Category Archives: Kitchens

Old world kitchens meet the 21st century

Hello, readers! It’s been pointed out to me that I haven’t posted in awhile… I’ve been mad busy with a special class in kitchen & bath design I’ve been taking! The bad news is, not a lot of posts… the good news is I now have loads of ideas for those areas of the house. I’ve been looking at a lot of kitchens, and I have to say that the ones I’m most drawn to have some old world, cottage-y, colonial elements as a wrapper with modern, sleek, 21st century kitchen tools neatly housed inside. I think I’ve pretty much got the formula down… it consists of:
a) a natural color combination of white and wood
b) stainless steel or integrated (with cabinet panels on front) appliances
c) some open shelving for (well-organized) dishes and glasses
d) farm sinks or wall-mounted sinks and faucets
e) timber beams/reclaimed wood structural elements or cabinetry
f) barn lighting, and
g) gleaming copper pots and pans (use in actual cooking optional).

Add it all up and what do you get? Kitchen perfection!

Here’s what I mean–

LOVE THIS. Timber beams and columns, reclaimed wood, a few open shelves, a HUGE throwback sink with wall-mounted faucet, barn pendant lights, and beautiful modern appliances snuggled neatly within its rustic housing. On a technical note, here the condenser for the refrigerator is inside the unit, so you’re losing some frig capacity in return for not having to look at the vent above the refrigerator.

Farmhouse flagstone and weathered wood is the perfect backdrop for a La Cornue oven range, with exposed stone as the perfect backsplash.

If this kitchen were a boy, I’d marry it. Sleek and modern work surface inside a medieval castle!

This one pretty much hits the nail on the head. Love the painted wood paneling across the ceiling, reclaimed wood as the island support, and beautiful little stainless wine cooler.

Timber ceilings, wooden cabinet fronts, a kind of modern spin on barn lights, and the black-framed windows add just the right amount of country. From Elle Decor.

A former House Beautiful kitchen of the month has timber beams, a La Cornue range, stainless steel nestled inside wood panelling, and great modern elements like a sink with 90 degree corners and a restaurant-style faucet to better get at those dirty dishes.

An irregularly shaped curved kitchen. A headache for your contractor, but WOW. I particularly like the oven, combining timber and brick with a stainless steel backsplash. I’m also becoming a fan of the shelf-above-the-cooktop. Good for visual interest and also seems practical for easy access whilst cooking.

Another House Beautiful kitchen of the month showing La Cornue cabinets and pot rack — incomparable for adding instant old-world charm. The cabinet front to the right of the sink is just a panel on top of a fully integrated dishwasher, so you order it from your appliance vendor without a front panel, and your cabinet maker attaches it along with the rest of the cabinetry.

This kitchen from Southern Living shows a stainless steel work surface right next to a rustic kitchen table with a simple wooden bench and antique-looking Mexican-style chairs.

White Corian boxes inside flat-fronted wood cabinetry give a modern kick to a rustic structure. Here the designer decided to show the refrigerator condenser above the Sub-Zero… so there’s more space inside but a visible vent. The placement of that structural column vis-a-vis the island is a little irksome though, isn’t it?

This sort of thing is the reason I subscribe to English Home. Can’t get more adorable than this little vignette, complete with cocker spaniel. Don’t know how practical those little oven doors would be when you have a 25-lb turkey but it sure is cute. I also like how the pans and lids are hung, as it’s often annoying to try to root through your lids looking for which one goes with which pot.

Why Windsor Smith is my hero. Talk about old world meets new world. Antique French chairs, open shelves, an oversized farm sink, some seriously high end appliances, and a modern, rectilinear hood. There’s a lot going on under that table and a missed opportunity for storage, but there’s so much storage elsewhere in the kitchen that I suppose they don’t need it under their island (ahhh, the luxury of space!). This was from the 2011 Veranda showhouse.

Last but certainly not least, we have Mick De Giulio’s former kitchen of the month from House Beautiful… a total stunner which is actually none other than a repurposed stable. Love the variety of work surfaces (soapstone, butcherblock, marble, and staninless… after all why should everything be the same when it’s serving different purposes?) and the way the appliances work in seamlessly with open shelves and mission-style cabinets. I like this one so much I’ll even post the detail shots:

This clever designer actually lined the glass of several cabinets with chicken wire (part of the barn vernacular) (bottom right).

