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 - Less Is More

I came across this picture of a kitchen, again, in Veranda magazine, designed by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz. I immediately liked it.

This kitchen goes more under the heading of "highly stylized" rather than "highly personal". More "showcase", less "high end catalog". And, that said, it's a viable look. Glam meets function meets texture. There was no other image of the working part of the kitchen.

I like the variety of elements, but what I like more is the strength, yet, restraint. I need to continue to explain to my clients that less is more. Fewer, larger, shapes and forms will enlarge a space as opposed to many, smaller, pieces, door sizes, accessories, etc. This is not a good vs. bad evaluation, simply an observation and another way to design a kitchen. The look is simple and elegant, so that the individual pieces say something meaningful yet are linked together in other ways, perhaps in color or tone, if not style

Here, my eye sees a variety of styles:

utility (stainless refrigerator)

rustic (dark wood island)

glamour (beaded hood)

something hip/fun (plexiglass chairs)

elegance/sophistication yet modern (prints on wall)

modern/sleek yet textural (floor)

contrast (floor and walls)

There are common threads among these elements which tie one disparate piece to another and it's fun looking for them.  I'm actually pretty crazy about this kitchen, although I'd probably want to change the prints to something A BIT more personal...give me that. But those chairs...what a WOW!

One question that comes to mind is, what came first, or simultaneously? Was the flooring color picked first, knowing that those chairs would be used, which relate to the walls in terms of tone? Was the big picture seen from the start, or were pieces brought in, to build on the previous concept. How were the layers developed? It appears to me that there was a desire to have a strong foundation first and foremost, as seen in the flooring and the island being similar tones. Other than that, it's hard to guess.

What do you think??

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Reader Comments (15)

Lovely. The beads are going to be heck to clean after you fry you some chicken or shrimp a few times, lol!

July 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPamela

OMG...I love your comment!

July 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Could you elaborate a little on your comment about fewer, larger pieces instead of many, smaller pieces? I guess it sort of applies to how much different stuff going on in a kitchen is too much stuff??


July 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

Sure, Leslie, thanks for the question.

In short, it's a "look". The look being, not only clean lines, but much less going on to the eye, as you suggest. This approach, I think, translates into a modern feeling, where the shapes and forms take center stage, first and foremost. I think it is easier on the eye, and a "minimalist" point of view. And, this minimalist point of view, not to the extreme, but less so, can be achieved in a warm way, as we see here, not only in the cold, sleek way we see when we think of, when we think of the word, minimalist.

How much stuff IS what it's all about. I think my clients THINK they need far more things than they really do. This way of thinking is not easy to change, to do with less. But, the reward is often a relief, a freedom. The frustration comes when you have so MUCH stuff that you need to remember where it's stored, keep in its proper place, keep track of, etc. etc.

It's just another look, and it also has to do with a busy configuration of cabinets, busy door styles, numerous doors, multiple moldings, and so on. Just something to be aware of! I hope that helps.

July 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I am a big fan of this blog, and this entry was very reassuring. I am planning a minimalist and modern, but warm kitchen in a region where Tuscan and Hampton/Peacock kitchens rule. I am constantly having to justify my choices. This is my first kitchen, so I have high anxiety levels.

Thanks for all you do. I have learned so much here. And Pamela is right about those beads!

July 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSue

"Less is more" or "fewer larger pieces instead of a lot of small ones" is something VERY important in interior design in general, not only in the kitchen. Fewer larger things make a statement and leave room to breathe.

Susan, you are so right about people who think they need more things than they actually do. Although that really does not apply to me, I learned a lesson: during our kitchen renovation two years ago I stored a lot of kitchen stuff in the basement. And guess what? Right. Did not need any of it since.

So, what do I think about the new kitchen photos? Hope the beads are dishwasher safe. If it was my place, I would have chosen some colorful wall art. But other than that, it's beautiful.

July 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

Sue, follow your instincts! That, alone, will give you the most satisfaction. Sometimes it's hard not to follow the crowd, makes you feel like a rebel, but, I also think we are in a time when personal expression is really where it's at, the most important thing.

Connie, that's really interesting that you do not use that extra stuff. And, it also substantiates what Knud kapper, architect of Hansen kitchens, has said to me when clients complain of not having enough room for storage. He has told them to come back to him in six months if they need more storage. They never return once the kitchen is finished, only to do other rooms.

July 4, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

As the kitchen becomes more a part of our living space, that trend is called to grow a lot. Designing a warm and comfy room where you see less distraction is an art. This is how I plan to update my house. My first step is to let go what I do not really use. I figured out it would be easier to evaluate the extent of my genuine needs.

Interesting how this post is going. I am considering a layout that has fewer areas of "continous" counter space in favor of 4 separate areas of 8' sections dedicated to: cooking, prep, cleanup and frig/freezer/pantry. I'm trying to leave some breathing room instead of a room full of cabs and counters. People keep questioning if I will have "enough" space. There are some items in my kitchen that I haven't even touched in the last year.

July 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

Kim, great insight. You're right about that first step. It is letting go and sometimes that takes multiple steps of evaluating and reevaluating until you get to the place where it feels like just enough. But, it takes awareness of one's real needs, as you say.

Leslie, disregard what others say. They are in their own universe of what's right for them and that's the only frame of reference they know. You're evolving, rethinking. Looking at things from scratch. And, you'll figure it out. Yes, it is about being able to breathe between and among the elements in the kitchen. I wouldn't call it the only way to design a kitchen, but one which should be considered seriously, yes. I'd love to see your plans.

July 5, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

The look of the plexiglass chairs is definitely stunning- I wonder where they're from.

July 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStacy

Stacy, against a simple background, you can really appreciate them, I wonder if that was known/designed in. I don't know, I haven't seen them before, but what a statement they make!

July 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Scott- I clicked on your kitchen cupboard doors and was directed to a custom door webiste, do you have any information on if these doors are available in the us?

Thanks - April

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterApril

April, sorry, that was an obvious advertisement, so I deleted it, but looking at those doors, they can easily be found in the U.S. Just google around and you'll find what you need, I think.

July 29, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Amazing chairs!!! lol :)

November 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCourtneyyy

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