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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A Kitchen Design Blog

It's three years today since I made my first entry in this blog! 

Holding a favorite Scandinavian plate in my kitchen from the island of BornholmMy initial thinking was that I finally had an outlet to talk about, really, to share, my 20+ years of experience as a business owner and Certified Kitchen Designer in nearly ALL types of kitchen design...super luxe high end to builders' condos, all different styles and themes, and kitchens in shades of (environmentally) green. I have lots of experience to draw from, knowledge gained from many sources, hopefully presented with a helpful perspective.


Always an intense student of human behavior (including my own ongoing navel-gazing) as well as being fascinated by the WHYS behind my clients' design decisions, in part, to make sure their decisions are authentic/organic to their needs and/or desires, much of this blog has been dedicated to highlighting potential pitfalls in the decision making process of designing one's kitchen.

Many people do a kitchen once in their lives. If not once, then at most, only a few times more. The decisions made NEED to be as right as they can be at those moments in the design process. It's a time to look in the present, as well as forward, and back, especially, as I help my clients and readers unravel habit vs. desire, as one example. This is a part I love about writing this blog and working with clients whether for a one hour session or for a year and a half project. It's easy and natural for me to "nudge", probing for answers, hopefully in positive ways. I simply love the process, and I'm good at it. I define the "still waters run deep" personality for better or worse...my kids will gladly tell you the "worse" part of my being a deep thinker. Hmm, my husband may too, for that matter.


At the time I started this blog, I also immediately thought, "Yes, now I can also share another passion of mine, one that is little known and rarely followed here in the US - Scandinavian kitchens! Yes, I'm completely biased, having a 100% Danish heritage as a first generation Danish-American, having visited my family in and around Copenhagen my whole life.

That said, there IS a quality to many Scandinavian kitchens that is unique, intelligent (not as much "stuff"), and just downright visually interesting - if not always beautiful in a conventional way. I've been lax and am gearing up to show you more of these great kitchens soon. I strongly believe the Scandinavian kitchen is at once classic and always fresh. 

At last count, I have close to 160 magazines from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in my Scandinavian magazine "library" with a subscription of about 5 right now. They are all in my office, categorized by name and date. Did I tell you I'm just a bit obsessive? Let me tell you about my 200 roses from my previous garden, which we just left a year ago, not to mention the tens of thousands of rose, perennial and garden images in my hard drive. But, I digress. It's a blessing and a curse...but it is a life lived with passion, I'll tell you that! It may be why most of my posts are longer than shorter. 


Hmmm...good question! What would YOU like to learn more about from me? Please share that with me in the comments.

You can absolutely count on my continuing, and intense, observation of lifestyle trends in the home, talking about how new products make our lives delightful, all the large and small things we need to remember as we design our kitchens, and always...the meaning of life in the kitchen!

 I'll continue to (happily-cool food and people) trudge through 20+ kitchen/design events/seminars in New York City in one year, attend several design related conventions in and out of New York, scour the blogs and magazines for new insight, hang with my tweeps on Twitter and chat with fb fans (be a fan!) fly here and there for product training, and read every single press release. How lucky am I? This industry is the BEST.

And my readers? You're REALLY the best, and you feed my soul when you comment. Now, speaking of commenting, I do need to be better at responding to comments, and I will try. I read every one. I have my hand in so many things (big news on a few fronts to come) that there is always something that has to "give" somewhere. But I'll tell you this: the second I get a comment, I stop what I'm doing to read it however long or short it is. They just give me such joy during my day. I pledge to engage more with you, to reciprocate for the joy you give me.

Thank you!


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Reader Comments (28)

Happy Birthday- Congrats!

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Congratulations on your third year blogging anniversary. My partner and I have just had our second! As part of the blogging process I am forever online looking for material for the site, and I have often read your blog in these two years. I believe yours is one of the better sites, and I often find myself hoping we might one day link our site to yours.

My partner and I are woodworkers, although as a licensed cabinetmaker, he’s a bit ahead of me. He’s a former software engineer who serves as our webmaster, and I am a failed novelist (two unpublished novels) who is comfortable with the writing assignment. We have posted some 500 blogs, all but two written by me. I write about kitchens and baths—usually some variation of design—but because we’re sawdust makers, I tend to approach it from a different point of view.

