12 Ways To Give Your Kitchen Plenty Of Personality
Design pros know that a kitchen is much more than a place for meal prep: it’s the heart of the home. In Barbara Sallick’s new book, The Perfect Kitchen, we see how top designers — like Steven Gambrel, Gil Schafer and Suzanne Kasler — give their kitchen designs a unique character. Barbara, the co-founder of the fixtures company, Waterworks, explores the process of designing a kitchen in detail, from surfaces and finishes to storage, cabinetry and hardware. “The kitchen, conversely, is a multifunctional social arena used from very early in the morning until well after sundown,” writes Barbara. “I discovered that for the bath, our customers preferred all-white elements that hewed to tradition; in the kitchen, they fearlessly mixed colors, finishes and styles.” Get inspired by these character-rich examples of soulful, unique kitchens.
Lacquer walls require several, painstaking coats to give this luxe paint treatment its well known depth, but that doesn’t mean this finish should only be reserved for formal spaces like a dining room. Rich blue lacquerwork gives this austere kitchen elegance, amping up the simple, symmetrical architectural elements and carefully aligned marble countertops. Curvaceous barstools and an inviting window seat encourages loved ones to linger.
Tall Emeco stools, a pendant light, schoolroom clock and chunky vintage TV inject a touch of industrial chic into this classic white kitchen. “I see a cafeteria in a scientific research facility, circa 1980,” says Barbara. “Not everyone would, but that invitation to interpret gives this kitchen character.”
A baby-blue AGA stove takes pride of place in this charmingly-patterned English country kitchen. The wallpaper takes its cues from the pastel appliance, and this kitchen is made even cozier with battered furnishings, such as a glass-front freestanding armoire and the dining/work table. “The comfortable dining chairs seem ready-made for long meals and sustained contemplation,” says Barbara.
Natural materials bring an authenticity and earthiness to kitchens. “Boards and bricks equal brawn here, and just to be sure the point is made, the pendant lights above the bunkhouse table are as rusty as buckets,” notes Barbara. At this generous table, it’s easy to pull a saddle-style stool and sip a glass of Chardonnay.
The book-matched panel of marble above the far sink acts as artwork in this room, and creates a unique effect. White lacquer and glass-fronted cabinetry keep the focus on the dramatic veining, while the dark herringbone floor grounds the ethereal palette.
For those hesitant to embrace full-on colored cabinetry, this memorable seafoam green island demonstrates how a vibrant hue can update classic white millwork. The colorful backsplash tile ties the whole look together.
Kitchen floors don’t always get a lot of attention — the action tends to be above ground level. This new trad space proves that an interesting floor plane can serve as an anchor for all of a kitchen’s elements and provides a standout decorative element underfoot.
“The particular appeal of this kitchen, to my eye, is that it is grown-up and elegant and simultaneously young and hip,” says Barbara. “The marble supplies the chic, but the simplicity of the faucet, the absence of cabinet hardware, and, especially, the choice of color give the room an unmistakably downtown vibe.”
Slipcovered armchairs and a charming table for two create a relaxing ambience in a space that, prior to becoming a kitchen, might have been put to another use. “Rather than being a liability, the relaxed, somewhat deconstructed character of the space — the open shelves, hanging copper pots, cutting boards tucked in a corner — make it ideal for a family hangout,” says Barbara.
Some elements defy the winds of change, with good reason. Wood beams, stone counters and copper pendants have proved their longevity. “This simple country kitchen is made elegant by the handling of its materials, the simplicity of the lighting and hardware choices, and the urbane yet warm quality of its decorative restraint,” she says.
Consider how seating can underline the overall style of kitchen, as well as adding unique personality. In this contemporary gathering place, a quintet of sculptural beauties plays off the blond wood and strong lines.
Open shelving and ample counter space show off a display of three collections in this generously scaled room. Groupings of earthenware pitchers, brass watering cans and wicker baskets are a natural fit, but show off anything that strikes your fancy, from heirloom dishware to kitschy finds that add unexpected pops of color.