The Kitchen Designer

Kitchen Design - Less Is More

I came across this picture of a kitchen, again, in Veranda magazine, designed by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz. I immediately liked it.

This kitchen goes more under the heading of "highly stylized" rather than "highly personal". More "showcase", less "high end catalog". And, that said, it's a viable look. Glam meets function meets texture. There was no other image of the working part of the kitchen.

I like the variety of elements, but what I like more is the strength, yet, restraint. I need to continue to explain to my clients that less is more. Fewer, larger, shapes and forms will enlarge a space as opposed to many, smaller, pieces, door sizes, accessories, etc. This is not a good vs. bad evaluation, simply an observation and another way to design a kitchen. The look is simple and elegant, so that the individual pieces say something meaningful yet are linked together in other ways, perhaps in color or tone, if not style

Here, my eye sees a variety of styles:

utility (stainless refrigerator)

rustic (dark wood island)

glamour (beaded hood)

something hip/fun (plexiglass chairs)

elegance/sophistication yet modern (prints on wall)

modern/sleek yet textural (floor)

contrast (floor and walls)

There are common threads among these elements which tie one disparate piece to another and it's fun looking for them.  I'm actually pretty crazy about this kitchen, although I'd probably want to change the prints to something A BIT more personal...give me that. But those chairs...what a WOW!

One question that comes to mind is, what came first, or simultaneously? Was the flooring color picked first, knowing that those chairs would be used, which relate to the walls in terms of tone? Was the big picture seen from the start, or were pieces brought in, to build on the previous concept. How were the layers developed? It appears to me that there was a desire to have a strong foundation first and foremost, as seen in the flooring and the island being similar tones. Other than that, it's hard to guess.

What do you think??

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

Kitchen Flooring II - Still Ligh...

I've been meaning to show you this picture of another light floor. I simply love the feel of the light floor and the light cabinetry.

I like the horizontal dark element of the counters and I like the "important" or strong, feeling of the island in wood. 

The island, to my eye, does not overpower the other light colored elements. The reason it looks balanced to me is that there is so much MORE light colored elements in the room, balanced with just a few areas of the dark color. In other words, it makes sense proportionately in regard to color and tone balance. 

I also think this image goes a long way toward being serene, don't you? It has great interest, yet it is easy on the eyes and looks very spacious. The light floor, walls, and cabinetry, and understated backsplash, go a long way to achieve this quiet elegance. 

The floor...I think this type of floor, being quite textured, is fine in terms of being "busy enough" so you don't see every crumb immediately (unless you bake a lot of brownies.) The recent popularity of super dark wood floors is no better for spots, dings, dust, and so on. The best floor is a medium tone. But, to me, something REALLY speaks to me about a light floor. And, yes, for me, it would have to be textured. I'll have one, one day, in some form. This floor is limestone by Walker Zanger. Yes, limestone needs sealing and nervous care. I'm usually a conservative type, so I do not recommend it.

As seen in the June issue of Veranda.

What do you think of this combination of tones?



Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

Attention NYC Kitchen Remodelers

This Old House is coming to New York City...get your submissions in by July 4! They're looking for an historic home and a dynamic family. I nearly messed it up and said historic family and dynamic home! This Old House NYC

Anyone from New York City who has a fabulous kitchen renovation? HGTV is looking to shoot a commercial on Monday, the 7th of July! Email me your info and I'll pass it on.

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

Over The Range Microwave - My Lo...

ge%20mw.jpgIt's funny...I looked through my project images, and I think I knew right away that I didn't have an image of a project I'd designed with an over-the-range microwave. I may have used this type of microwave a handful of times, possibly many, in builder projects I've done, but, I've always had a huge bias against them...and I bought one yesterday!

Let me just make it simple and do a pros and cons evaluation:


1. A space saving appliance. For an apartment-sized kitchen, it's no less than a God-send.

(I honestly cannot think of another "pro" to the over-the-range microwave...geez.)


1. It is typically situated at an uncomfortable height. If one is short in height, or a child, it can be difficult to reach in and out.

2. Along with #1, of course, comes the possibility of danger, first, if the container becomes hot, and one is taking it out at this uncomfortable height, but also, if there are items cooking on the stove and one reaches for the microwave. Take care!

3. If the microwave cannot be ducted out, the fan is nearly useless, as it becomes a recirculating fan.

4. Most microwaves are approximately 12" deep, which only cover the rear two burners if the ducted fan is turned on.

5.  The typical 300 cfm fan capacity is a poor performer in terms of ventilating power.

6. Due to the height of the microwave, very tall pots pose a problem in cooking comfortably, including being able to see the contents of the pot.


I mentioned the reasons that I bought one of these in this post. It's definitely a love/hate thing, I'm sure, for many of us.  Image is from GE, which has a whole lot of choices in microwaves. Kelli, in a comment from the original post mentioned, asked, "What's the alternative?"


1. Do you REALLY use a microwave, do you really need one? A good question to ask, in general. 

2. Can you find any other space to build in a microwave? If built in, remember, you must have a trim kit for proper ventilation around the appliance.

3. Can you simply place the microwave (perhaps a small one) on the countertop?

4. Check out GE's Trivection range...not a microwave, but a speedy oven, with microwave technology inside.

5. Perhaps a microwave drawer?

6. Are you rich? Buy a TurboChef.


Much of this discussion depends on if the kitchen is being designed from scratch, or, simply, as in my case, a space is open, and now that space will be filled again with this type of microwave. I can deal with this solution for now.


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

Microwave Must See

Have you seen this LG microwave, below? It came out last year. I did not cover it in this blog, and I rarely have a need for over-the-range microwaves in my design practice, until now, for myself!

LG.jpgYou may have read about my apartment kitchen remodel.  Well, to get you up to speed, quickly, while some improvements continue to be done, we're putting the bulk of the renovation on hold for now. The basic issue is that we are undecided on what should drive certain important decisions...resale or personal wants and needs. Plus, since our son will be staying there for at least a couple of more years while in college, there is not an urgency to do the renovation. the course of having to remove the existing over-the-range microwave this weekend, due to its extreme venting inefficiency and age, we stopped at Best Buy to pick up another one, a 400cfm model by Samsung, since we were told by our super we could duct it through the existing path in the ceiling. We found most new models were 300 cfms.

lg-over-the-range-microwave-oven-interior.jpgBUT, while in Best Buy, all of a sudden, we saw this LG microwave and immediately had a WOW reaction. It's very sexy, it's a few inches deeper than normal, it's taller, which we needed, and best of all, it has a 470 cfm fan, which was very impressive. Our son and his girlfriend cook up a STORM  in our NYC apartment, nearly every night, and the gunk of small airborne particles that settle all over the apartment is not a pretty sight. So, THIS appliance seems to fit what we need for now.

As I've said before, I'm not a fan of the over-the-range microwave in general, for several reasons, but, in this case, the spot is open for it, so we'll fill it. This is the most powerful over-the-range microwave cfm rating I know of, which leads to healthier living in an open kitchen!

I LOVE the lift up door, the cfm capacity, the depth to better cover the burners, and the very cool look!


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago
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