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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Entries in design (56)


Poggenpohl Kitchen Showroom

During a recent trip to London, I had the opportunity to spend some quality time at Poggenpohl’s Waterloo kitchen showroom. This London trip was arranged courtesy of Blog Tour 2011, an idea conceived by Veronika Miller, founder of Modenus, to bring design bloggers to the London Design Festival. Luckily for me, a visit to a Poggenpohl kitchen showroom was on our agenda!

Following are interesting design ideas that I spotted at the showroom – and check out the Blanco sinks!

Below, highly textured wood cabinetry paired with sleek white and stainless steel-take a look at the lucite dining chairs and glass table-cool!

poggenpohl 1

Below, I'm thinking that, after removing the third bottle of wine during dinner, this higher position of the wine refrigerator should prove to be useful!

poggenpohl 7

poggenpohl 2

Below, a crisp/tailored undermount sink and separate drainboard by Blanco. I love the look of the separate pieces and the recycling bins below are perfectly situated.

poggenpohl 8

Below, another Blanco sink and interesting countertop shapes and forms.

poggenpohl 5

blanco sink 2

Below, note the difference in countertop thicknesses - the island is thick, the opposite countertop is thin - quite interesting to change it up.

poggenpohl 3

Below, exploiting horizontal lines...

poggenpohl 9

Below, sleek white cabinetry, playing with volume...


Below, on trend neutral, flesh tone shades in textured wood juxtaposed with sleek, glossy, cabinetry.

I have more images of this beautiful showroom I will share, but in the meantime, thank you to those at the Poggenpohl Waterloo showroom for giving us such a warm welcome!


Tent London–London Design Festival

I’m here in London, fully immersed in Design Heaven! Part of the Blog Tour 2011 group care of Modenus.com and other sponsors, we are moving about London from one design exhibition to another, spending quality time at each inspiring venue.

Here’s a glimpse of some cool, kitcheny, products I’ve seen so far…

Below: Hanging light fixtures that leaves me warm and fuzzy by Kenichiro Oomori Moving Design

kitchen lamp

Below, beautifully made wooden kitchen utensils by Stovell Design

kitchen utensils

Below, awesome kitchen shelving by Studio Johnmale

kitchen shelving

Below, textured concrete tiles by Ivanka Workshop

concrete tiles

More design inspiration coming your way soon from Merry Olde England! Today, I’ll be “working” my way through 100% Design!


London Design Festival, Blog Tour 2011 and Modenus.com

The 9-day London Design Festival and all its 300 events throughout the city commences today! In a few days, I will be on a plane to London with 18 other U.S. design bloggers to do nothing but observe, learn, interact with, breathe, and talk design. I am honored to be a part of this impressive initiative to bring US design bloggers to London. The concept to sort of comingle bloggers from the US and from the UK was that of Veronika Miller, founder of the design-rich website, Modenus. In a moment, we will hear Veronika's own words, as she describes the creative thinking behind BlogTour2011.
As a kitchen design professional, I am especially grateful to be included in this group. I have paid increased attention to the world of interior design, apart from kitchen design, in recent years having taken the time (and money) to travel to many design shows and events. As the kitchen is ever more connected to surrounding rooms and products and materials from surrounding rooms are finding their way into the kitchen, it is very important to be an astute observer of what's happening in interior design today. I will look for products, materials and design concepts which can be brought into the kitchen in a seamless way to create the "flow" that connected well designed spaces have. I just cannot WAIT to take it all in!
Here is some great information about Blog Tour 2011 and its fearless leader, Veronika Miller. Oh, and Veronika? She goes to an ENORMOUS number of design shows throughout the year. She may be one of the most knowledgeable people on interior design products and materials there is and that is no exaggeration.
Events in London just on one day!1. Veronika, how and why was this idea born, to bring US design bloggers to the UK to find design inspiration? 
Blog Tour was born, as are many good ideas, over a drink and some scribbles on a paper napkin. We had just created a very successful gathering for bloggers at Arch Digest Show in NYC in March at which bloggers kept telling me that Modenus should host blogger events more often. People see us as a hub for interior design resources so it was a natural next step to create something that would boost design bloggers' visibility whilst helping Modenus report from trade shows and design exhibits with content from select groups of bloggers. 

 It was a spontaneous moment between Troy Hanson at MMPI and Modenus which resulted in such a fun and inspired concept, something with a distinctly international tinge reflecting Modenus as a platform that is based in the US and the UK. So, over a few dirty Martinis in Hell's Kitchen NYC, BlogTour was born.

