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KITCHEN design


How to Make the Open Kitchen an Enjoyable Inviting Space

open kitchen design

open kitchen design

I asked my friend Line Atallah if she would like to write a guest post about open kitchen living. Line lived with her husband and their two young boys. She recently made the switch to open kitchen and I wanted her to tell us how she made it works for her family. I am glad that she accepted my invitation.

A few month ago, I moved into a new house. Cooking being my biggest hobby, I was all excited about redesigning the kitchen.I was faced with the biggest dilemma, to go for an open kitchen or not.

After many weeks of thinking it over, I made up my mind. I was going for an open concept, no hesitation.
It has now been 3 months I am living the open kitchen concept, and I am loving it.

I love to cook. As a matter of fact, I cook almost everyday and it is my way of relaxing after a long day of work. The open kitchen concept allows me to be with my family, watching the kids while they’re doing their homework, chatting with my husband, and enjoying the view from the window in front of me. Also, it allows me to be with my guests when entertaining at home. I can join in the conversation, while doing what I have to do.

The kitchen was always the hub of our previous houses. By opening it up, it made it a more beautiful and inviting space to gather.

Here are a few tips I share with you today in order to make the open kitchen an enjoyable inviting space, avoiding the disadvantages.

1. Keep the same floor material as the rest of your house. This way the kitchen feel less like a kitchen, and more like an extension of the house.

2. If you’re thinking of building an island, try not to put the sink or cooktop on it. It gives you a nice big working space to plate your dishes, which is the most enjoyable, and cleanest thing to watch when entertaining.

3. Keep some walls or half walls bare, with no cabinets. It makes the kitchen feel breathy and less crowded

4. Opt for a counter-space wide fridge, the look is cleaner and slick, which makes the overall look less of a kitchen feel.

5. If you’re going for stainless steel appliances, and have kids, opt for the kind that doesn’t smudge. I picked the Fisher & Paykel fridge and oven, and it stays clean.

6. Pick a powerful hut that will eliminate smells fast and be sure to ask about the noise level. You don’t want to give your guests a headache! Even though many beautiful designs are out there, I personally picked a built-in hut as I wanted to have a minimalist look and as little clutter as possible.

7. Lighting is very important. Be sure to ask your contractor for dimmers, if you want to host an intimate seated dinner, the last thing you want is the focus on the kitchen mess. By adding dimmers, when you’re ready to sit at the table, you can dim the lights and even add some candles on your island to create a cozy mood.

8. When planning your kitchen’s cabinets, think of a place for your everyday appliances. The less appliances on your counter, the less mess and the easier it is to wipe the counters clean.

9. Pick the biggest and deepest size sink you can afford in the space you have available. I also recommend a sink with no separations. You will love hiding the dirty dishes in it when entertaining. It will keep your kitchen look spotless.

10. Last but not least shop for fun gadgets, like a nice soap dispenser, rag hook inside the lower sink cabinet, sponge holder inside the sink, etc…

I used IKEA to create a modern minimalist design for my cabinets by keeping my costs really low.


The Joy of Open-Plan Living

white kitchen dining living space in vogue living april 2010

white kitchen dining living space in vogue living april 2010

I live in an open plan living house. I know the pros and cons. Overall, I am happy that we opted for an open space planning 15 years ago. The “we” is crucial. It must be a family decision because it directly impacts the way you will life inside your house. You must consider your activities, your tolerance to noise and the structure of your house before starting the space planning.

Why Open-Plan Living Works for Me?

The reason I like open-plan design is that we can do our own thing but still be able to talk to each others. I can prepare the meal and still be in the actions. I only host casual chic parties. Therefore, I do not mind that my guests see the mess in the kitchen while I am cooking. Plus, an open-plan living feels cozier when we host parties. It is suitable to host big and small parties.

barn style living area in living etc

Guests will sit at the breakfast bar, regardless of the plan. My only regret is that while I am in the kitchen, I do not see the living room and vice versa. We did not have any other choices. For that reason, my guests tend to stay in the area next to the dining room or at the breakfast bar. I would love to get a floor plan like the top photo. It represents my ideal probably due to the communal table and the long counter, which comes handy as a buffet table.

Other options

One thing to remember is that at a sit-down dinner party, etiquette states that you sit down at the dining table only at the start of the meal. This is why having a lounge area next to the kitchen makes a lot of sense.