Speaking of De Giulio, he actually designed House Beautiful’s famed Kitchen of the Year for 2012, featured in their most recent issue… and if you haven’t seen it yet, you have my full permission to run out to your newsstand and get it right now or, for New Yorkers, it will be open starting next week in Rockefeller Center (July 16-20). See you there!


WestChester Kitchen — ALMOST DONE! — with full materials list for copycats :)

I am sooooo ridiculously excited to reveal my makeover of a WestChester kitchen! Been working on this since January, finally ALMOST THERE!

Here’s our before….

AND AFTER….. (da-dah, duh-dahhhhhh!!)…

For background… the house is a 1950s ranch. We were actually inspired by a beautiful colonial kitchen featured in Southern Living

Especially the taupe cabinetry with a lighter counter. My client then decided to do different-colored upper cabinets, a trend that I love (as discussed in a previous Roomology post)! I think one of the reasons I like the look so much is that it makes so much sense psychologically because that is how things appear in nature (light sky and clouds above, and dark plants and soil below).

So, after much discussion on the merits and costs of new cabinetry, we decided to repaint the existing cabinetry and replace the hardware. The colors we chose were:

Benjamin Moore Cotton Balls on the upper cabinetry, a beautiful yellow-y green-y white. Then we struggled to find the perfect taupe with just a touch of green for the bottom cabinets. We could not find this among the Benjamin Moore colors, but I found what I was looking for from Behr Paint:

This lovely color is called Twig Basket. However, my client wanted Benjamin Moore paint because of they are committed to low- or no- VOCs. So, I brought the card to Benjamin Moore and they were able to create a custom color for us!

Lastly, our wall color was Elephant Tusk by Benjamin Moore… a go-to cream with wide appeal.

For counter material, we decided to go with resell-friendly, budget-friendly, durable, heat-resistant granite. Believe it or not, this piece was only $40/sq ft, and they even threw in a new stainless steel kitchen sink! (No joke!)

This is Gialla Ornamental granite, and the color is Classic White. As you can see here, it had just the right flecks of taupe to match the cabinet paint perfectly!

For hardware, we selected brushed nickel knobs and these fancier handles for the drawers…

Perfect for a Colonial kitchen, we got these drawer pulls for a mere $5 each from the Martha Stewart collection at Home Depot.

For a backsplash, we kept it simple with off-white subway tiles, also from Home Depot. We both disliked the glossy finish for this look, so we went with matte tiles in off-white (pretty much the same price as the stock glossy white subway tiles even though they’re special order)!

The flooring was the hardest part. My client wanted a realistic-looking, eco-friendly, floating, no-glue laminate or vinyl. FYI, it’s totally important to consider indoor air quality when choosing any flooring, because of off-gassing (the leaching of VOCs and other pollutants into the air) of many products (flooring is a particularly notorious offender). No-glue options are awesome because many glues also contain harmful pollutants that can also off-gas… in addition, they can be extremely annoying when you’re trying to remove and replace the floor. So a no-glue flooring system has an underlayment (which in our case, we made sure was also eco-friendly) and laminated tiles that have a tongue-and-groove system, so that they just click together. After pricing various options, we actually found that the cheapest way to go was online! We ordered her materials from Wayfair, and then she hired her handyman to install it for her. Here’s what we chose:

This is Shaw floors Majestic Visions laminate (color: Newport), a bargain at $2.69/sq ft at Wayfair. This flooring is GreenGuard certified, meaning it does not seriously affect indoor air quality, and has been judged to have such little off-gassing that it is even recommended for schools and kids (whose sensitive membrames make them likelier to feel the effects of off-gassing). We also bought this eco-friendly underlayment:

This is the Selitac Underlayment, also from Shaw, also GreenGuard certified, 100% recyclable, with helpful little gridlines for DIYers, and available for the bargain-basement price of $40 for a 100sqft roll at Wayfair.

The last piece we are still working on is the window treatments, which is why I can’t show you the window-side of the kitchen yet… perfect for a colonial kitchen, we decided to go with the Country Life print from Waverly, a beautiful linen print. Here’s a photo showing the pattern…

And here’s a pic showing how well it goes with our beautiful granite!

Hope you enjoyed! Any questions on your kitchen choices??? Email us or comment!


