01 October 2009

Designer's Wish List - Kitchen

Ever wonder what designers choose for their own homes? Here's a sneak preview of what I plan to incorporate into my next place -- and why.

I plan on buying a small house or condo in sore need of updating, so that I can put my own stamp on it. After all, why pay for a prior homeowner's choices?

You'll notice that my selections are very Sensible Style-oriented. That's because I'm all about no-fuss, easy living. I'll also share with you right now that I'm not a serious cook, (so no six-burner pro range). I was told on a long-ago date, "That's not cooking, it's reheating." I found out later that the line came from Sex and the City, but it applies just as aptly to me as it did to Carrie Bradshaw!

Now you're cooking

I would love to have an induction range. They're energy-efficient and easy maintenance. Plus, their non-flame, non-heat magnetic cooking source makes it tougher to set your place on fire! Right now, the choices are extremely limited and quite pricey. If money were no object, this is probably the model I'd choose.

I like the fact that this Viking range is a slide-in style, so that the controls are up-front and there's no bulky panel blocking my planned decorative backsplash. I also like that it has a convection oven. For someone who doesn't love to cook, getting food out of the oven faster is a nice plus.

I'll probably look for a clean-lined, very simple stainless hood to pull all the cooking aromas out of the kitchen.

I'll also seek a built-in microwave oven, rather than an over-the-range style, if space allows. I think I'd probably starve without one!

Storage style

For the past six years, we've had a large but basic kitchen that I'm looking forward to leaving behind. We added drawer organizers to corral silverware, utility knives and assorted utensils, and tray dividers in a uselessly narrow unit, but the center stiles in most of the base builder cabinets made roll-out trays impractical.

My next kitchen will have every storage accessory imaginable. Every top drawer, save one for potholders, will have organizers. Every pan drawer will have at least one divider for lid storage. Any base cabinet that isn't all drawers will have double roll-outs, pull-out shelves, tray dividers or a lazy susan. There will be roll-out trays in a pantry conveniently located next to the refrigerator. (My current kitchen has the pantry and fridge at opposite ends of the room.) I will probably do all glass-front uppers, too, to make a small kitchen look larger. I'll paint the insides to match the planned soft blue walls and show off new white dishes!

I anticipate that my next kitchen will be much smaller than my current one. That's perfectly OK with me. I'll likely use the backsplash for a stylish and convenient spice and utensil storage system. Here's one I like from the uber-affordable Ikea:

You may remember this Grundtal system from my second Sensible Style posting.

My current kitchen is cherry with a spice stain. While I still like it, my next place will have painted white maple cabinets. It's a timeless look that I've long loved. Like my current kitchen, I'll probably go for simply-styled recessed panels again.

Here's a door style and finish I particularly like, from the incredible CWP Cabinetry line. Their standard construction includes soft-close doors as well as full-extension soft-close drawers, and mitered corners for a true furniture look.

Counter intelligence

You probably know what I'm going to write next, right? You've seen me enthuse over the past year about quartz countertops. Nothing short of bankruptcy will keep me from putting solid black quartz tops in my next kitchen -- most likely with a matte finish. (Maintaining polished black stone is like maintaining a polished black car!)

Nothing combines durability and ease of maintenance the way quartz does. And nothing looks better (and more timeless) on white cabinets, in my opinion, than black tops.

Here's an example of the combo, featuring Silestone's Black Anubis. I dare you to distinguish it from Absolute Black granite! (Except when you don't have to polish or seal it!) I'd opt for a simpler eased or demi-bullnose edge to coordinate with my simpler cabinet style. Currently, this color isn't available in a matte finish... Maybe by the time I'm ready???

Shedding light

Chances are, I'll be pulling some ugly flourescent box out of the middle of a dropped ceiling. If there's a peninsula in my next kitchen, I'll add a couple of decorative pendants above it.

I like this Schoolhouse Pendant from Restoration Hardware quite a bit. If there's room for a fixture above my kitchen sink, I'd opt for the semi-flushmount version of this same light.

I'll also put in some recessed ceiling cans in place of that flourescent box, and LED lights below my wall cabinets for targeted task lighting.

Other appliances

I haven't chosen a refrigerator yet, but I don't need anything very large. The configuration will be influenced by clearances in front of the refrigerator. I've gotten accustomed to a side-by-side with ice and water through the door and may repeat that in the next place. It's so simple to grab a glass of iced water without reaching into a freezer! I do know that I definitely want a countertop-depth model, maybe even a paneled built-in.