What I do enjoy a lot, though, is coming across a kitchen designer who approaches the work as I like to think I would, had my life taken me in that direction. I believe the idea of the designing process is to design for one’s clients what the clients would have designed themselves, had they the designer’s talents. Far too many designers, in my estimation, simply push whatever is “hot,” and don’t really give their clients the personal attention they deserve.

A kitchen, for good or bad, is almost always the heart of the home, and when a person is able to have that new kitchen it just seems such a shame to not get, to the extent that it is possible, the kitchen of one’s dreams. And that brings us back to the role an excellent kitchen designer plays. Note that I did not say a good designer, but an excellent designer, because based on the blogs I’ve read here over the years, I do believe you got into the business not because it seemed like easy money, but because you have a passion for the work you do.

It’s weird how life works out sometimes. My mother was born in 1926, and her mother was killed in a car accident when Mother was 16. In those days kitchens and households were women’s work almost exclusively, so my mother had to assume those duties, like it or not. When she had her own children, she vowed that she would see to it that her daughters never had to do that. She insisted that my brothers and I (it was 3 boys first, then 2 girls) learn how to cook, and I was 16 or so myself before I found out that much of the world in the 1950s still considered it women’s work. But by then I knew how to do it, and knew, too, that I very much enjoyed it. I ended up as an Army cook for three years, then cooked for a living the first year after I was mustered out. All these years later I still enjoy being in kitchens. I actually even enjoy getting in and just scouring heck out of it, which pleases my wife no end, I will tell you!

But kitchens are important to a home, and more and more they are becoming the place where people like to congregate, both as a family and when there are guests. How one remodels a kitchen, then, can make an important difference to one’s home—not for the resale value, but simply for one’s own bliss. Because working in a well-designed kitchen is a joy unlike any other.

As for what I would like to see in upcoming blogs, my first answer would be more of the same, because you write a wonderful blog. As for subject matter, I would like to see blogs on the design process itself, or more specifically, the thinking that goes into a particular kitchen design. What are the challenges you encountered in bringing a certain kitchen to life? What were your clients’ needs and wishes? How much was fantasy, and were you able to achieve any of it? Was there an unique problem that required a certain amount of give and take with the client to get that kitchen to where it needed to be? Did you have a client just falling all over himself in gratitude for what you achieved with a kitchen design? If so, what was the process that brought this about? What are the elements you look for in kitchen design? Can you design something you would not use yourself (not a major design defect, but maybe just a color or design concept you don’t personally care for), but that completely pleases your client?

OK, I’ll stop now, but again, congratulations on blogging so well for so long.

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Congrats on your three year anniversary!

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPlumberSurplus

Congrats on your 3rd year anniversary! You inspire me to believe there is hope for my 'baby blog' yet. I love the idea of seeing more about Scandinavian kitchens and design in general. Looking forward to seeing you next week too!

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPam


Happy Anniversary! I am so happy to have found you (or did you find me??) in this blogging world and have really enjoyed your thoughtful and meaningful posts. I look forward to meeting you in person someday and hope that working together is in our future as well.

My best,

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTricia - Avolli

Congratulations on your 3 year mark!

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIn Detail Designs

Well done and congratulations on your 3rd anniversary as a blogger. I don't know how you get it all done...
but keep the postings coming.

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel

Happy Anniversary to you and your blog! A lot of hard work there - you should be rightfully proud.

February 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

Your posts are always interesting and inspiring. Congratulations on your much deserved success. Looking forward to reading the "big news on a few fronts".

Susan, many thanks!

Joseph, where do I begin? :) I'm floored/flattered/grateful and other adjectives that I'm not finding right now, that you took the time to share your thoughts. The parallels that I see are interesting. My husband's father was a cook in the army, a job he loved very much. And, my husband too, LOVES to clean...fortunately for me!

I see we also have a similar philosophy on kitchens and kitchen design. While I think it is, if not important, than useful, to be aware of what's hot in kitchens, it's only one piece to a puzzle, a piece that my clients may or may not be interested in. Thank you for the thoughtful response to what you would like to see here in the future. Thank you for being here Joe!

Plumbersurplus, thanks for the thanks!

Tricia, I definitely (at least I think) I found you first. I certainly knew of you, I'm sure, before I started my blog. I honed in on your web store pretty quickly...lots of lust for your beautiful things. I hope we meet one day too! Thanks for your kind words.

In Detail Designs, thanks much, appreciated!

