The Kitchen Designer

Random Kitchen-ness!

I'm sorry I haven't been around! My head has been moving in other directions...moving from one client to another plus a bunch of other work related stuff.

So much to say, I'll never say it all! One thing I can say very enthusiastically... I find this to be the best time in a very, very long time, that, really, all the kitchens I am working on are interesting, aesthetically challenging, and all kinds of other good stuff. I'm loving my work. I'm enjoying my clients. I'm really revved about all of what I'm working on!

Let's take Grace. As I said, we installed most of the kitchen and Grace decided, after some time, that she just didn't love one section of the kitchen. And, she wanted to design an entirely new and different wall (in the upper section, the base cabinets would stay). Luckily, what she decided NOT to use was not a large financial loss. So, I came up with another plan, which Grace loves. The left side of the elevation is opposite the dining area, the right side, opposite the main kitchen area.

What's the message here? I think it is, that if you can't live with something, and you're willing to change it....change it. Don't freak out. Go with the flow and see where it takes you. The answer is different for everyone. This will be ordered shortly. New%20Wall%201.jpg

Here's something else I'm working on for another client. It's just one small wall of a BIG kitchen, a Kosher kitchen. I think it's cool.  oven%20wall%202a.jpg


















And, one more random note, not really about kitchens, that's why it's random! Run over the Surroundings where a contest is about to begin for a very cool lamp. Free is good, contests are fun, and you really should check out Surroundings in any event! The lamp is from the Jonathon Adler collection.

Be back real soon, I've missed blogging and think of it every day, it's just been hectic!

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

A Computer For Me, A Computer Fo...

No, I'm not giving away computers! I just got a new one yesterday. My very smart son, in college (he just got a 102 on an Economics Test-good job!) told me NOT to get a computer for the $4,000+ I was going to spend, as recommended by my local computer guy. I have a local computer guy because my son, Matt, lives in the city, too far away to respond quickly to my computer issues when they arise.

Matt said, hold everything, he'll build me one!

Matt has been working on computers since he was 12. Matt is also frugal cheap. He is obsessed with doing research to find the best product, part, piece, whatever, at the VERY best price. Matt, being frugal cheap, looked up the specifications of a few of the programs I use most, spoke to people at tech support behind the programs and determined that even though I wanted the best/fastest/ultimate, he reminded me that he could save me money and still make me a computer that was FAST but customized to my specific needs. Above all, Matt knew I wanted FAST. I told him 50 times.

This new computer is fast, AND, I saved WELL over a thousand dollars, probably closer to $2,000 as compared to, say, a Dell! How? Matt tells me that, using Dell as an example, purchasing the same parts, such as memory, at specialty computer stores, is a fraction of the cost of what Dell charges. The same goes for all the other parts and pieces in a computer. The markup is CRAZY.

Would you like to save money too? Matt is now taking orders for new computers and computer tech work in Manhattan! Very reasonable prices and I can tell you he gives great customer service!

Get in touch with Matt at: mserra (at)

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

Top Ten Secret Kitchen Design Ti...

DSCF4158a.jpgDo you think lighting is boring? Do NOT touch that mouse...I promise to totally excite you with these tips, ideas, and whatever, about lighting your kitchen. Here we go... (come on, get ready, settle down!) These are quick, useful, and un-boring ideas, like take-out from the gourmet food store. Maybe not ALL you need to know, but close!

1. Let's talk style! Lighting is jewelry, end of story. Think of it as such. It says something, a big something. Whatever you want it to say, it says it, and says it loudly. Do you want to pick something safe? It will say safe. Do you want style that's "out there"? That's your message. What's the point? Take your fixtures' design SERIOUSLY please...put TIME into choosing your lighting jewelry.

2. Pendants - hang 'em LOW! Low is cozy. Low is dining table-like. Low is cool. If your mother tells you they are too low, you know they're close to perfect, and maybe a little bit lower will do. If your contractor says they're too low, lower them two feet! (I'm joking, no cards and letters please.) :)

And, no, you need not worry as much as you think you need to worry, about the fixtures bumping your head. See? I knew you were thinking that!

Trend-5.jpg3. Pendants - hang 'em HIGH! Some pendants look okay hung high, and they would be wider/bigger/fatter fixtures, please, not the small ones hung high. Please! They will look lost, or worse, insignificant. I can think of lots more adjectives of an unfortunately negative nature for small pendants hung high!





4. Pendants - hang 'em close together! They do not have to be hung 3' apart (yawn) over the island. Put a few close together, especially on a smaller island.  Where you'd normally put 2, put 3 closer together.

5. Does the island have a seating area? Put two different types of fixtures on the island...pendants on the work part, a larger fixture to feature the seated part.

6. Mix your metals, finishes, it with care, I don't want the lighting police banging on your door, but get creative with complementary styles and color.

DSCF4181a.jpg7. Don't forget the dimmers!