2. What are your professional goals for this trip; what does success look like?

Bloggers have an opportunity to immerse themselves in design inspiration, meet international designers, journalists and peers and flex their social media muscle to show just how much buzz they can create for an event or a brand. I think it's important to show that design bloggers can be very influential and professional contributors to digital media. Many of them should absolutely be considered as media partners for larger brands or design related initiatives.

Sponsors benefit from the immense buzz created through each BlogTour group prior to every event and by actually meeting bloggers in real life at their showrooms or at one of the exciting venues we've chosen to include in our itinerary. Making a brand visible through digital and social media is, of course,  very important but making it tangible through real life relationships is vital

Modenus was launched, and has grown, exclusively through social and digital media. BlogTour is a natural extension of Modenus and, as well as everything else, has further increased the visibility and reputation of Modenus in the US, UK and around the globe.

3. The agenda is so well rounded outside of the Decorex event. How do you hope these other opportunities for design exploration will inspire design bloggers?

London Design Festival is unique in that it offers 9 days of design events which are anchored by big trade shows like 100% Design, Tent London and just after LDF, Decorex. We've covered London Design Festival for several years now and know how inspiring British design can be and how important it is to focus not only on the larger brands but on the hundreds of creative artisans and artists who exhibit independently or at smaller venues or even through pop-up shops.

Designs can be over the top and  provocative and other times just beautiful and inspired but the point is that that, in my eyes, it is in those smaller shops and venues that great design trends are born. I think bloggers will take away a lot of inspiration for future blog posts or design work and hopefully benefit from the great personal relationships they'll be able to forge while in London.   

4. I know that I, as a design blogger, welcome opportunities to get up close and personal with manufacturers' products any way that I can. It's always a learning experience. I'm curious - what are the BlogTour sponsors' expectations and plans to interact with the design bloggers in an effort to showcase new design or technology in their products? 

We are thrilled and honoured every time a sponsor steps up to join BlogTour in London or any of the tours scheduled for 2012 because it is such a new concept but we realize they are seeing the same potential we're seeing.

Some of the sponsors will indeed be meeting us at  their showrooms or at a dinner venue in order to spend some time up close and personal with our American bloggers as well as some of the UK bloggers, while others appear to be quite happy to allow BlogTour to promote their brands through Twitter and other social media outlets to help them grow their own social media following. 

 Modenus has always worked with every vendor on a customized basis to meet their marketing and budget needs and BlogTour is no different...we listen and come up with a solution that will give them the type of exposure they seek. 

 Thank you to all of our BlogTour sponsors: 

BLANCO America
Samuel Heath
Victoria & Albert Baths
Achica Living
DuVerre Hardware
Spirit of Sports


Decorate - A Book by Holly Becker of Decor8 Blog

BUY THE BOOKBUY THE BOOK!Decorate, a new book by Holly Becker of the iconic blog, Decor8, is an ambitious book (that's the word that comes to mind). There is an enormous number of images for maximum visual delight, clearly and well written text as well as the ability to quickly drill down to the essence of each chapter and core message via quotes, lists, tips, shaded content boxes and other visual aids.

I love this kind of reference material. Give me the option to read or to look quickly for information. To me, this is a useful format, or mix of formats.

I am privileged to have been quoted in the kitchen section of this book in numerous places. It is an honor to me that Holly Becker sought out my insight on the topic of kitchen design. That said, while Holly Becker is a respected and treasured blogging buddy/colleague/friend since early 2007, I have declined to review books by other design industry peers, some of whom had been colleagues of mine (past tense-unfortunately, declining to review a book costs relationships) for many years. It's lovely that I am quoted in this book, but if I did not find the book to have real value in terms of solid and quality design information, I would pass it by and not review it.

In the kitchens section, on page 148, the introductory paragraph is such an inspiring yet succinct, description of what the role of the kitchen can be in our lives. To get this philosophy right, puts anyone on the right track who is planning a kitchen renovation. 

There are countless references to personalizing the kitchen in Decorate that are truly creative. It takes some thought to be creative, which means it takes quality time. More often than not, the content that I see around the web or elsewhere which focuses on creative solutions for kitchen storage, design, whatever it is, is sorely lacking in creative thinking.

The suggestions, tips, ideas on personalizing the kitchen in Decorate, are both enlightening and fresh and are accessible to nearly everyone (perhaps with the exception of the Michael S. Smith sink for Kallista) ;) 

The sections of the kitchen chapter are sort of divided into how we live - Casual Eating, Cook's Kitchen, Built-in Storage, Urban Kitchen and others. I find that the text teaches by describing various lifestyle scenarios which helps the reader to visualize a look more completely. But, it goes even further, describing the feelings that certain creative ideas may elicit, such as mismatching china, how to design in comfort and other creative ideas. At the end of the day, when you stand at the doorway to your kitchen, it's lovely to feel the way you had hoped you would feel at the start of the process, when finally surveying the result of all that work. 

