Creating timeless kitchens

Tips for designing a dream kitchen with lasting impact

As the centre of activity – where people gather, socialize, and spend most of their quality time – the kitchen is a homeowner’s biggest asset, both for lifestyle and resale value. Today, much attention is being placed on how a room is laid out, the design, and its functionality. But, creating the ultimate kitchen can be a costly venture. With that in mind, it is always good to think long-term and create a design that is current, but timeless.

Here are some simple tips on how to construct a dream kitchen that will look good today and years from now.

Dollars and sense

It makes the most sense to put money into items that are used often and have a strong visual impact. Think countertops, cabinets, appliances, and islands, which are foundation pieces of a kitchen. To keep a classic look, these should always be simple and clean in design.

Countertops

One of the most popular materials on the market today is quartz countertops. Durable and scratch resistant, with a natural stone look, quartz is the best option for a well-used kitchen. White countertops that replicate real marble will always be on trend, and quartz manufacturers now offer a range of selections that look like the real thing. Natural veining adds pattern and texture, where needed, but also helps conceal wear and tear on the counter’s surface.

Cabinets

In most kitchens, cabinetry should last approximately 15 years but with today’s advancements in hardware, materials, and millwork, it’s lasting twice as long. This is due in large part to using quality products such as plywood, wood drawers, and soft close hardware (this mechanism will slow down the wear and tear of cabinets), which are less likely to break down over time.

For a classic look, white cabinets are an easy way to transition into modern and traditional spaces. Use timeless designs such as shaker Maple or slab MDF – painted white. And consider oak. Yes, it’s back, but not the old cathedral looking doors with flat grain. Today, we are seeing oak in slab or modified shaker, with a flat or quarter-sawn grain, white washed or natural with a matte finish (absolutely no gloss!).

Appliances

Stainless steel is still one of the best options for appliances. While other colours may come onto the scene, stainless steel’s popularity continues to increase every year. In short, it is always a safe bet. There is also an increased demand in commercial grade appliances that offer all of the latest technology. High functioning and energy efficient, these innovative pieces of equipment are ideal for any at home chef, who wants restaurant style appliances at their fingertips.

Some of the newest kitchen equipment hitting the mark: steam ovens, urban cultivators giving access to fresh herbs 24/7, and fridges with BioFresh technology, which keeps produce at optimal humidity and temperatures.

Islands

Regardless of a kitchen’s size, islands are a great addition. As a place for gathering, entertaining, and keeping the cook connected to guests, it also adds a multi-purpose element for prepping, cooking, clean-up, and storage. We are seeing more and more islands with sinks, dishwashers, wine fridges, and induction cooktops.

Adding personality

With a kitchen that has a more classic and clean look, adding in design trends is as simple as incorporating splashes of colour and texture through wall paint, hardware, fixtures, etc. These smaller investment items can add personality to a space but can easily be changed out in the future.

Not to be overlooked, the backsplash can also have a big visual impact in the kitchen. When considering what to use, go one of two ways. Make a statement using colour, mosaics, and patterns or use clean subway tiles or solid slabs of quartz/stone to create a neutral backdrop. For added punch, place coloured appliances like a fire engine red KitchenAid mixer on the counter, and transition out over time.

It’s all in the design plan

Before even considering any of the above options, it’s important to note that any type of kitchen project, whether it’s a remodel or new construction, should always begin with a proper design plan. With so many things to contemplate, an interior designer that specializes in kitchens will ensure all of the elements come together seamlessly. The end result – a functional, yet stylish space, uniquely tailored to suit the needs of the homeowner, and classic enough to stand the test of time.

The fine art of managing samples

Tips for finding the right mix when it comes to presenting concepts to clients

Regardless of the size of a design firm, there never seems to be enough space for samples. Before designers know it, they have more materials than they could ever possibly spec, and they’re bursting at the seams. With many designers working for themselves, or out of small spaces, having an excessive amount of samples is difficult or near impossible to manage. As technology has become forever intertwined in our lives, documenting information in a digital format appears to be the perfect solution.

However in such a tactile industry, this solution creates its own set of challenges. Re-furnishing, renovating, or building a new home is an emotional process. A rich walnut floor can be romanced when a client holds it in their hands. The width of the plank, the wood’s finish, the flooring’s texture all enhance their excitement and confidence in their decision. Once in the hands of a client, many products sell themselves. When products are exclusively shown in a digital format this whole experience is lost. A client may oppose a product strongly, and only after seeing it in person change their mind.

Conversely there are products that are the antithesis of sexy – i.e. grout. There probably hasn’t been a presentation put together to create a connection between a client and a shade of grout, nor does there ever need to be. Some products just don’t require a physical sample. Another product that does not necessarily require being seen in person is plumbing. Not because it lacks sex appeal, plumbing can be very sexy, but due to storage and the product being fairly understood. When a client sees an image of plumbing, rarely do they ask for a sample of its metal tone. Imagery of these products represent themselves very well, and the product tends to be very true to its image.

So, to sample or not to sample? We’ve come a long way from the mood board but some of us aren’t quite ready for 3D renderings. Whether designers prefer to lay out a table of materials or work solely from the Internet, it seems as if designers lean towards only one of those methods. The answer we have found lies somewhere in between.

WHEN TO SAMPLE:

Focal points
For any main feature in a space it’s best to have a sample. This is where a client’s eye will be drawn on a regular basis. Before installing a feature they will see for years to come, it is best they have a grasp on the material being used.

Natural materials
It is best to always have a sample of natural materials, such as woods and marbles. Natural products all have slight variations and online images don’t quite capture their unique beauty.

Innovative creations
Sometimes when designing a space, it can become an innovative concept that has never been created before. It may be so complex the designer hardly understands it, let alone the clients. Enlist the help of the trades involved to put together a small sample of what the creation will look like.

Unfamiliar products
Clients hire interior designers for ideas they would not have come up with on their own. However, just because they recognize a designer’s ability does not mean that they will be comfortable with unfamiliar selections. Having a physical sample of these unfamiliar products may help them understand the beauty of some of the selections.

WHEN NOT TO SAMPLE:

Materials clients like
When a client is sold on a material they have chosen, there is no need to sample it. This may seem fairly obvious, but important enough to be mentioned.

Standard items
As mentioned previously, materials such as grout or plumbing don’t need to be sampled. Clients are very savvy to the home design process thanks to the Internet. Many products are easily envisioned and clients generally trust their designers to make these decisions.

Unrepresentative swatches
Sometimes a sample swatch does a product a disservice. A small piece does not always convey what the real deal looks like. This can dissuade a client from a fabulous product that might just be perfect for them.

Sticking to the enticing products allows the client to focus on the feature items while the designer takes care of all the details. Finding a balanced mix between samples and online resources when presenting a concept to clients allows designers to direct their attention to the innovative features while avoiding standard items.

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