from our panel of professional designers and architects
At Design Development, we kicked off spring by listening in on a lively panel discussion at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show, sponsored by The New York Times and moderated by DDNYC co-founder Chip Brian. The event, “Kitchens and Baths Transformed,” treated a packed house of interior designers, architects, editors, contractors, and home renovators to presentations by four of the metro-New York area’s most talented kitchen and bath designers, who spoke about recent projects, style vs. fashion, and clever solutions to dilemmas ranging from cramped quarters, characterless architecture, and kiddie foot- and fingerprints.
In today’s kitchens + baths, form always follows function. Let the Design Development team help you create a kitchen that really works for you.
Moderator Chip Brian, Alexander Doherty, Erica Broberg, Joan Dineen, Dale Cohen
7 Things Every Kitchen Needs Now
—and two once-popular items you can probably live without
1. A LARGE ISLAND. The large island—with or without storage, appliances, and second sink with pulldown faucet—has become the center of the home, noted architect Joan Dineen. “It’s where we cook—or pretend to cook—and entertain.”
2. A REAL DINING TABLE “The island is essential—but it’s still not the greatest place to relax and have meals. So it’s nice to have a real dining table, as well,” Joan Dineen added.
3. BESPOKE CABINETRY + MILLWORK. Architectural detail—custom millwork, mouldings, and fine cabinetry—plays an increasingly important role in modern the kitchen, observed East Hampton–based architect Erica Broberg Smith. Woodwork brings warmth, beauty, and character. Custom cabinetry also assures the best use of all available space.
4. PERSONAL STYLE. “I tell all my clients who are planning a renovation to spend a lot of time on Houzz and Pinterest and designer web sites. Read magazines and ‘circle’ what you like,” says interior designer Dale Cohen. “When you work with your designer, you’ll be better able to communicate in pictures your unique sense of style—because your kitchen should reflect your idiosyncrasies and the way you really live.”
5. A COMFORTABLE, CUSTOM-TAILORED BANQUETTE. “Banquettes are in,” says Joan Dineen. And with good reason. They are the surest way to make the most of the limited seating area most New Yorkers have in our kitchens. (For more proof of this trend, one need only visit the recently renovated Tavern on the Green, featured here on Inhabit. Every important space has a custom banquette of its own.)
6. A BRIGHT PALETTE + REFLECTIVE SURFACES. There is a good reason why white cabinetry, Cararra marble countertops, and stainless steel appliances remain popular year after year, notes our frequent collaborator, designer Alexander Doherty. Light colors and surfaces like metal, high-gloss lacquer, and glass give kitchens a clean, open look: Anything that reflects light opens up the space. And if you are lucky enough to have high ceilings, all the better. High ceilings give make small rooms breathing space, making them feel larger.
7. BEAUTY. Never underestimate the power of understated elegance. “I generally design the kitchen for me,” confessed Alexander Doherty, with a candor that brought good-humored laughter from the crowd toward the end of the conversation. “Seriously...I think of what would work best in the space, and I want to create the most beautiful, the most perfect, kitchen,” he explained. “And then I work backwards. Children live here? Oh, right...little fingerprints...resiliency...OK.” That translates to washable surfaces, fewer sharp edges, and fabrics coated protected with a waterproof finish. In the kitchen, practical is beautiful.
WHAT CAN WE LIVE WITHOUT? In the kitchen, function trumps fashion every time, so, when you are looking to trim the budget, renovators do well to make a list of “Must Haves” vs. “Would Be Nice Ifs.” Among the expendables: “The pot filler is dead—and the microwave is almost dead,” said Erica Broberg. “Maybe we’re eating less pasta—or maybe it’s the Great Recession, and we’re eliminating the little extras that don’t stand the test of time. But that ‘must-have gadget’ of 2006 hasn’t been spec’d in too many kitchens since 2006. We’re seeing a return to luxury again—like custom hardware and exotic finishes—but in ways that will stand the test of time.”