Open-plan living is not for everyone or can not be done in every house. Here, I like the use of a banquet, which creates a lounge area in a closed kitchen. before you make a decision on your next kitchen, explore the pros and cons of the various kitchen layouts plus the interactions between the dining and living rooms.

+ White kitchen photo: Vogue LivingMarch/April 2010 Sample Issue
+ Barn-style living photo: Living etc, July 2009 issue
+ Modern Oak Wood Kitchen photo: Thomas Loof for House Beautiful


Design Tips for the Perfect Pantry

open shelf pantry :: emersonmade's house tour on design*sponge

open shelf pantry :: emersonmade\'s house tour on design*sponge

An open-shelf pantry is practical as it provides easy access to the containers. Moreover, you can see what is available, which may inspire what to cook for dinner. On a style note, nothing beats the look and feel of rows of identical jars and baskets for a Wow factor. I feel relaxed and in control looking at this neat and beautiful sight.

What to Consider Before You Build

Shallow shelves work best because you want easy access to everything. Try to avoid to pill jars over the others like you can see on the photo with the smaller jars. Instead, add a shelf, even if it breaks the symmetry. Make an inventory of the items you stock most. Set up your pantry to cater to your needs but design for flexible storage as your needs will evolve over time.

Adding a pantry can help you to achieve the look you want in your kitchen. Make a list of things that could go in the pantry instead of the kitchen. I always find that the wine fridge takes precious space in a kitchen. Why not wine fridge in the walk-in pantry and buy good wine bottles with the money you save on the fridge finish.

Small appliances like the yogurt maker could run from the pantry. Plan well the placement of your light fixtures and electrical outlets. A motion sensor lighting system is a nice add-on.

Kitchen Space Planning

The most important thing is to design for the way you live. How do you cook at home? How many cooks are in the kitchen at the same time? Explore the traffic flow within the kitchen and with connecting rooms.

the perfect pantry and kitchen space planning

Looking at open-air pantry of Emerson and Ryan featured on Design*Sponge made me think about how I would build mine. I imagine my perfect pantry as a huge walk-in closet where I store food and odd tableware, instead of clothes. I feel that the most practical location would be behind the main kitchen wall.

It is a fact that a dark, dry pantry preserves the food better. But when you are cooking, you may want to leave the pantry door open. If there is no window and no direct light, maybe a door is not necessary. Plus, you have to consider at which frequency you replace the food. I would use my kitchen pantry for short time storage.

Many options are available. What are your design tips? For you, a walk-in pantry is a must or a splurge?

+ Sneak peak at Emersonmade’s house on Design*Sponge
+ via Apartment Therapy San Francisco


Why to Splurge on a High-end Dishwasher?

perla series dishwashers by miele

perla series dishwashers by miele

I wrote an article 15 months ago when I was shopping for a new dishwasher. At the time, I compiled a list of must-have and nice to have. Since I enjoyed the features for a while now, let’s see how those features measure up. I talk about features that make a difference in your day to day chores, not the technical sheet that the salespersons repeat to the consumers.

Superior Cleaning

Having a new dishwasher simplified my chores in many levels. With my previous dishwashers, I used to clean the dishes in the morning because it took too much time to rinse everything before I put them in the dishwasher. Not anymore. My dishwasher cleans so well that I never rinse anything. I gained precious minutes every day.

When cooking, I put the bowls, pots and pans that I do not need anymore right on the dishwasher. And the dinnerware, glassware and flatware go straight from the table to the dishwasher. I start the cycle as soon as the dishwasher is full. We live in an open kitchen, dining and living space. We never hear the dishwasher.

Quiet Dishwasher

If you go with a high-end dishwasher, chances are that you will never use the delay start. I don’t. It is so quiet that there is no need to wait.

European dishwashers vs. U.S. dishwashers

The European models have no heating coil near the bottom rack. Therefore, you can put plastics anywhere. This is an enormous advantage. This simple fact means that my counters are always neat. In fact, I would never go back to a North American model simply for that reason. On the green side, the European models use less water per cycle than the U.S. models.

Another particularly is that the European brands do not have a food grinder. They use filters instead. You do not need to rinse the dishes but you need to remove all the food before putting it on the dishwasher. The filters  must be cleaned once in a while but it is quick and easy to do, after the first time. I do not have to keep track of when since my dishwasher alerts me when I need to clean the filter.