I've been coveting the Bosch Integra 800 Plus dishwasher, shown here, since I saw it in New York last June. It's got a built-in water softener for spot-free glasses and a top rack that can hold silverware overflow. It's also one of the quietest and most water-efficient on the market. All of Bosch's dishwashers (and clothes washers) feature AquaStop, their anti-leak system. This will be potentially beneficial to my planned wood floors!

If space allows, I'd also like to have a wine captain. They come as narrow as 15 inches, perfect for a small kitchen. U-Line's Echelon, shown above, even offers three temperature zones in that small size!

Backsplash style

I love decorative tile backsplashes and plan to incorporate one into my next kitchen. It will come right down to the counter, rather than stopping four inches above at a stone splash. (That's too choppy looking for my taste.)

Being somewhat eclectic, I'm open to a traditional or contemporary splash. Here are a couple of traditional styles I like from Walker Zanger.

I like how this Ceramica Alhambra series updates the traditional subway tile look. I'd choose colors that coordinate with my planned blue walls and a darker grout that won't show evidence of last night's pasta primavera.

I also like the traditional diamonds in this Cote d'Or splash.

Here's a contemporary splash that I really like from Ann Sacks. This Heath tile showcases the three-dimensional trend that I'm enjoying lately. Its pattern comes from shape, rather than color, which adds an interesting element to a room, without being distracting.

This 12-inch by 12-inch mesh-mounted glass tile is available in stock at Lowe's for only $2.98 a tile. It's so affordable, I could update a fireplace surround with it, if I'm lucky enough to have one in the next room. Plus, I could return any overage I don't need, since it's a stock, rather than special order, item. I think it could make a very pretty companion to white cabinets and black tops and add some brightness to the space.

Things are looking down

I love wood floors in kitchens, especially dark, distressed, wide plank versions.

This client I worked with on her new construction home shared that preference, as you can see here. Like her, I'd carry the same flooring through the adjacent rooms to create a warm flow to the space. Unifying the flooring in all your public areas makes the space feel larger, crucial for smaller homes.

Fixture fancy

I've been living with a low-grade, stainless builder sink these past six years, waiting to replace it when I upgraded my countertops, a change that never happened as the Florida housing market tumbled. Boy, do I look forward to having a better one next time around! I've got a few different ideas of what I want. Here's a sampling:

A classic apron front Shaw Sink by Rohl wouldn't look out of place in my planned transitional kitchen. They're a durable option, but keeping the white super bright might be a bit more work than I'd enjoy.

This Verity model from Kohler delivers apron front style with an updated twist. I like the fact that it's 18-gauge stainless, which is better quality and easier maintenance than most builders offer. If I went this route, I'd opt to panel the adjacent dishwasher... A little bit of stainless goes a long way!

An undermount sink is a practical choice, especially in Blanco's super-durable, easy-maintenance Silgranit material. You can practically throw carving knives at it without damaging the finish. I like its array of convenience accessories, too, and its matte look.

What would a kitchen sink be without a great faucet? I've long admired the traditional styling of Kohler's Vinnata and I like the convenience of a pull-down spray. I've yet to find a new model I like as much, though I keep looking!

Final thoughts

So this is what I have in mind for my next kitchen. It's not necessarily what I'd specify for my clients, as each has his or her own personal style. I'm not one of those designers who has a "trademark" element that shows up in every project. If a JG kitchen or bath has a signature, it's styling and functionality tailored to that client. That's my definition of Sensible Style.


  1. Very well thought out, Jamie! I love the attention to detail.

  2. Wow, you've really put a lot of thought into your next kitchen!! I think living with a kitchen that you DON'T love helps you figure out how to design a kitchen that you DO love.

    We bought a Silgranit sink and a similar faucet to the one that you like for our kitchen makeover. Can't wait to get them installed!! Supposed to be next week...


  3. It looks like it will be awesome, but then I'm not surprised. You're a kitchen designer! When you get this kitchen you will, of course, need to share it with us. Hope you have a great weekend, Jamie!

  4. I'm voting for your white cabinets. We love our whites and we need to make sure they remain classic. Also I'm weary of the "requirement" for stainless appliances, probably because ours aren't. Also, I'm with you on the color and matte finish for you counter-tops, shiny doesn't look right to me. We have very dark gray counters laminate on white cabinets and it has looked and performed great for 20 years. Our architect said, "Terry, you can't afford stone, these will be just fine" and he was so right.


Found Gold: Popular Posts from the Past!

Don't miss out on any gold -- subscribe by email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner