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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« House Beautiful Kitchen Of The Year 2010 | Main | Father's Day And Kitchens »

Modern Kitchen

As a random feature, I'd like to show you a kitchen that would be interesting to talk about. In this case, it's a modern kitchen. 

It's always interesting to dissect the foundation and other elements that make up the framework of the design. There are several ways to "see" this kitchen. Images by the ridiculously beautiful magazine, Rum.

Below: Let's look at the largest view of the space. It's very strong, isn't it? Both the wood and the white, to me, are equally strong. This modern kitchen is striking in its simplicity with its super clean lines. Yet the texture of the wood makes a very striking...yet quiet...statement. It's strong, but sort of offers a feeling of security. An exciting mix of contrast on traditionally opposite planes (white used horizontally, wood used vertically) the white, larger in proportion and supplemented by furnishings, indeed serves as a paradoxical foundation. 

Below: THIS shot of this kitchen is a wow, no question about it. Can we achieve any more of a minimalist design? The shot itself is stunning. The wood texture and color radiates warmth and elegance. Clearly, the design is art...a functional and living sculpture.

Below: Well, the modern kitchen plot thickens! Now we see that this is a loft type space. A very open floorplan. The white continues from floor to ceiling to bedding to accessories. Two elements - wood and white. Strong rectilinear shapes focuses the eye toward (in one visual sense) floating and dominating vertical planes, a monument to the most important element of the space - the beauty of the wood. 

I must say that I'm not on board with living in this environment. It's not for me, but I ask these questions: Is the design is a reflection of the designer or the client? Is it a monument to the designer's ego or was it a concept the client was interested in experiencing? The origin of a design like this is of interest to me. Of course, one has to visualize the space with the tools of living. Are there children in the home? Clothing, books, toys, papers, all must have a concealed home and time taken to store used items when finished using them...or else. 

Can one live a 100% completely clutterless life? Seems a requirement for this type of living. Sure, I'd love to experience living in this way, but, as a second home, not a primary home and even so, I'd probably have to "test" it by renting a similarly conceptual home to see if it's a fit for how I live. It's living, functional, art, and it is quite amazing and wonderful, but the paradox and questions remain.

So, what do you think? How does this space make you feel? Would you like to live in these spaces, visualizing everyday living?

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Reader Comments (24)

To answer the question, "How does [the space] make me feel?":

It makes me feel like I'm not supposed to touch anything, sit down, or even have a conversation. I would bet that wouldn't be far from how a kid would feel in it, too.

The wood is warm, no question about it. But the amount of it, and the unbroken planes of it render it sterile. Ironic that such a touchable element by itself seems so unapproachable here.

If I were living in that space daily, I would need some raw elements in it to humanize it. Like some textiles. A nice heavy rug, some books, a plant or two. Something that indicates living creatures occupy it & give it some soul & reality.

June 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecky / ecomod

My question is this: do they have any passions? Hobbies? Life?

While I realize not everyone defines their house by "stuff" their lack of "stuff" seems incredibly plain and boring.

To even have a meal at the table would seem overwhelming because there is nothing else out.

Overall, it is a nice space, but is lifeless.

June 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertasha

The design is strong and carries a very powerful vibe. But it seems to be all about containment, minimalism and hiding things. The lines are so structured that any curve like the bowl, faucet and chairs, scream out.

Frankly I wouldn't want my kitchen faucets to be the lone piece of personality in the room.

I agree that it seems to be more of an experiment by the designer than representative of the home owners.


John Candalino

June 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKitchen Decor Nut

Such insightful comments. It's not that the design is flawed. I agree, it's about the lack of life within and throughout the design. No amount of warm wood can take the place of signs of life. That's why I thought this was interesting to discuss.

June 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Before I got to the part of your post where you said it was not for you, I thought wow, this is beautiful wood, and an elegant space in its way, but you couldn't pay me to live in a space like that. Well, I should say, if I lived in that space, it wouldn't look that way for long. It looks like a showroom, not a home. There are probably some people out there in the world who can live that way, put everything away immediately after use, only keep those things that are really essential, clean up every mess immediately, have no need to have "things" around them. I doubt we'd get along very well.

I do love the wood and the strong grain of the wood. But the whole thing mostly leaves me cold.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjeannie

Very beautiful a nice place to visit but there is no way I can live clutter free. I like having my stuff, piles of books and magazines. I keep my kitchen utensils out and near the prep area and stove. Probably would not get along with the owners of that kitchen. I do like the wood but not that much of it.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I think this design is just a way bit moder for me.
How does it make me feel? It makes me feel like I don't exactly want to cook in there or be motivated to try and conquer a recipe! For what are kitchens for, than to make a huge mess!

I'm not a huge fan of the super contemporary modern style. It lacks life and interaction but overall it is a great design for a showroom!

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKeska Georgr

This space feels very clean and functional, with a futuristic yet earthy feel. The designer successfully blended both worlds, in a ultra clean space (with the white accents) with an added organic feel (with the wooden materials).

Living in this space would be interesting, the space feels "too perfect" (unrealistic) with no touch of warm colors. In that respect, I agree with all the previous comments regarding the lack of life or personality. An interesting version of this design would be to use laminate flooring with similar white and futuristic furniture and a few warm colors to make it more enticing.

