Archive for May, 2013

9 Ways to Make a Small Kitchen Feel Bigger

Posted on: May 20th, 2013 by Anthony Ramirez

Whether in a city loft or a three-bedroom bungalow, many homeowners find themselves short on kitchen space. Even if it’s not possible to create the wide-open kitchen of your dreams within your home’s current footprint, cooking in a small area doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With a few savvy design choices, you can maximize a compact kitchen and make it fit your needs. These 9 smart strategies will help you live larger in a small space.

#1: Streamline Appliances

Eliminate clutter by choosing sleek and compact appliances. A glass cooktop makes a great extension of your prep area, and its flat surface blends with the countertops, creating a look that’s visually uncluttered. Similarly, small vent hoods with space on each side can make a kitchen feel more open simply by breaking up a wall of cabinets.

#2: Open the Shelves

While a sky-high bank of cabinets can provide ample storage, it also can overwhelm a small space. Instead, opt for open shelving—floating shelves will provide plenty of room to stack dishes and cups without sacrificing style or space. For a quick revamp of existing cabinets, replace solid doors with glass ones—or remove the doors altogether—to create more depth and trick your brain into thinking walls are further away. (Caveat: If your dishes are on display, you’ll need to keep everything organized and color-coordinated, since clutter can make a room feel cramped.)

#3: Think White

Too much color can close in a room, but white opens up small spaces by reflecting light. This popular kitchen color also unifies a look because there are no visual boundaries to stop your eye. Try mixing several different shades—from crisp white to vintage ivory—to add texture. For a hint of color, choose a bold backsplash or paint a single horizontal stripe across each wall. You also can introduce a favorite hue through barstools or appliances, which will add just enough color without overwhelming the space.

#4: Be a Lightweight

Lightweight, clean-lined furnishings such as open tables, stainless steel carts or armless chairs make spaces feel larger by allowing you to see past them. Plus, they’re much easier to maneuver in and around. For extra workspace, opt for a small table rather than a traditional island, which can loom large in a compact kitchen. A fabulous piece of furniture turned island also can double as a chic buffet for entertaining.

#5: Pause for Reflection

Open your kitchen instantly by incorporating reflective materials such as a mirrored backsplash, ceramic tile countertops and stainless steel appliances. They work like magic by giving the illusion of more space. Reflective backsplashes work especially well in the tiniest of kitchens since they make the walls appear as if they have no end.

#6: Let the Sun In

Natural light enlarges a room, so minimize window treatments—or forgo them completely—to allow the maximum amount of light into your kitchen. Opaque shades are a great choice because they filter light in while still maintaining privacy. If you’re planning a major overhaul, consider adding bay windows or skylights if your kitchen doesn’t get enough natural light.

#7: See a Pattern

While visual clutter can make a room feel small, certain flooring patterns—such as large checkerboard or horizontal stripes—can actually enlarge a kitchen by creating a longer path for the eye to follow. As with clothing, this makes a room feel wider than it is. With wood floors, mix light and dark tones to create a striped effect, or add a striped rug for a quick fix.

#8: Build It In

Built-in shelves and cabinets provide valuable storage without taking up precious floor space because they’re flush with walls. While recessed storage is easier to plan if you’re doing a total redesign, you can carve out built-in nooks from any extra space. To polish the look, trim built-ins and paint or stain them to match cabinetry so they’ll blend with the rest of the design.

#9: Go Hardware-Free

To further de-clutter a cramped space, opt for European-style minimalist cabinetry with flat-panel drawers and doors. You’ll save inches of desperately needed space normally taken up by traditional cabinets. If those are too sparse for you, look for modern designs with streamlined hardware that’s still less intrusive.

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10 Kitchen Designs for Beach Lovers

Posted on: May 13th, 2013 by Anthony Ramirez

Who doesn’t want a kitchen designed to look like your favorite vacation destination? And there is no place more refreshing, peaceful, or serene than the beach. Whether your idea of fun in the sun is surfing along the Pacific shores in California, indulging in the latest beach read on the Gulf of Mexico, or sailing on the harbor in Maine, we’ve rounded up our favorite beach looks from coast to coast. Learn, too, our top design tips to help you create the sea-inspired kitchen of your dreams.

