The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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« Kitchen Design Musings...II | Main | New/Cool Kitchen Products! »

Kitchen Design Musings

I received a book in the mail as a request to review it, the other day, which I subsequently declined, for reasons not relating to what's written below. Being a kitchen design pro, and especially, a blogger focusing on kitchen design, I see MANY kitchens, many more than I ever did before I blogged. It's been great!

That part alone, to be exposed to new kitchen design concepts, day after day via my blogging efforts, again, has broadened my aesthetic horizons, leaving me, continually, newly inspired.

The vast majority of the pages of the book I was asked to review contained what I'd call "bread and butter" kitchens. At first glance, I found many of the images in the book to be either dated or uninspired, with a few gems here and there, for sure. On second and third glance, my instinct was further confirmed. I didn't care for the layout of the book, either. I've seen it all before. I had an immediate, "eh" reaction.

Then, another voice (there are many voices in my head) interrupted and said, "excuse me, are you a kitchen design snob? Are bread and butter kitchens of no, or little, worth?"

Interesting question!

I will leave you with that question, as I have to get ready for an appointment. The image, here, is of a kitchen I did about 10-11 years ago, which is typical of many of the kitchens in this book, although way too many images were nowhere near even this level of "nice" and should never have made it into the book. And, again, yes, there were those which were of great interest and innovation. But, those were few, and I wanted more from the book...

More later, as I contemplate, confront, and expose potential biases which may be lurking...stay tuned!



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Reader Comments (6)

Unfortunately, I have to reign it in with painted cabinets colors, unfitted kitchens, or features that some clients may feel are over the top or will lead to added costs due to premium costs such as creative molding, and other embellishments. The majority of my clients are conservative in their desires and pocket book for a new kitchen. They would be giddy if they had an oven that worked properly or more counter or cupboard space.

Bread and Butter Kitchens are the creme de la creme for many who have been living with 35 year old builders cabinets with drawers falling apart and dated appliances. I think what excites many about kitchens today is "what's inside the box". The blumotion hinges, dovetail full extension drawers, well built cabinets, "sturdy" features. Even though we as designers may look at the fret work and the polished brass knobs as dated, the kitchen you show is a classic still and innovative with multi level counters and storage features. With a few tweaks, it too can be updated with new hardware, painted walls and a new back splash material.

Still, it is hard for me to keep it "bread and butter", I will throw my ideas out there and see which ones the client responds too.

January 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

Susan, Do you have any fear the owner of this kitchen will take offense? This is still a very nice fairly classic kitchen and really just needs some updated cosmetics. One of my dilemmas with "green" design is that it is in our and our industrys interest to make people feel that their kitchen is outdated cause selling them a new kitchen is where we make our money. I feel hypocritical pretending otherwise. Sure we can sell them the new stuff made from more eco-friendly (and expensive) materials, but the greenest solution would be for them to keep what they have.Fashions in kitchens change much more quickly now than when I started, I don't think I sold anything but Oak raised panel doors for the first 5 years I was in the business.(Okay there were a few Almond laminate with the horizontal Oak handles for the contemporary crowd.) All very dated now of course. But I also know a lot of what is still in demand now in my Midwest area will be dated in a couple years if I am any judge. But people still want the Tuscan and Country French look here. And I have to sell it to them if I'm going to make a living. It seems sometimes like we are selling $100,000 fashion statements. I do lament this and am in a bind designing my new kitchen trying to decide if I am making classic choices or just bouncing off of my boredom with all the similiar stuff we've been doing for the last few years - You know the feeling "I want mine to be my design statement" but I want clients to admire and relate to it too if they visit me. This post is all over the place I know. You have a way of opening the gates and making me think.

January 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKhat

Laurie, thanks for your thoughts. It IS fun to try to introduce new concepts to our clients, and yes, I agree that the more typical kitchens I refer to are often light years better than the existing kitchens. I do understand that. Thanks, as always, for your feedback. It adds to the discussion.

January 17, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Khat, no reason to take offense, as I see it. The image IS classic, if only a bit dated in a couple of spots. Beautiful, crisp, white, kitchen. Could there have been more artistic brush strokes taken with it? Sure, but people often do not want to go down that road, and that's really ok. A very wise designer at a cabinet factory school, the trainer, once told the class, many designers make a good and honorable living out of designing similar kitchens (with small variations as time passes) their entire careers, based on the desires of their clients who are drawn to them for just that reason. Others venture forth wanting to reinvent the wheel. There is a place for everyone in this business, as you know.

"it is in our and our industrys interest to make people feel that their kitchen is outdated".....Don't take that responsibility on, unless you are seeking out people randomly and telling them they need a new kitchen! People come to us already having decided that they want a new kitchen. I've absolutely told people that their cabinets look great, purposely to make sure they are on board with the project, but because they may be 20 years old, they're tired of them. It's partially the culture of this country.

Have fun designing your kitchen (I know it's torture!) Just be true to your gut feeling and it will reveal itself in time. We can't predict the future, what the styles will be, etc. I would advise that you be attuned to what's trendy and avoid that, as it will feel dated in a few years. A simple classic is always tasteful and elegant, and an artisan approach is personal, and there are "classic modern" looks as well. I think you're on the right track. :)

January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Well, I will say this. I tend to buy every design book out there - the ones from Amazon are sight unseen and many just go right up on the shelves and are never read or looked at because they are so lame and boring. I think that is what you are saying about this new book. I mean - why bother? It's so hard to get into publishing these days and when you see so much dreck, you wonder why? who needs another mediocre book? I think that is what you are saying? And I couldn't agree more!

March 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoni Webb

Joni, yes, I think I'm saying a few different things. And, always, one person's non-information is another person's encyclopedia. That's for sure.

March 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

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