Most of the kitchens in the book are white and modern, but with personal touches, which is the point of the book. You will not find cookie cutter kitchens from manufacturers' brochures here. These are each a personal expression and illustrations of that classic design conflict of function vs. aesthetics that each of us has to reconcile for ourselves - hopefully under the guidance of a kitchen design professional who is understanding of the client's needs and desires.

I'm also thrilled that the social kitchen, a concept that I've talked about for some years, has a special section as well. The advice is there for the taking, without scolding or demanding or even nudging. It's positive and enthusiastic voice is the voice of the Holly I know and many of us are familiar with. The rest of the book? It's awesome. Decorate.


Copenhagen Design Week 

A fantastic collection of talks, exhibitions, showrooms, design tours and more, Copenhagen Design Week covered every area of both beautiful and socially responsible design. I've gone to design shows in quite a few countries including many shows in the US on a regular basis.

Honestly, I've never been so inspired, never have been so touched both personally and professionally, as I have been by attending this series of exhibitions. It was more than a design exhibition, it culminated with a reawakened design philosophy within my brain and my soul. The Index Awards, at which I was present at the Opera House, was a centerpiece of the week. Please read more about the Index Awards.

This is a very long post, but these words by the Acting CEO of the Danish Design Center touched me in a significant way, and I hope you can take 10 minutes or less to read through this piece to capture its beautiful and important meaning. In its entirety:

Thank you so much Aura/Ida Corr for the lovely song and for creating the right atmosphere.

Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen,

I offer you all a warm welcome to the Copenhagen Design Week.

For the second time, Copenhagen Design Week welcomes international designers, architects, CEOs, design managers, researchers and students to six days devoted to design.

As we kick off this week of great design events – I think three questions needs to addressed:

  1. Why design?
  2. What is design?
  3. How can design help?


Why design?

What is the importance of design? Why should we bother? What is it that design can do for you? For me? For all of us?

Society is changing and the world as we know it is slowly turning upside down. We face new challenges and opportunities. Our life expectancy is growing and so is the world population. The Western welfare systems are under pressure while the middle classes are booming in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Resources are dwindling while demand is growing and the whole economy is under reconstruction.

In short, we need to think…

The facts of the modern, global society call for action. We cannot address new challenges with traditional solutions. And we cannot wait for someone else to take action.

All of us – nations, global communities, companies and individuals – need to think – and to design new solutions for our longer and safer and cleaner lives.

It is time to design the world we want to live in, and anyone interested in form, function, shape and seduction should pay attention.


But what is design?

Magazines – and the popular belief – will tell you, that design is all about beautiful things. And this is absolutely right. Beauty lies in form and function, and beauty lies in great design…. In Jaguars and Egg Chairs, in Yves Saint Laurent dresses and Erik Magnussen’s jug. Beauty lies in intelligent solutions. Beauty lies in Novo Nordisk’s insulin pen that empowers people with diabetes. Beauty lies in the fact that they are no longer patients. But people.

Beauty lies in products and solutions that help us become better people. And design can really do that. Design can really change who we are, what we do and how we behave.

Smart phones are not making us smarter, but they are changing the ways in which we navigate and interact in our daily lives. They are changing our physical and social behaviour.

We are a designing species, and the designs we make design us in return. This basic understanding is, I believe, the central element in the Danish design DNA.

The first golden age of Danish design coincided with the building of the welfare state in the 50s and 60s. The chairs, the lamps, the cutlery, the buildings were all part of an effort to create new ways of human interaction. Danish design has always been intimately linked to our humanistic and democratic traditions: The traditions of Folk High Schools and Co-ops; the tradition of sustainable solutions and pragmatic products; the tradition of designing for the community and of social inclusion.

We are at the beginning of a second golden age of Danish Design. And this time we are not alone, because the whole world is at the beginning of a golden age of design.

Today, design is much more than styling; much more than form and function. Today design is an instrument for developing innovative, competitive and sustainable products and solutions in order to meet the complex challenges of today’s society.

A holistic grasp of the big picture is a key condition for creating meaningful design solutions.  The humanistic tradition has for decades been the basis of Danish product design, and it is now a driving force in the role of the designer in a complex world.

So, design has come to mean more than giving form; it is increasingly becoming a strategic element in innovation processes in the private as well as in the public sector. To help this process along, the Danish Government last year established the Design 2020 Committee with the vision of making Denmark a society where the use of design is integrated at all levels to improve the quality of peoples’ lives, creating economic value for businesses and improving efficiency and quality in the public sector.


How can design help?

It is very simple, really. The essence of design is thinking human. The essence of design is making products and solutions for human beings with minds and bodies and desires and aspirations and social needs and wishes.