Miguel, another new lovely friend, thanks for your support.

Kelly, love ya! Thanks a bunch...see you soon!

Mark, thanks, Mark. Anyone need an architect...he's your man. Sometimes, I feel like we've grown through this together. I know there's lots more coming from you on your blog, and the same for me.

February 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Congratulations on your third year, & wishing you the best for the future.
I enjoy your voice and point of view very much. I admire your work ethic and how much you have gotten accomplished. The site is informative and warm and personal. I also appreciate some of the links and other sites you've shared here.
Maybe one day I'll be able to afford an new kitchen for myself! In the meantime you help keep me up looking at the whole kitchen(s) when I am working on the hardware.
I just got my little Flickr mice (Marcus & Tilly) a new waffle maker! I am so excited! And am having to make design decisions about their kitchen, I am leaning toward French country for them.
I love the Scandinavian sensibility in the kitchen, I had a Grandpa who came on a boat from Sweden.
Looking forward to your posts in the coming year.

February 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChloe C.

Hi Susan - Congrats of your third anniversary! Sorry to be late to the party, have been woefully behind in my blog visiting!! You're one of my favorite people I've met out here in bloggy land and I've learned so much from you!

Congratulations, Susan! I'm glad our paths crossed. Looking forward to many more years of your thoughts, ideas and inspiration.

February 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Price-Robinson

Back at you Susan. Happy anniversary! I wouldn't miss a post.

February 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Deras, CKD, CID

I am always fascinated by what great designers and architects design for themselves. I don’t know if you plan to redo the kitchen in your new home but I’d love to see what you would do if you were to remodel.

February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMike Springer

Congratulations! It's inspiring to hear from such an enthusiastic participant in the industry and one that is a successful blogger!
I just started a blog for my cabinet and design studio and I've been looking for like-minded bloggers out there in our industry - glad to have found you!


February 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca Fulton

Congrats Suzan, I am a ktchen designer based here in Ireland. I envy anyone who can blog. I have tried it and I am still working on it but its seems like every post I write looks like a sales pitch rather than advice... There is a thin line between both and it's the difference between a good and bad blogger.

March 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKeith

Congrats on three years Susan!

April 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCopper apron sink

Hi Susan - Congrats of your third anniversary! Sorry to be late to the party, have been woefully behind in my blog visiting!! You're one of my favorite people I've met out here in bloggy land and I've learned so much from you kitchen accessories

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRyanJames

Veryt passionately written,congratulation on your sucess :)
it was such a nice information about scandinavian heritage from you.

Talk about scandivanian kitchen reminds me of swedish and danish,floor titles ,laminated flooring and wooden planks all around.

your designing skiills are remarkable.

Keep the blog active .

September 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterterex

it was such a nice blog .
can we have some more information about latest innovative designs which i can use it stockholm.
i mainly work on kitchen renovation in stockhom mainly on our wide selection of kitchen & doors from Storsjökök in Ostersund, Strömsdal and Nova Flex in Boras.we laminate worktops and solid wood panels, handles and kitchen cabinets from Spiab & Linfalk

Polygonvägen 5
18766 Täby. 18 766 Täby.

September 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterterex

Yes! I love the reference to the meaning of life coinciding with kitchen designs !

October 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Hi Susan - Congrats of your third anniversary! Sorry to be late to the party, have been woefully behind in my blog visiting!! You're one of my favorite people I've met out here in bloggy land and I've learned so much from you!

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeather sectional sofa

I am always fascinated by what great designers and architects design for themselves. I don’t know if you plan to redo the kitchen in your new home but I’d love to see what you would do if you were to remodel.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRustic Furniture

Early rising enables us to plan the work of the day. We can’t work well without a plan. Just as the plan for the year should be made in spring, so the plan for the day should be made in the morning.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRustic Furniture

Congrats Suzan, I am a ktchen designer based here in Ireland. I envy anyone who can blog. I have tried it and I am still working on it but its seems like every post I write looks like a sales pitch rather than advice... There is a thin line between both and it's the difference between a good and bad blogger.

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHospitality Furniture

I think this would be great for my front room/office to store all books!! It’s hard to find space for a full time mom & college student’s things when you have little ones taking

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeather Sofa Furniture

Congrats on the 3 years. I have been reading it for the last few months and it is very entertaining. I'll be sure to visit more frequently now that I am in the middle of a kitchen redesign.

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