Unique and practical ideas make better kitchens.
That’s always been a basic belief of mine and a reason I continue to save detail photos. For this kitchenista, it’s all about ideas that go click, which is the same passion that prompted me to assemble the original “Kitchens We Love” album as the basis of this blog. I’m not ideological when it comes to style. I save anything that interests me. Even if many of us aren’t turning up our doing dials right this second, it’s nice to tuck inspiration photos into a maybe-one-day file.
A lucky English client of designer Geoffrey Bradfield’s has a kitchen in an old house [top] with windows in back that create a solarium effect. I’ve seen many old brownstones in Chicago renovated in this same way — a favorite is shown in the Indoors-Outdoors Kitchens. Bradfield made this one cozy and open by adding easy chairs upholstered in ’60s-era shocking pink. Most people would try to wedge a dining table in there, or be more knee-jerk with wicker.
Built-in Booth with Storage Drawers
Built-in kitchen seating lost its appeal it ultimately became inflexible. Perhaps my fondness for built-in upholstery in kitchens stems from the red-leather booth my parents built in our very first house. I still remember the safe feeling of clambering in there next to my Mom while she listened to the radio. This cozy set up is perfect for breakfast and cleverly provides space for storage below.
Disguising a Window with Shelves
An awkwardly placed, low window can go from deficit to asset by building out a cabinet below and adding shelves to be used for display or plants. Here, traditional wood shelves with brackets ramp up the charm but a more modern treatment easily could be devised.
A fancy screen door, with Victorian detailing, gives a walk-in pantry the proper peek-a-boo effect that feels right for a beach house or cottage-style kitchen.
China Storage Niche
Modern, open-plan houses now often incorporate built-ins adapted from the American Federal style. In a traditional home, this elaborately bracketed plate rack and shelf storage would likely be consigned to a corner cabinet in a dining room. Here it’s set into a modern niche (note the absence of molding) that faces the dining area as a transitional point in a large room combining two functions. It’s interesting to see the origin preserved in the historical green color. While I suspect this to be a Crown Point showroom photo, it makes a great point.
Decorative Upper Cabinet Bracket
Brackets beneath upper cabinets are purely decorative these days and range from elaborate to very simple. The graceful arc of this C-shape brace has a refinement that lends itself to the shade of pale blue often seen in 19th-century milk glass.
Adjustable Open Shelves
Base cabinet storage breaks down to the hide-in vs the show-it-off camp. Hide-it people like doors while the show offs love open shelving. Count me in the second category along with Madame Martha, whose much-photographed, gray lower cabinets are built with expensive but highly desirable, horizontal zig-zag runners that allow for incremental adjustment of shelf height. This shelf adjustment style — borrowed from fine libraries – kicks the kitchen cabinet cost up a few notches.
Storage Space vs. Cabinet Filler
It’s not always possible to be as clever as my friend Leena was at the end point of her base cabinets. But kitchen designers of the world should take note of the way she used this 3-inches for highly functional tray and cutting board storage instead of turning it into the usual dead space, stopped up with filler.
Concealed Island Outlets
Designers often like to make stone counters flush with the face of the island base. In this kitchen built for a Napa Valley cooking pro Susie Heller, Carrara marble on the mammoth 12 x 5-foot island has a slight overhang that conceals plug mold all around – allowing for electrical appliances to be used anywhere and everywhere. Talk about wired. Shallow drawers, used exclusively for knife storage, are lined with cutting mats.
Soapstone Sink with Runnels
Your grandma’s drainboard might have looked just like this custom-made double-basin soapstone sink mounted underneath a matching counter. This counter has what’s called a negative reveal — which means the counter actually extends slightly over the inside edge of the sink all around. That makes the runnels, or grooves channeled into the stone angle, act like mini waterfalls when dishes are drained.