Cutlery Tray

If you can get a cutlery tray, I strongly recommend it. At first, the cutlery tray seems not efficient. After a couple of days, I read on the Miele’s manual that they suggest to sort the utensils as you put them on the tray. It takes the same time to fill up. The benefit is that you save plenty of time when you transfer the cutlery into your kitchen cabinets. I never remove the trays to bring the flatware to my drawers. I just take all the big spoons in one hand, the same one in the another and put them on the drawers.

Keep in Mind your Tableware

I carried to the store a large plate and my tallest dishwasher-safe wine glass. It is important that they fit. Pay attention to the tray configurations. Look at heights and widths of the sections. Ideally, opt for a model where you have the flexibility to change the configuration. Mine does and it comes handy with big bowls and pans. I put everything, except wood tableware, on my dishwasher. I made sure everything would fit inside.

Multiple Programs

I do not use the 19 wash programs but when required, I switched to the specialty programs. This was my first dishwasher with an electronic panel. I love it. I programmed a few cycles the way I like it. Having access to my own settings saves time.

Overall, my priority list has not really changed. I made sure that the dishwasher we bought would satisfy my needs. I think this is why I am so happy with my purchase. In fact, I often say to my husband how pleased I am with our choice. If you are curious, we bought the Perla. Yah! It would be hard to not feel spoiled. My best advice is that you have a clear idea of what is important for you before shopping. Learn about the new gadgets and see why which you think you would use.

I would not do that with my own dishwasher, but I found this old Miele advertising that is funny to watch. Have a look.

+ photo: Miele


The Quest for the Ideal Kitchen Design

kitchen design with upper shelving instead of upper cabinets on living etc

kitchen design with upper shelving instead of upper cabinets on living etc

It is easy to get carried away when you are designing a new kitchen. Since it is a major investment, it is not just about looks. It is critical that your kitchen works for your lifestyle. Lately, magazines are taking this approach when it comes to kitchen design.

First, there was the March 2010 issue of Dwell who explored kitchen design from people who really cook at home. The March 2010 of Living etc. showcased several kitchens with no upper cabinets. These kitchens look like someone really live there. You can see if it fits your tolerance to clutter and how easily you can reach things when cooking. In April, Living etc. continues with an article where form and function meet in smart kitchens, plus expert advice on flooring and appliances.

Even though I am not moving or renovating my home, I often think about what would be my ideal kitchen layout. I analyze what I like in my own kitchen and what I wish to change. I know that finding the right design that fits into my lifestyle is a work in progress and that it will evolve in time. But by thinking about it, I think I would get a better idea of what I really need when it comes the time to redo my kitchen.

I would like a walk-in pantry to limit the number of cabinets. A roomy space where to keep and plate the food when I entertain would come handy. I lean towards no upper cabinet on at least one wall but I am not sure if I could live without them completely. What about you? What type of kitchen layout do you prefer? What is the perfect work plan for you? What are your must-haves in a kitchen?

+ photos: March 2010 of Living etc.


Modern Custom Kitchen for a Chef and a Pastry Chef

foodies custom modern Bulthaup kitchen

foodies custom modern Bulthaup kitchen

The March issue of Dwell is a treat for any foodie. It concentrate on kitchen design for people who really cook at home. One well-planned kitchen is the custom Bulthaup kitchen of a couple. Chelsea and Arthur Jackson are two foodies. She is a certified pastry chef and he is a chef at a restaurant. They live in a 1000-square-foot condo unit.

multitasking breakfast setting

Who wants to move around in a Sunday morning. By placing their massive wood table to be perpendicular to the kitchen island, they can watch the cooking of their oatmeal in the blue Staub round tea kettle while they sit at the table. I like the idea to integrate a bar station that includes an espresso machine.

a chef\'s home cooked meal

All the food pictures of the article look appetizing. I would like to be invited for dinner.

+ Dwell –  photos by Matthew Williams


Chic Modern Kitchen Accessories by bulthaup

kitchen with a view :: bulthaup kitchens

First, the views from this kitchen caught my attention. It is simple yet it feels so luxurious. That is what good modern design does. From anywhere you are in the kitchen, your sightline is awesome.

bulthaup wooden basket

But then, I saw the wood kitchen accessories made by Bulthaup. I never took the time to look closely at their line. From the bulthaup woven maple frame basket, to the new bulthaup bread board and the bread container up to wooden containers that fit into bulthaup pull-outs and drawers.

bulthaup kitchen accessories

On the other end, the wooden containers are almost to beautiful to be hidden. The storage containers make cleaning leaves and peel from onions and potatoes a breeze since they fall into the removable base.