The Kitchen Designer

My Chat With Martha Stewart Toni...

I bet that title got your attention! But, it's TRUE! Tonight my husband (the #1 Martha Stewart fan...our whole family calls her his girlfriend) and I went to Times Talks, tonight, a week's series of lectures by celebrated thinkers in the arts, media, politics, and more, organized by The New York Times and held in their new facility in their new, green, building in, where else, Times Square! We're in our city apartment for the weekend, a nice break!

Stewart was interviewed by Kim Severson, a very engaging and funny, New York Times food reporter. Martha Stewart talked about her typical day (breakfast is hot water and lemon (in the car on the way to the city), blueberries, and a hard boiled egg white.) After the morning shooting of her show, she stops all work for one hour, to do yoga and regroup for the second half of the busy day ahead, and ends the day watching David Letterman.

After the talk, there was a Q&A period. I had a question for Martha Stewart. I got up to the microphone and asked Martha Stewart if she had a hands on approach in designing her kitchens. Stewart replied that she has designed her kitchens by herself and was very enthusiastic about her love of the kitchen! Where the sinks should be, appliances, counter space, she knows what she wants.

Martha Stewart also said she really likes the convenience and accessibiity of open shelving. She said that the kitchen is the most important room in the home, even more important than the bedroom. She loves the kitchens that are designed in her KB homes developments.

Mistakes? I heard of one. Martha Stewart made her island in her East Hampton home too big, yet it was useful nonetheless. 

After the talk, there was a book signing, and my husband bought two books, Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook, and a cookbook, which I'll update you on tomorrow. How lucky am I? My husband likes to keep a nice (and clean) home, it's a natural for him. A spray bottle and paper towels on the cover, he wants Martha's secrets! Stewart signed both books.

Oh, and when I introduced myself before my question and mentioned I write a blog, Stewart asked for the blog's name. I gave it to her at the book signing. Ms. Stewart, you're welcome to comment to this post!  It was a great evening! :)  

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

New Kitchen Chic - Boho Modern

I've been really busy recently working on my clients' kitchens. Deadlines of all sorts are always looming it seems, As a result, I've been remiss in bringing my readers beautiful and interesting kitchens! But, this blog is part of me and will not be denied attention! It tugs at me when I think about something or see something I find important in the process of kitchen design/remodeling, or information that is fun, or interesting that I have to share.

In that vein, yesterday, I think it was, or the day before, I was looking through interior design blog, decor8, which I often do to experience the VERY interesting "voice" of Holly, decor8's author,  Long story short, I was transfixed for a good hour (sorry, clients!) reading, thinking, analyzing, her words about a new look, feeling, focus, of interior design styling that decor8 feels is here, very much alive and moving forward. Holly calls it Boho (Bohemian) Modern.

At first glance, below, one could almost conjure up the words "shabby chic" but SC it isn't. Boho Modern mixes old and new, yet, it's more than "eclectic." Boho Modern is more born out of a deeper self expression, a confidence to style one's home with more personal conviction and personal focus as opposed to blindly (key word, here) following trends and/or images of interiors that manufacturers "suggest."

Anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows that I strongly encourage my readers and my clients to be much more personal in the kitchen in regard to styling, bringing in collections and (living room) artwork, sculpture, whatever. And, then, changing pieces as desired, not to think of the accessorization of a kitchen as being "done." Likewise, with cabinetry. So many possibilities, ideas, ways to mix pieces and on and on. The kitchen is the last bastion in the home that really needs to be kicked up about ten notches with the purpose to express one's self in this VERY soulful room. Sort of a paradox, actually.

Please take some quality time to read this post along with the comments (another gold mine of information.) Read this post as well, and the comments, more from Holly in the comments too. Great stuff. Here's MY interpretation of Holly's words in regard to Boho Modern kitchens. Have fun!!

Images from the fabulous Vakre Hjem & Interior (their website is down) and the last two images from Bo Bedre, always a favorite.




Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Blogging For Kitchens

Here is some really great kitchen info found in some of my favorite blogs!

An interesting take on working appliances into surrounding storage comes from Materialicious. I can see these pieces in a small second home, a cabin or cottage, when you just need the basics, but you want some style, or, naturally, in an urban apartment setting. Cool!

From Janet at Remodelista, something brand new, a 36" wide horizontal access dishwasher from Smeg. I love to see new ways to do the same task, and the innovations just keep coming in recent years.

My friend, Kelly, from Kitchen Sync, talks about very practical issues regarding challenges in the remodeling process. We know there must be one or two, right?

And, starting the New Year off green, K+BB Green's Friday's links. An interesting selection it is, too.