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaminate Flooring

I love the idea of modern, clean and clutter-free living, but that is a bit extreme. I was glad to see you think so too.

Still, it's exciting and inspiring to see design like that and I'm glad there are people bold enough to do it in their homes. I imagine an austere couple with no kids, but who knows!

A friend of mine remodeled her kitchen to be ultra modern and utilitarian, but it's somehow more welcoming than the one above. Check it out and tell me if you agree: http://urbankitchenandbath.blogspot.com/2009/11/beatiful-kitchen-with-modern-edge.html

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

i am surprised that modern living is associated with cluterless living. In times before, people did not have much to spend on stuff and buy "design" for the house. their needs defined their living and that was their design, without much afterthought and they lived very clutterless life. Their hobbies were not to buy stuff around the mall- they made their needs - clothes, food, shoes, grew plants, canned food for winter and made winter clothes ...

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranrosh

It's definitely a beautiful kitchen. The use of wood vs white space is done very well. It's not my choice of design but I can certainly appreciate clean, minimalist and modern. That being said, I couldn't live in it because I'm not disciplined enough. Not that I'm messy by any means, for goodness sakes I opted to install marble counters. However in a look that's this linear and sleek, even a folded up dishcloth on the counter throws off the mood.

My two immediate thoughts were:

I can see myself holding an armful of something and tripping over the "coffee tables"

How does one open the cabinets? Is it a push-and-pop-open type of latch? If so, there would be the inevitable finger marks from dirt or body oils on the door corners. Mood ruined.

July 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

This was a very detailed article. The images are great, especially the fold out bed. That would be nice for guests. The whole design of the place looks amazing.

The living space is definitely not for me. It seems soulless. But I think the kitchen works well. The woodgrain would only really work in such a simple design though. The woodgrain is quite strong so a fussy design would be too much. I think the room is too empty and because the space is quite big, it look too industrial and cold. A smaller, cosier room and it would be fabulous. Being a kitchen designer, I am looking at it from the point of view of the kitchen.

July 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKitchens

I love it! I'm inspired by ultra modern clean living. I don't know that I could live that way, by it inspires me to push my comfort zone a little closer to the modern edge.

Here's another example that shocked and impressed me. Too cool for me, but worth looking at. Check it out if you're interested: http://urbankitchenandbath.blogspot.com/2010/07/lift-kitchenincredible-innovation.html

July 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

It seems that this space was nicely designed. However, I agree with most of the other posters here. It seems lifeless to the point of being overbearing and sad. I am wondering if people really do live this way.? At any rate, some living things like fruits, flowers, etc. would help. Whenever our Bay Area design firm designs a space, we like to include splashes of color. This could be artwork or materials and finishes used on walls, counters, floors, etc. Here is to color and wonderful design details! Lanny Danenberg

July 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLanny Danenberg

This wood with nice white chair looks so cool I need to tell you I think is a future in modern interior design!

July 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterInterior design ideas

Funny...I have the executive desk and sideboard from my father who used to be one of those men featured on the TV show, "MadMen." His office looked exactly like that. So yeah, it does look good. It did then in 1963.

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThom

My overappriciation of wood and wood paneling may be at work, but the sink is absolutely stunning!

August 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Heller

I think the decor of the ktichen sets the mood of the home and this kitchen says ghost town. While it is visually appealing I shudder to think of the stress of living in such a clutter free world.

Warm regards,

John Candolino

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKitchen Decor Nut

What I love about modern kitchens is that it's balanced, breathable and most of all the simplicity makes it even beautiful compared to the standard kitchen designs. There are no gaps actually. You can move freely around a class piece of art!

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIn Stock Kitchens

Oh, the kitchen is really modern. It looks techy in style and arrangement. In this computer age, this would surely be a favorite. I wonder what else will I see next when it comes to other designs. :)

September 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDina

I am an interior design student and this semester we are working on a kitchen design project. This design is very inspiring. What architect/company designed it?

October 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLea

Wood created a dramatic effect, but I do not prefer using that in the kitchen. You see, it's prone to moisture and water spills, so it can easily rot. On a first glance, I thought this is not a kitchen. Where's the oven?

October 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterQueenie Michelle

The backsplash has the most interesting grain. I find no balance of forms between the very horizontal backsplash cutting into the upper wood area. All this wood is like looking at a test pattern. (Unless you are a termite and can sink your visual teeth into it.) The Murphy bed looks great - if you like sleeping inside a Redwood tree. The heavy walls are too overbearing for the height of the room.
Actually, great grand parents live here with their great grand teenagers. I can tell they are old by the pottery and piece of old wood they forgetfully left out. Alsheimers, no doubt.
The room was designed with the teenagers in mind. We all know they are loath to closing doors, so there will be plenty on view of the inside of the cabinets adding color and personality to the room. The magazines always write about having contrast in a space. Meticulous lines versus disheveled foodstuff must be the epitome of kitchen design. Who needs handles when you can kick the doors closed?
Finally, its a vacation house. The bowl was found in a long forgotten cave along the beach where the driftwood washed up, and anyway, who needs an oven when you're on vacation?

January 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark Rosenhaus

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