The Kitchen Designer

A Long Island Kitchen Designer

Well, that's me, of course, a Long Island kitchen designer! My market/territory/areas served are the Long Island and New York metro area and beyond as demanded!

eclectic%20kitchen%20a.jpgWe know that, so?

What I'd like to talk about today is that the kitchen design "look" of Long Island, for the most part, reflects its well established suburban roots. Long Island being situated in the Northeast, close to New England, surrounded by history, naturally evokes tradition in many aspects of suburban life, creating a Long Island kitchen design point of view.

The majority of the architecture on Long Island is based in tradition, as are most furnishings seen in the homes here, as well as traditional landscaping, artwork, accessories, and other areas of home design.

I'm yawning already, what's the point?? 

Don't be so impatient! Here's the point! Most of my clients are in lock step with their physical, regional, surroundings as opposed to who they are, what styles appeal to them, where their interests lie whether recreational, via their heritage, personal interests, or "other." The home is Georgian, therefore, the kitchen is traditional, is often the conventional wisdom.

The point, as discussed regarding Long Island kitchen design, as an example, can be made for other regions of the country as well. The southwest, with its tex-mex point of view, southern California, a similar style of architecture and design, the often sleek, modern kitchen design of New York City and other urban areas, the warm woodsy soft contemporary look of the Pacific Northwest, the sleek, white kitchens of Florida, and other micro-themed regional areas. Point being, most regions have their "look." Actually, some areas on Long Island are more inclined to modern styling, other areas to formal styling, and still others to white, traditional kitchen design.

purplearea.jpgSet me free! 

First, be aware, be very aware! Be aware that you may indeed have an automatic reaction to what is the "right" way to design your kitchen either a) based on your region/history and/or b) based on the architecture of your home. 

Can you put a modern aesthetic into the log cabin lake house? A resounding YES. Mid century in a Victorian? Why not? You get the idea. The trick is to understand combining elements such as line, color, texture, mass and form. You will ultimately be creating a composition.

If you are unsure of how to proceed with this sometimes tricky aesthetic, please invest in the services of an interior designer for surrounding rooms and a kitchen designer who understands electic style for the kitchen so that you have a common thread among your spaces. Soon I will talk more about eclectic style, but first, one needs a germ of a thought, to begin to go against the grain, and here that is. Just call me the trouble making Long Island Kitchen Designer!

Desire To Inspire is a great resource to discover your secret eclectic self! Purple Area has some great examples of eclectic styles throughout the home, and also take a look at my category, Scandinavian Kitchens for inspiring eclecticity! (New word!) Although a Long Island kitchen designer, many design languages are spoken here on this blog!


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

Kitchen Design Miscellania

A few items of interest have been noticed today, and I'd like to share them with you!

First, I'm happy to have been asked to contribute to the blog, freshome, in the form of a piece I wrote on how to start the kitchen design process.  Freshome happens to be a very popular blog, covering a very wide variety of topics devoted to the home. There are inspiring, new, ideas, practical products talked up, tips, and lots more. Really, it's surprisingly comprehensive and covers the entire home. Dig a little deep, and you'll see what I mean. I just love tips, anyway, the more the better. So, take a look!



It's interesting that corporations are beginning to get into social networking (in connection with their products, at least in the kitchen and bath industry, something new), creating new environments for their customers to talk to one another about specific products and to learn more about the products including tips and how-tos, to allow a richer product experience, which, you know, really does make sense. Here are two new communities I'd like to share with you. I like forward thinking companies, and I REALLY like that they are taking a risk to actually bring their customers out in the public to chat with one another.

First, take a look at the GE Advantium community. I just love how it's designed. Fresh, clean, thankfully easy to navigate. Love how the recipes are categorized in different ways. Give it a little time, the community will build. It's a very complete environment with easy access to manuals, accessories, and so on. I poked around quite a bit. It's also the type of appliance where it is great to see how others use it to its potential.

Next, is a new community from Moen. I'll insert what I was sent, which says it better than I could:

 "Faucet-maker Moen Incorporated debuted the 2007 Show Us Your Style kitchen and bathroom remodeling contest today, DIYers everywhere can submit their remodeling stories and photos for a chance to win $500 every two weeks. (my words: YAY!!) Last year, the site proved to be very popular with homeowners as an excellent place to get ideas. What happens is, if you have a project to share, you just write your story, upload your photos and we update the site every two weeks with all the content. One of the neat things is, you can sort through all the entries by different criteria, like cost."



Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

Scandinavian Kitchens - Open She...

Something I already knew, which was confirmed at KBIS in shelving is HOT! It adds that warm touch, anyway it's done. Although, there IS an art to the arrangement of objects on open shelving, very much so. I designed my own kitchen (meant to be temporary, and here it is 4 years later) with lots of open shelving of various types to allow me to be surrounded by my collections. FYI, in the first image of my kitchen, the objects (all mine) were artfully arranged by the stylist on site when my kitchen was shot for publication last year, so I can't take credit for that! But, I digress.

Let's call today's journal entry, Scandinavian Wednesday, rather than Monday (late again) and take a look at how the Scandinavians "do" open shelving. They're very good at arrangements, the shelves themselves, and creating a look and feel of real warmth. Today we'll look at traditional shelves and arrangements in the kitchen.

It's not really difficult to put items on a shelf, but one may want to think in terms of "layering" the shelf. Put something behind, perhaps a plate, platter, or a piece of artwork, then something of a different color or texture in front of that, or monochromatic items if that look is pleasing. Books stacked sideways is always lovely, and a piece on top of the books, and so on. For me, it takes some time arranging until I'm happy with the look. There is volume, color, texture, proportion and balance to consider. Sometimes there are happy accidents, other times, it has taken precious time.