Design is not the answer to every question we can ask. But it is my experience that if you involve designers in your search for answers, the answers will involve thinking human. Beauty lies in this.

Talk in an antique boat given by IKEA - participants on each side of center tableI am proud and happy to welcome you all to Copenhagen Design Week. The programme is full of beautiful solutions to complex challenges, and they will show us ways to a more sustainable future based on the ability and the willingness to Think Human.

Copenhagen Design Week explores and raises awareness of the impact of design, architecture and the environment on human life. In a world of constant change, design has the potential to transform ideas and social values, meet desires and needs – and, not least, create good business outcomes.

We firmly believe that Copenhagen Design Week will show us the way to a more sustainable future based on the ability and the willingness to Think Human. There is plenty of work to do – but the future starts now.

Dance with the Egg Chair at Official Opening of Copenhagen Design WeekLet me conclude by pointing out three things you cannot miss during the Design Week.

First of all - go to Kvæsthusmolen by The Royal Danish Playhouse on the Copenhagen harbor front. Here you will find the Design Zone, which is the venue for the main exhibitions during the Copenhagen Design Week.

Here you will see how design and architecture meet local and global challenges.

Secondly – Kvæsthusmolen is also the venue for the INDEX: exhibition, and you will be able to study the winning projects. The INDEX: exhibition illustrates that design has the environmental, social, and economically sustainable tools to make the world a safer and better environment for people.

And naturally, I recommend a visit to our exhibition right here, in the Danish Design Centre. The exhibition, Challenge Society, pinpoints the role of designers in solving the grand challenges of our society.

HRH Prince Frederik applauding enthusiastically after a performance at the official opening of Copenhagen Design Week (yes, he was one row in front of me!)But please be aware – that this is only a fraction of all the exciting experiences that lie ahead during the Copenhagen Design Week.

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Danish Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs and the Danish Enterprise and Construction Agency for supporting the Copenhagen Design Week.

An essential aspect of creating and carrying out an event such as the Copenhagen Design Week is to establish strong partnerships. Therefore, I would also like to give a warm thanks to our main partners: IKEA and Nokia. We deeply appreciate your financial support and your expertise on design and your contributions during the Copenhagen Design Week.

Finally, please let me offer my sincere thanks to the Copenhagen Design Week team. You make me proud.

Danish Design Center immediately following the opening of Copenhagen Design WeekI bid you all a warm welcome and encourage you to seek out some of the many exciting design experiences that Copenhagen is brimming with this week.

Now it is my huge pleasure to give the floor to Mr. Frank Jensen, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen.

After that, Tina Højlund of the Royal Ballet will perform the Egg Chair Ballet, followed by Aura, who will take us back to where we started with one of her songs.



Modern Dining At Las Vegas World Market 2011

I saw some great pieces, continuing my dining theme from Las Vegas World Market that I need to share with you. Some dining tables and chairs were simple and clean, some super innovative yet elegant, with very exciting decorative details.

Many of these sets are quite affordable. In some cases, it might be advisable to add on a glass top to protect the surface of the table. In some cases a frosted or other patterned glass top could look great and add protection. Oversized glass is also an option, which adds area for dining as well as a nice aesthetic statement.

Take a look!


Bermex Bermex Bermex Diamond Sofa Diamond Sofa Tip Top Furniture Aspen Home Temahome


Las Vegas Market Summer 2011 - Kitchen Design Interpretation

I'm here in a fabulous hotel suite in Vegas at the invitation of the Las Vegas Market as part of a small group of bloggers. Our mission is simply to walk/work/discover the Market in our own unique way. No requirements, no expectations. Ideal!

Transitions by Sigla My perspective is different than most interior designers who attend Las Vegas Market. In fact, it greatly benefits the home furnishings industry to invite kitchen designers to see the Market. As the kitchen and surrounding rooms become ever more integrated, I, for one, feel a need to understand the current state of home furnishings and design to tap into what designers are thinking and what manufacturers are creating. Of course, also perhaps to specify furniture as opposed to cabinetry in some kitchen areas, to create the look of seamless integration among surrounding spaces as well.

My eye is unique from all others, my perspective toward public rooms surrounding the kitchen is different, and following is a collection of "dots" that I connected while at Market. It was fun!

Antigua FurnitureHappiness is ... the word "happy" came to mind over and over. Living in a pleasant, easy way seemed to be a continuing theme in the furnishings I discovered. Pleasant/simple lines, fabrics, materials and PATTERNS were mostly very easy to live with, often "pretty" and had this wonderful back to basics/simple creativity that I found lovely.