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

2008 Kitchen Trends - Banquettes

thin%20cushion%20banquette089.jpgThe next trend to talk about, for kitchens in 2008, as identified by Better Homes & Gardens,  in a trend report, sent to kitchen and bath designers, is the banquette. BH&G says they can accommodate a varying amount of people, they allow increased room for the dining area in the space, and create an intimate feeling in the space. They also site the ability for storage in the cabinetry configuration as a real plus. Image by BH&G.

My Take: I do agree. I've been doing more banquettes than ever! That said, my clients have wanted banquettes more frequently as a result of a simple idea I had for a "better banquette" This "better banquette" concept makes so much sense, yet, I hardly ever see it done.

First, let's give the old banquette with the 2" cushion a proper funeral, perhaps a joyous, and respectful, jazz funeral, as it's had a real long run in the world of built in (uncomfortable) seating! R.I.P.

The better banquette, taking its place, is about comfort!

Start with a much shorter cabinet height, approximately 14-15" or so. Typically, a standard cabinet height for a banquette is 18" high. Then, you have a 2" cushion. Out with the 2" cushion! What is far better is a 4-5" cushion. Make the cushions like a sofa cushion....comfortable, yet supportive. The word I use repeatedly is "cushy."

banquette.jpgA much thicker cushion will dramatically improve your, your family's and your guests' experiences and enjoyment at the dining table. Not only that, but, a thick, comfy, cushion will be a magnet for everyone to sit at, not the last choice. You'll want to prop up a pillow behind you with a laptop, pick up your feet and stretch out. It will become a first rate comfort zone. Your family and guests will linger and will be much more relaxed. I would like to have made the cushion in the image another inch thick, had I ordered it, but it's much better than the typical cushion.

I cannot advise you on what should go into the cushion, I'd love to have an interior designer stop by and shed some light on that. I only know that comfort trumps an uncomfortable seating area by miles!

Other than that, you can fit more people into banquettes when you need to. That's real versatility. Space in the room is clearly saved, often, an important factor. Storage is a plus, but should not be the driving force to design a banquette. And, banquettes look great in general...I love the "built-in" look. It makes a dining area have more importance, more architectural interest, in the right situations. Lots of great decorative opportunities.

IS it a trend? It may be, but I don't see it as a trend which may (ever, really) go "out." It's a fresh idea that can work well aesthetically and functionally in the home, thus, to me, it is less of a trend than a good idea in many situations. I wouldn't worry about this being "trendy." I don't see the negative way.

For me, it's really all about putting my feet up and hanging out for a bit in the kitchen. Think comfort!

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

2008 Kitchen Trends - Lighting

Having just talked about 2008 kitchen trends, I received a little booklet in the mail from Better Homes & Gardens, just for kitchen and bath professionals, all about 2008 kitchen trends. Allow me to give you their predictions, and my comments.  Actually, I think I'll do one trend per post, otherwise this post will be way too long! First up:


uploaded-file-37227BH&G says forget about lighting for the sake of function alone. Done, boring, over. The trend is for highly decorative (and functional) lighting anywhere and everywhere. Accent lighting, and decorative lighting fixtures, whether for task or general lighting purposes, will be designed into kitchens with more frequency this year.

My Take: I do agree. I'm seeing my clients paying more attention to my lighting ideas and suggestions (I almost always do a lighting plan) and being receptive to more and varied types of lighting in general. They seem to now get that lighting creates moods, it can change functional areas into more dressed up areas, and can create a variety of looks.

My Recommendation: When doing a lighting plan, let the type of lighting guide the type of fixture. Under cabinet lighting can easily be done with "green" LED fixtures, for example, as well as accent lighting, inside cabinets, as another example. Recessed lighting is a good foundation for general lighting and can be installed using flourescent lamps. Use dimmers, too, to save energy and create effects. Be aware of how much lighting you really need and where/how the lighting should be switched to conserve energy. 

To get started, understand that there are/can be three types of lighting in the kitchen: general (often, ceiling mounted lighting), task lighting (under wall cabinets, over an island, under a hood, over a sink), and accent lighting (lighting to feature a hutch, artwork or other decorative area.)

And, yes, have some fun with interesting lighting fixtures:

  • Hang several together at different heights
  • Use bright colors
  • Use interesting shapes
  • Hang pendants closer together than usual to have several appear as "one"
  • Be aware of lighting in stores, hotels, restaurants, other public places for fresh ideas
  • Add sconces that you would normally put in other rooms...they look great surrounding windows
  • Mix styles (carefully) and finishes
  • Ask yourself if you want the lighting fixture to stand out or blend in?
  • Be green and seek out antique lighting fixtures

Trend Or Good Idea? It may be a trend, but it's also a good idea in general. The principles of this 2008 trend have been present in professionally designed electrical plans for years. It is a trend in which eco friendly fixtures can play a part too. One can also follow a general design trend if desired and later, change a fixture in favor of another look. Here is an example of a preliminary lighting plan I did (below.) Let there be light!



Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago
Certified Kitchen Designer