Next week (if I remember!) we'll look at shelving in modern kitchens.

Images are from left to right from the top down as follows: First, from lantligt, second, from boligmagasinet, third from sol-solstad, fourth, from Karna.sprayblogg, fifth, from Savannah-beach, sixth, from Masan Shabby Chic, and last but not least, from min lilla veranda.

Oh, I hate when I forget a detail, that's why it's also good for my subscribers to come to the blog to see if I've added something...take a look at the entire Scandinavian Kitchens category for more inspiring open shelving ideas! Heck, look at all the kitchens on the blog!  :-)
Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

10 Questions To Ask Before Hirin...

File0003a.jpgSometimes you just need a quick guide, a "how to" to get the ball rolling. Follow these tips and you'll be on your way to choosing the kitchen designer that is right for you. It's that easy.

You need to be organized and focused in order to make a reasoned evaluation. It's easy to be seduced by, well, so many things you encounter in a design studio or showroom, everything is so beautiful! But, don't mold yourself to the product, and be "stuck with" the design firm. Find a talented designer who you feel you can work well with and whom you respect. Good Great design work will follow, but first, ask these questions...


What do you think are good questions to ask? I would love to know!


  1. How many design solutions (plans) do you provide? Hint: Three or more is what you are looking for. With one or two plans designed, the vision is most likely narrow and subjective on the part of the designer. You need to see the possibilities for your space. Otherwise, it's "coulda shoulda woulda."
  2. How long does the process take? Two weeks? Four Weeks? According to your (the client's) timetable? This lets you know the timing expectations of the designer for the design process from start to completion. It also will tell you if this timing "fits" for you. You may also want to find out if the firm has a "policy" on changes during the design process.
  3. May I see work samples? It is useful to see both images of completed projects as well as proposed designs. Oftentimes the bulk of a design firm's clientele may be of one "style" or another, depending upon the region, although the designer may have proposed alternative design solutions in an effort to move beyond the typical, and this would be very interesting to see, as it shows creativity. I have more "alternative" design ideas in my client files that my clients were too afraid to consider as the concepts were not "safe." 
  4. How do you keep up with new ideas, products, industry advancements? Does the designer ever leave the office? Does he/she go to kitchen and bath shows, seminars, conventions? Interior design shows? Subscribe to kitchen and bath industry publications? Have a library of design books? Read interior design blogs? There are many ways to keep pace with the ever changing kitchen and bath world, but it is important that this is done.
  5. How long have you been designing kitchens? Just a minor detail...something you will want to know! In this business, experience is a good thing, provided #4, above is in place.
  6. Do you have any special accomplishments that I should know about? Accomplishments within the industry show involvement, motivation, interest, and recognition, all important to have as part of one's resume/career highlights.
  7. How mobile are you?  Is the designer available for jobsite meetings, even (occasionally) on short notice? Can meetings take place at your home, or only at the design studio/showroom? This last question should not be a dealbreaker...unless it is for you. Any availability via cell phone or pda? Mobility is a good thing. For me, I'll email 24/7 during off hours, but the phone takes a break from Saturday afternoon through Monday morning.
  8. Will you give me cost alternatives or just one single cost at the end of the design process? Assuming you have already received an estimate (a separate issue) will the designer tell you during the process where there may be costly design decisions and make an effort to suggest lower cost options? I provide my clients with a limited "chinese menu" of items at the end of the process, when presenting the final cost, to illustrate where particularly large cost items are seen in the plan, and offer substitutions. If a hood costs $10,000, which recently occurred, you may want to be aware of that cost! What's the cost procedure? And, what is the payment schedule?
  9. How do you handle the labor? Can I use my favorite plumber and electrician? Do I need to purchase the labor through your company? Will you provide me with more than one contractor for estimating purposes? You should have freedom of choice here. That said, a team approach is a good way to proceed.
  10. What will be your role after the sale of the cabinetry? Does the designer hand off the project to someone else in the firm? If so, you may want to meet the project manager. How often will you see a presence from the firm during installation?

BHG_2a.jpgAnd the bonus question: What if something goes wrong? What are the policies of the firm? What issues are likely and unlikely to arise during the project in the firm's experience? Who is responsible for what, when, and why? This is such a large question, it bears a separate post, however, the germ of the issue is presented. Think of your own difficult scenarios and ask questions. Look for a reasoned response, service focused.


Sure, there are other questions you need to ask, which I will cover at another time. These came to the forefront, covering a balanced criteria of design, money, and logistics issues. I recommend that you actually write down a list of questions and go in with those questions at hand and start the interview process!



Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

No Running In The Kitchen - I've...

OK, here we go, I've been tagged by the fabulous (and I do mean fabulous) Linda from Surroundings.  Let me take a moment, comply, and totally excite you with details about me...

Four jobs I have had or currently have in my life:
1. demonstrator of cuisinarts
2. chef in a small Italian restaurant, including pizza maker
3. mom of 3
4. designer of cabinetry for kitchens, baths, built-ins, custom furniture

Four countries I have been to:
1. Denmark
2. Spain
3. Sweden
4. Norway

Four places I’d rather be right now:
1. Copenhagen
2. Martha's Vineyard
3. My apartment - Upper West Side, NYC
4. Bornholm, an island in Denmark

Four foods I like to eat:
1. Frikadeller (Danish meatballs)
2. mint chocolate chip ice cream
3. sushi
4. bread from Cassis restaurant

I'm tagging:

Old Friend, Peggy - Kitchen Exchange 

New Colleague, Ann - KitchAnn Style

New Blogging Friend - Patricia Gray

New Dad, Mark - Living Well in Westchester


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