The Rug Market

Lots of linen - I did not see as much gray as I did at High Point Market in the spring, although there was a good amount across all furnishings and accessories, but there were beautiful muddied beiges and lots of beige linen fabrics, that whole Belgian country vibe. A resurgence of French Country was talked about at Market as well.

Christopher Guy

Mixed Media - Experimentation with different materials in unexpected ways was interesting to see - in rugs, case goods and upholstered pieces. The effect was usually very well done in my opinion.

Saddleman's of Sante Fe

Small Scale - Definitely seen throughout Market were smaller scale furnishings across the board, in every category of furniture. Smaller scale furniture seemed to then shed excess ornamentation, allowing for simplicity and elegance in smaller sizes.


I'll share more of my impressions and inspiration from the Las Vegas Market soon! And more images. I'm very glad I went - it's great to be immersed in the design world!



Reusing Kitchen Cabinets in a New Kitchen Design

BEFORE KITCHEN PLANReusing kitchen cabinets to create a new kitchen design is both a real challenge and extremely gratifying. I've done it, albeit in an experimental way in a previous personal kitchen. In my case, it was an opportunity to try out some design ideas and at the same time hold us over until we were ready for the big remodel down the road. Here is a reader's question on the topic of reusing kitchen cabinetry:

"I read the article on reusing cabinets and there are some great tips there. You mention the fact that reusing cabinets in a new configuration can be difficult but didn't elaborate further. That is exactly what I am trying to do but need some expert advice!

I am in desperate need of a new layout in our kitchen, but our cabinets are in great shape. I have played around with the design and think I have something that will work. I am not a "handy" person so I was hoping to get some pointers on what to look at to determine if the existing cabinets could still be recycled in the new layout.

Do you have any advice on what I should do to detemine if the new kitchen design will allow for reuse of our cabinets? Or is this a project I need to get a contractor in on now to ensure they can physically do it?



Thanks for writing! The word that describes reusing kitchen cabinetry is: "puzzle." Finding the right configuration for a brand new design using existing cabinetry can be done, but it will entail very open thinking, meaning that you need to be open to new design ideas, new and different ways to add storage into your kitchen to supplement your existing cabinetry, and a good dose of positive thinking.

You will need to draw the room to scale and then the puzzle begins. An open mind will allow you to experiment with a variety of configurations. There is no absolute way to find "the" right solution. Trial and error and positive "play" in a relaxed setting is how you will find your design solutions.

Of course, you should consider where your existing cabinetry offers the best access near certain appliances and work centers. Narrow drawer cabinets will be useful near the refrigerator or sink. Wider drawer banks or cabinets with doors will be useful near the cooking area.

Watch for the size and proportion of doors and drawers. For sections which you will need to fill in with new cabinetry, do not attempt to match a new color with the old; it most likely will not work - instead, select a painted finish in a new area of the kitchen that makes sense and balances well with surrounding cabinetry.

A trained eye knows how to configure different sizes and proportions of cabinetry. My advice would be to find a local kitchen design professional who can help you on a consultation, or hourly fee, basis at least to get you a head start.

Filling in with metro shelving, curtains and furniture pieces can result in a very interesting kitchen, one which could be super chic in that bohemian/modern sort of way. I know this is true because my reused kitchen cabinetry, once transformed, was published in a national shelter magazine ... thus, the positive thinking! 



::Surroundings:: Guide to Decorative Living Kitchens Feature

Nearly under the wire in bringing you the latest issue of the Surroundings online magazine for May/June on my favorite topic, kitchens, Linda Merrill brings us some great kitchen design information in this issue.

If you don’t know Linda, I’d go so far as to say that she is one of THE hardest working, and most innovative, design bloggers. Linda not only writes the blogs: SurroundingsSilver Screen Surroundings, and Master of Your Domain, she also hosts The Skirted Roundtable and publishes her ::Surroundings:: Guide to Decorative Living digital online shelter magazine every other month. I thought I was hard working! 

Bornholm Kitchen 4In this issue, I am truly honored to be featured in Linda’s digital shelter magazine. Linda has featured me in an extensive interview and we talked abut my new collection, Bornholm Kitchen. There is no doubt that it is most gratifying to get the respect of my peers. With that as a foundation for this new product introduction (and a barometer), I feel confident about the future. Thank you Linda for this lovely feature.

I also like Linda's feature on "Appliances That Designers Love" and who doesn't love to look at Kitchen Bling, another feature in this issue? Linda does her research and does it well.

Take a look at Linda’s digital magazine and follow her in her various venues online. You will learn something – she’s a thinker on all things design focused.


Kelly's Kitchen Sync - The Book!

Kelly Morisseau, CMKBD, author of Kelly's Kitchen Sync, just released, has been a great friend, colleague and fellow blogger for many years. Kelly's new book provides a wealth of practical information and tips on all those pesky little details which make ALL the difference in a kitchen design that works for the way you live, both aesthetically and functionally, for perhaps, the next few decades or so.