8. Recessed lighting - Save the planet and use CFL (flourescent fixtures)

9. Recessed Lighting - There are two schools of thought...the recessed lighting plan is either a) equally spaced in a logical grid type pattern (watch the swiss cheese effect-too many lights) or b) positioned over certain elements without a strict grid pattern. Give thought to which you prefer, keeping in mind if a light is off center close to a featured cabinet, it could look like a mistake. Take care in your planning. Me, I usually look to see what features are important in the kitchen, and sometimes use a particular feature as a starting point and then move off from that, like the hood, for example. Then, of course, get ready to do it all over again once the electrician says, "lady, there's a beam in the way!"

10. Under cabinet (not under counter as it is typically called) lighting - LED lighting is PERFECT for this application. Look it up, and again, save the planet. It is crazily energy efficient!

Bonus #11 - Trusty Wendy, from the comments section reminded me about sconces! Yes, sconces are very wonderful in the kitchen. I have two kitchens at the moment where I brought sconces into the design from the beginning, and an interior designer on the project said "Sconces? I like it!" They are flanking the window in each case, but don't stop there... 

There, wasn't that fun? I had a great time! 


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

More From The Architectural Dige...

Here is more good stuff I saw at the show...let's look at tables. Tables send such a strong message about who lives in the home. Modern, traditional, formal, informal, textured, smooth, light, dark, light, heavy...these are just a few of the decisions one needs to make when contemplating the table in the context of the room and the home. Tables can also be a functional piece of artwork, and I am finding more and more, manufacturers are building and designing in practicality in terms of being able to refinish scratches, when they occur, which they will.

asia%20design%20studio.jpgHere is a lovely table. It IS a piece of art, at least to me. The table is made by the Asia Design Studio.  Designed by Na Winn, a talented Vietnamese artist.







I like City Joinery. I'm also a fan of the name. Made in Dumbo, they have a wildly smooth finish on their wood pieces, allowing the wood to be enjoyed, every piece of grain, pigment, characteristic. They make some great tables. I was also told that it's quite easy to touch up the finish when desired, or when scratches occur. The finish was flawless, yet, they tell you not to be afraid to do touch ups. I like that.

ericmanigian.jpgI also liked Eric Manigian's work. His work is very organic in its look and feel. Manigian designs with longevity in mind, and his pieces come from a small group of millers who provide him with wood from discarded or fallen trees. His designs are of a minimalist nature. After all, with wood as beautiful as this, with all its rugged beauty, that's really all you need.

Next...a slideshow of more, interesting, picks from the show.

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

Kitchen Ideas At The Architectur...

Lucky for me...New York is at my doorstep, so I must take advantage of special events when I can. I really looked forward to the Architectural Digest Home Design Show, featuring "the best in home furnishings from nearly 300 exhibitors" as the press release says. Last year, they say 23,000 people attended over four days...and it's not such a big space, so with an eye on the clock, we (me and Steve-my husband aka "Show Dog") got there at 10 am, when it opened.

When I go to design shows that are not kitchen-centric, sometimes kitchen items, like major appliances, are displayed or a few cabinet companies here and there. I don't really stop at those exhibits. What I think is more interesting are other manufacturers which are NOT necessarily kitchen focused. It allows me to look beyond the "typical' world of products manufactured for the kitchen and bath industry, maybe to find a use IN the kitchen of a product which was designed for elsewhere in the home.

In general, I observed lots and lots of natural woods, and other natural motifs and materials. The characteristics of wood, its grain, knots, multi colors, is prevalent in this show. Lots of white, too, some black, really, a little bit of everything. More modern style than traditional, for sure. Nature, I'd say, was the star.

Here are some random finds that I'd like to show you.  

natalieblake.jpgFirst are some beautiful tiles I found, by Natalie Blake. They are very large, and quite irregular. They are more wall art than kitchen tiles, but I think one or more of these tiles could be beautifully framed around a backsplash of another material. This is an image of a tree, encompassing many tiles, but individual tilse can be pulled out from this and other motifs to stand on their own. Approximately $325 each.





french%20design.jpgFrench design is exquisite, no? I've begun to dream more seriously about going to Paris (I've not been there before) and was delighted to see the beautiful French antiques from Ghislain  Antiques, in Paris, and in Stamford, Connecticut, just down the road. Beautiful metal cabinets, perfect for kitchen pantry storage, stools, tables, can be lovely in the kitchen, no doubt. 






Another tile, imported from Italy by Wayne Tile. Situated in the back of a display against the wall, in the shadows, I found some tile I really liked for the floor, walls, anywhere.  it is named Scandinavian Mesh, but that's not why I liked it! It's soft, yet textured, a perfect warm modern tile. To me, it appears to be quite elegant.







7.jpgAnd, last, for now, I'm pretty crazy about these wall panels. What an idea! They can go anywhere. They are made in the form of columns, arches, and panels. I don't know about maintenance behind a backsplash, for example, but I do think it could be interesting to have glass in front of a panel with bolts holding the glass to the stone.  Look at the many textures and colors. Very cool. Barnell Stone.

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago
Certified Kitchen Designer