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Monday, January 23, 2012

Kitchen Design That Provides Relief

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The first design firm I worked for was a factory outlet for a big cabinet manufacturer.  As such, they were interested more in selling boxes than creating kitchens.  So as a young impressionable designer I also became focussed on filling every kitchen I designed with as many cabinets as possible. But after visiting one such project, I was struck by just how choked the room felt with all those cabinets. There was no relief; no chance for the room to breathe.


Today I've learned that what isn't in a design is just as important as what is.  This philosophy really translates itself into kitchen design in two ways.  The first is simply about leaving wall space in a kitchen so there is relief from the visual mass of a lot of cabinets.  If you ever find yourself in the foyer of a turn-of-the-century home with lots of oak wall panelling you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Sometimes leaving a wall without cabinetry makes more of a statement than with.  And having a blank wall affords you the opportunity to personalize your kitchen with a favourite piece of art.

Often when I'm discussing this philosophy with clients, concern is expressed that by leaving out cabinetry I'll also be leaving out storage.  As I've said numerous times in this blog the kitchen is a work space first and foremost.  Sacrificing storage for aesthetics is not an option for me.  However, there are many ways to provide storage without overwhelming the room with great masses of cabinetry.

The simplest technique is to change the door style or finish of a section of cabinets to something that contrasts the primary style.  In our firm, the most common example of this is a kitchen with an island.  The perimeter cabinets are typically painted, and the island is done in a dark wood and styled to make the island appear like a piece of furniture.

Or, rather than simulating a piece of furniture there's also the opportunity to use an actual piece of furniture.  Perhaps an antique that's been in the family for generations, or just a baker's rack that allows you to keep supplies out for easy access.  The relief provided by furniture can will also add personality to your kitchen.

1 comment:

  1. Yes. When we first started thinking about the kitchen I piled cabinets everywhere, but realized that I would rather leave a lot of open space allowing me to take my time and choose one-of-a-kind pieces, armoires, buffets, antiques that will add character. You make a lot of good points here.

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