I have reviewed a few books before. In one case, a long term professional relationship completely dissolved forevermore because my colleague's book on kitchen design, sent to me for review, was so far below my standard for useful (and current) information, that I felt that I could not and would not endorse it (there is no way to say that gently to a colleague, trust me on that). My memory fades on another two books that I also could not endorse, but one refusal was due to flat out inaccuracies that I easily uncovered. Point? My professional standards for information relating to the kitchen and bath industry and design process are VERY high and no, friendship does not trump endorsing what I might consider to be sub par information on kitchen design released to the public at large. I'm a bit wound tight like a lionness in that regard for some very strange reason. I know...I probably need to fix a margharita and relax. 

"Kelly's Kitchen Sync" is a good book. It's the real deal by a smart and experienced (key word) certified kitchen designer, and it offers solid information that is important to know as one navigates the universe of designing a kitchen. The information in Kelly Morisseau's book can truly enhance one's investment in one's home, often the biggest investment one makes, not to mention enhancing one's lifestyle in the kitchen.

Following are nuggets of information (every page offers valuable gold nuggets) that are not only good to know but will add a layer of detail that makes all the difference in the design process, resulting in a kitchen with a higher level of aesthetics and function, especially if one tackles the kitchen design without a professional kitchen designer (no one does that, right?) Following are snippets of good information!

"Clear as glass", page 97:

Kelly talks about mullions on glass wall cabinet doors intersecting with shelves and offers solutions to work around what can be a collision of lines which would otherwise most likely not have been noticed till...later. Four pages on glass shelves and glass doors? Impressive.

Here's just one insider tip on hardware...so simple, yet proportion and scale is the foundation behind this simple, but important, advice.

"Which is better, knob or pull, page 102:

Before you buy, check the width of both your smallest and widest drawers. Buy a few sizes and see what looks best. If your cabinet is 27" wide and the handles are 4" or less, I sometimes recommend using 2 handles, spaced 3"-5" from each side of the drawer."

 Ah yes...the insider's tips for ordering cabinetry correctly...

"Order up! The top 11 beginner mistakes of cabinetry orders (and how to avoid them)", page 81:

(One of my favorites) - "Tall cabinets, such as a 96" high x 24" deep cabinet, will NOT tilt upright in a 96" high room. It's a simple law of physics - the corner of the cabinet will strike the ceiling first."

Perhaps you get the idea - endless tips are provided throughout the book to help, yes, avoid disaster! An experienced kitchen designer has multiple solutions at the ready for nearly every situation that arises. Here, Kelly has laid the foundation for one to understand not only what those solutions are, but WHY these issues are important to know. And, she explains them in an easy going manner that is both entertaining and informative. Kelly's Kitchen Sync - the book!



Martha Stewart's Morning Living Program - 10 Tips To A Great Kitchen Design

Well, we covered a lot of territory in the chat on kitchens with Brian Kelsey (Kelsey On The House) host of Martha Stewart's Morning Living radio show on SiriusXM in which I was the guest. I know, since Brian is a lover of all things "home improvement" we could have kept the conversation going for a long time!

Here is a wrap up of ten tips for a great kitchen design:

1. How long will you be in your home? The answer to this question will guide you toward budget, style and issues of function. If you will be in your home less than 5 years - think in terms of resale and be conservative in your selections. Longer than 5 years, put more of "yourself" into the kitchen design to create a kitchen that works for you.

2. Speaking of personal design, that is surely where we are headed in recent years. Do the hard work up front to determine what is a habit and what is something you really desire in the kitchen. For example - do you want the dishwasher on the adjacent wall of kitchen because you are used to it or because you really like to use it in that position? Beware of kneejerk reactions - think carefully!

3. What is timeless? I think it is safe to say that classic wood species such as cherry, maple, and other, somewhat "quiet" grained woods in brown stained finishes are truly timeless, as they communicate a classic furniture quality. Whites as well are classic for kitchen cabinetry - who doesn't love a white kitchen?

4. How to get value? Value is received, as above, in a timeless design, in timeless products and components, in quality products which will last over time. It is a sustainable way of thinking as well.

5. What are cool products? Having been to many design shows, I can tell you that sinks with glass worktop covers to conceal the sink from an open kitchen are hot! Hardware in warm finishes and hardware that is more bulky in nature (more bang for the buck) works well in today's kitchens, and of course, hardware is the jewelry of the kitchen! A warm/modern look for the kitchen is what many people are thinking about now.