Nantucket Nostalgia

Nantucket is 100 percent Americana, from sailboats skimming the water to bright bikes, outfitted with woven baskets, cruising over cobblestone streets. And the kitchen decor doesn’t stray too far from this visual. Mix nautical accents like rubbed nickel lanterns and compass-inspired clocks with traditional elements, such as glass-paned cabinets and white clapboard walls. Colonial furniture, like these Windsor barstools, are staples of this area’s kitchen styles.

Maine Attraction

When one thinks of Maine, rocky coastlines dotted with lighthouses often comes to mind. Maine is the perfect balance of sleepy, rustic villages and New England classicism. Stone flooring, instead of typical flooring like wood or tile, adds an element of earthiness. A smaller version of an outdoor lantern, like this one, is a twist on traditional kitchen lighting. Buttery yellow walls and window draperies are key to softening and warming up the ktichen design.

Lakeside Retreat

Before you start your design, take a cue from the view. Pinetree-lined shores, sandy beaches, and deep blue water are some of the standouts in this midwest region. Get the look of the lakes by layering exposed wood beams and cabinetry with dining chairs that are upholstered in sandy linen. An island in a similar wood finish is great for a quick mini-makeover. Countertop materials such as soapstone, concrete, or slate reference the deep, marine blue water.

Gulf Catch

The gulf coast is all about a laid-back, low-key way of life. People flock to their famous sugar-sand beaches and clear waters. Get the easy-breezy style of the gulf with an all-white look. Mixing natural textures like seagrass, jute, and nubby linen will keep the kitchen from being one-dimensional. Butcher block is one of our favorite countertop materials because it’s multifunctional, eco-friendly, and not to mention, attractive! Modern, oversized pendant lights pack a big punch with little effort.

Vintage Glamour

Palm Beach is the grand dame of all things beach chic. There is no shortage of glamour when it comes to this south Florida mainstay. Hollywood Regency dominates the design scene with bamboo-trimmed everything, yards of chinoiserie fabric, and vintage furniture lacquered in juicy, highgloss paint. Don’t skimp on the prints in your kitchen design either. Elaborate wallpaper is the perfect way to inject bright, island style to your kitchen. Play around with bold tile backslashes and ornate light fixtures. Anything opulent goes, so don’t be afraid to have fun and take chances!

So Cal, So Cool

Inject So-Cal style into your kitchen by combining traditional Mexican influences like Spanish tile, stucco, and dark wood with modern finishes, like sleek white subway tile and contemporary appliances. Design tip: achieve a bohemian vibe by mixing different styles of barstools or choosing mismatched dinnerware. To pull off an effortless-feeling space, avoid anything that’s too matchy matchy.

Coastal Contemporary

Contemporary architecture dominates the shoreline in this Northern California beach town. High impact design and a low carbon footprint are highly sought-after in the area, and bamboo is the ideal material to enlist for service. It naturally grows in humid climates so you don’t have to worry about the risk of it expanding due to moisture, unlike many other wood varieties. Make a statement by using sleek, simple hardware on drawer and cabinet pulls, such as these. Choose mid-century pieces, as it won’t distract from the clean lines in a modern kitchen. Combine function and form by hanging pots, pans, and cooking accessories over the island for added drama.

Rustic and Wonderful

The woodsiness of the Northwest coast is a gorgeous foundation to build your kitchen inspiration around. In this look, it’s all about texture and materials. Repurposed goods shine in this space: think reclaimed barn wood flooring and a farm table and chairs from the local flea market. Painted white cabinetry (click here for our top white paint pick) and pickled wood ceilings invite light into the room, maintaining the breezy, airiness of the beach. Antiqued nickel accents seen on the hood, range, and pendant lighting polish off the design.

East Coast Elegance

Known for its see-and-be-seen reputation, the Hamptons is an area rich in history, social status, and wealth. Despite all of its grandeur, the design remains classic and sophisticated. Bell jar lanterns aren’t just for the entryway. Hang them over the island to create an elegant ambiance. White marble backsplashes and countertops add the element of luxury associated with the region. Display artwork to add visual interest. We love these coastal giclée aviary prints.

Southern Hospitality

The south is known for its slower pace, and no beach area exudes this more than the Low Country. Kick off your sandy flip flops and relax on a porch-side hammock. Distressed paneled wood walls and paint chipped barstools fit right in with the laid-back way of life. Add cottage charm by replacing pantry doors with old-fashioned screen doors and hang tiny fluted tin pendants, like this glass variation, over the bar. Neutral mosaic tile blends right in to its surroundings.

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