6. Appliances! Appliances are becoming increasingly concealed as the kitchen floorplan is becoming more open to surrounding rooms. Even ovens are being seen behind closed doors. Panels on appliances do the trick to disguise the function behind the cabinetry facade.

7. Social Network - The kitchen is the social hub of the house and we are seeing larger, multifunctional islands being designed into the kitchen. Easy to communicate with others and great for assisting the chef or a spot to use for entertaining purposes such as arranging wine and wine glasses on one end, islands serve endless social functions. 

8. Where to start? With so many activities happening in our kitchens, write a list of all the activities you see going on in your kitchen. What is your lifestyle? How much importance and use will certain activities take on in the kitchen? Be realistic about your lifestyle and a functional kitchen design will follow!

9. Healthy Kitchen Design - Appliances today have healthy features! Grills, steamers, steam cooking in ovens, rotisseries, filtered water in our taps, fresher refrigerator storage, induction cooking - these are some examples of how appliances can truly work to produce and enhance a more healthy lifestyle.

10. Take your time! The kitchen was not built in a day! The more time you can shed old habits and hone in on what is really important to your family "now", the better your kitchen will be aligned to the real "you." 

Below, a preliminary floorplan for an open kitchen. Cozy, social, ahhhhh!


KBIS 2011 Kitchens

I always like to walk the kitchen and bath show and take pictures of the kitchen displays. Having just been at IMM Cologne in January, the kitchen designs were dramatically different at KBIS and I MUST gather together the images I have of full size kitchen displays from the IMM Cologne show.

There is much more detail in the KBIS kitchens (that is not a positive or negative, it's in the eye of the beholder.) The first image is from an Italian manufacturer and all others are American manufacturers - the style contrast is clear!

My opinion: in some cases, more is not better. Restraint is a good thing...less is more and all that. We also need to remember that we will have reactions to these different styles and there is a kitchen design for everyone, just like there is a guy for every girl and vice versa. Enjoy!


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KBIS 2011 - Kitchen Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas

Merrilat KitchenFresh from walking the show floor of KBIS (Kitchen Bath Industry Show) held in Las Vegas, following is an overview of my impressions of what's new, what's trending and why. 


The kitchen and bath show (KBIS) was smaller than last year, three years after the financial crisis, which was quite surprising to me and to other veteran industry attendees I spoke to. Those who attended their first, second, or even third KBIS, have no concept of how different a show KBIS has become since before 2009 (I've gone for about 20 years now.) To see the show even smaller this year, and the booths stretched out (wider aisles, etc.)  within the exhibit hall to achieve a perceived "fit", was obvious and a bit disconcerting, 3 years after 2008. 

Exhibit booths for major brands were drastically smaller, in probably all cases, often with little adornment (thank you Formica for a smallish but fabulously designed booth.) And, countless major national brands simply disappeared from the show floor this year. KBIS is a shadow of the show it used to be. The show program (a sort of soft cover book of conference schedules and exhibitor list) tells the story too -geez, was it small!!

That said, I would never not go. It (the basis of the show) is my world, the one I reside in every day. How can I not go? So, I go, and I'm still genuinely very excited to attend every year. Good for those companies who did display...I assume due to the show's size, they had quality visitors to their booths.


Without further ado, here are the major trend messages observed from the show floor! Visual examples will be forthcoming in future posts.

It's all about BROWN undertones - the whole spectrum from light, mid tones to coffee - brown finishes and often gray browns (more brown than gray) dominate cabinetry, new countertop introductions, tile, more. Black, at least in cabinetry, and white (as always), are in the mix....black as the new (yet classic) neutral for cabinetry?

Transitional cabinet door styles, the shaker door in various forms, and the soft modern style or a more simple traditional theme, was a focus for the kitchen and bath

Technology focused on quiet, soft, easy access, ergonomic design solutions for cabinetry

Multimedia - products mixing disparate materials for a fresh design statement...the theory that interesting texture can be a small price to pay here and there in the context of the cost of a whole kitchen remodel

Sinks - seamless integrated sinks and countertop solutions and sinks designed to perform multiple functions including doubling as counter space

Budget - Many manufacturers introduced a lower priced line or moved/modified existing products into a lower price point to provide expanded choices to their customers. Even luxury brands such as Artistic Tile, Corian, Dacor and others have discovered and introduced new ways to make their products affordable. This is an across the board trend and seen in product design with a focus on style, durability and longevity.

Tile - Tile is getting smaller and longer lengths in many cases with newly introduced high def imaging to create a truly authentic look. Many/varied glass accents. Tile continues its style story in the kitchen with softer/simple, often mosaic, designs that encompass expanded areas in the kitchen beyond the backsplash for a look that flows (example, surrounding a window to the ceiling)

Lighting innovations continue to focus on led and substitutes were shown for the typical incandescent light bulb design but with energy efficiency built in. Task and accent lighting keeps getting smaller and more flexible in terms of installation and design (lighted tile in a backsplash anyone?) even color of lighting available.

Cabinet hardware is focusing on additional warm finishes and styles with more visual weight to make a statement (bang for the buck theory and a good one). More soft modern styles and styles which are very modern, projecting significantly off the cabinet for its own statement, are trending. I also observed this in Germany in January at IMM Cologne.

Green - An effort to "go green" but not as prominant an effort as I've seen previously

Color - I did see quite a few products of neutral shades which had a soft green undertone, sort of a gray green. Otherwise, color, in its bold form, was hard to find! I observed it in pockets, certainly not as a dominant theme at the show.

Innovation? Not so terribly much this year as compared to other years. More repositioning/tightening of existing product lines and thinking more creatively in terms of budget products...which of course, is good news to many, many Americans, making the kitchen design process fun again for lower budgets.

This is my preliminary (but well thought through) report. After looking more closely at my 800 images, I may add additional thoughts. More to come!!


Autokitchen 10 - Amazing Graphics, Smart Design

As gushed noted previously in this blog, I have been, and remain, captivated by the visual poetry of, yes, the graphics of Autokitchen! (Going to KBIS? Autokitchen will be at booth C4990.)

Some time ago, my eye and my brain got married to Autokitchen. The brain put it this way: “This program is relatively easy to learn, is fast, and has every part and piece I need to create as simple or as custom a kitchen as I need without skipping a beat.” The eye felt this way: “The graphics are simply to DIE for!” A happy marriage (cue the white picket fence).

Enter the next generation, Autokitchen 10 (do you love this analogy so far?) The next generation often has it better than the previous generation and this is no exception. Here are some of the attributes of Autokitchen 10:

A new mosaic collection from New Ravenna (stunning tile)

Several new collections of wood carvings including Art for Every Day, Classic Designs by Matthew Burak and Adams Wood Products

New architectural tools to create even more professional architectural drawings, including new, impressive, dimension styles

Many new appliances, door styles and countertop materials

This week Autokitchen is releasing the catalogs for Wood Mode /Brookhaven and allmilmo – that’s big!

These are strong new additions to Autokitchen, already the leader in high quality kitchen design software. The color graphics of the program are outstanding. Floorplans, elevations, and perspective drawings are detailed, with a crisp, architectural look.

On a personal note, I tell my children more than they want to hear that a secret to life is to think flexibly. Autokitchen thinks so too - it allows a designer to go with the flow with enormous flexibility to modify cabinetry on the fly and/or to draw and extrude shapes into 3d objects FAST. It's reliable and the technical support, from my own personal experience, is a notch above top notch, maybe two; you will receive superb and friendly service.

Two versions of the Autokitchen Studio version begin at $995 and software prices are on the website; affordable and price transparent. 

What I am REALLY excited about is my forthcoming affiliation with Autokitchen and my new collection, Bornholm Kitchen. Our partnership will allow Bornholm Kitchen designs to be brought to life as only Autokitchen can do. Soon, I will give you a few sneak peeks of our exclusive new designs for our web retailers 2Modern and Avolli.com. For now, take a look at these images by Autokitchen... (Going to KBIS? Autokitchen will be at booth C4990.)



Appliance Spotting At IMM Cologne - The Living Kitchen

As anyone who has even remotely followed European kitchen design knows, appliances are virtually engineered into the most seamless fit within cabinetry to create as seamless a look as humanly possible.

To me, built in appliances are a special type of beauty to behold. It's sculptural, often a look of architectural permanance in the home and the design just flows. But, it's certainly not all about appliances being built in...some of the coolest appliances were freestanding or top mounted.  Let's take a look at some appliance awesomeness.

Below, Liebherr's experiment with texture-I was told it was a concept

Below, a sleek built-in Gaggenau oven...just fits in there so snugly!

Below, a very cool downdraft fan that glows - I did not get the name of this appliance, but I'll attempt to find out and report back!

Below, I just loved the knobs of this Siemen's cooktop...enjoy!

Below, love the stacked, super built in Miele ovens, don't you?

Below, an elegant drop in gas cooktop by Foster

Below, how about this curved range by Lofra

Below, uber built in cooktop in stainless steel by Bora - note the flush installation

Below, sexy built in Miele ovens once again!

Below, I really love this cooktop by Foster that is a long span of one cooktop wide, front to back

This is pure eye candy (at least for me!) I like many of the details. I have more appliances to show, which I will, soon! Much more to come from the IMM Cologne Living Kitchen show in Germany, especially the fantastic design of kitchens and furnishings...not to mention the displays within the exhibits!