Bamboo for Everyone…

Bamboo has become more than a short-lived trend in interior design.  In recent years, the use of bamboo has expanded, and it is easier than ever to incorporate this renewable product into your own decor.  Here are some examples:

Kengo Kuma and Associates used bamboo throughout the design of this residence.  The linear bamboo wall is the main feature of the house, representing the cultural exchange and respect between Japan and China.

The Becca stool from Modern Bamboo has Eastern styling with multifunctionality.  Use this as a seat, side table or shelf to add a touch of eco-friendly modernism to your room.

Also from Modern Bamboo, this table is an ideal combination of nature and industrial design.  I love the elegance and simplicity of the lines, which allows the material to really stand out.  This can be customized and delivered in 4-6 weeks!

 I love the sexy lines of this side table by Sachiko Segawa.  A simple glass top lets the form of the bamboo show through.

Why not use bamboo in your lighting as well?  I found these great pendant lights on Eco-Logic Bamboo Boards.  A  beautiful and simple way to bring in some nature to your space.

I really think the bamboo mosaic tile is stunning.   You can get these from Glass Tile Trend for only $14.99 a square foot.  Create a focal point in a room or a unique backsplash in a kitchen.

Designed by Block Cocinas, this kitchen quickly made it my favorites.  The bamboo flows seamlessly into the other materials creating perfect harmony within the space.

Here is a great collection from West Elm.  The lighter color bamboo will match a variety of bathroom decors.  Each piece ranges from $16-$19, so you can infuse natural beauty without breaking your budget.

An area rug is a more traditional use of bamboo.  The one above is available on Asana Organic from ranging in price from $90 – $130.

Bamboo is a great material for window treatments as well.  These shades will filter light and add texture.  Order any standard or custom size from Blinds Chalet.


Countertops that look like white marble (take two)

So it turns out that white carrara marble counters are all anyone really wants in their kitchen.  You can barely open a design magazine without seeing a kitchen done with white marble.  Of course, given Murphy’s Law, white marble counters are completely impractical for the kitchen (too soft and stainable).  Given this conundrum, I thought it was high time to revisit my original blog post on Alternatives to White Marble Countertops, as it turns out that I left off some choices worth mentioning.  (If you want a discussion of white granites and quartzites, refer to the original post.)  So, without further ado, here is my new and improved list of engineered countertops made to look like white marble.engineered-stone-look-like-white-marble

1) Dupont Zodiaq Okite in Bianco Carrara is bright warm white with a contrasting “vein.”  I do like a higher-contrast appearance, even though this one doesn’t look all that realistic.


2) Silestone in Lyra: I like the contrast and the bright white background, but this one definitely looks like swirls rather than veins.silestone-lyra

3) Quantra in Carrara: A low contrast surface with grey swirls.quantra-carrara

4) Cambria in Torquay: Low contrast, but a bright white background with a realistic-looking grey vein.cambria-torquay


Cambria Torquay

5) Caesarstone in Misty Carrera: Emphasis on the “Misty,” this surface looks more on the grey side.caesarstone-misty-carreracaesarstone-misty-carrera

6) Stone Italiana in KSoul: Even though this is a teeny bit greyish, I think it’s quite beautiful.stone-italiana-ksoul


7) LG Viatera in Bianco White: I actually like a higher-contrast look, so I’m a fan of this one.lg-viatera-bianco-white



8) VMC Trafficstone in Aurina: A low-contrast, speckled white.


So there you have it.  Love to hear from anyone who has experience with any of these — whether good or bad. 🙂

Roomology’s inner Gamer comes out to play

Ever since the original Nintendo Gameboy came out (I mean the real original gray one) I was hooked on Tetris.  I have had that game on every computer and cell phone I have owned and even this year it was the first App I purchased on my iPhone.   As an homage to my favorite puzzle game I have collected some of the coolest Tetris home design pieces.

Brave Space DesignBrave Space Design - This shelf comes in color (as shown) or white. I can picture this in a playroom or any modern interior.

Brave Space Design - Tetris Bamboo Shelf for those inner geeks who are also eco-friendly.

Diego Silverio and Helder Filipov worked together on this collection. I'm sure you can find a use for any of these pieces.

 And of course we cannot leave out the mosaic tiles.  These tiles are offered in any color your little gamer heart may desire.  As a kitchen backsplash or accent tiles in a bathroom, Tetris inspired tiles could add that little something extra to take your room from average to awesome.

Another UK based company, T-Tiles gives you the option to customize the tiles for your specific needs.

Color Options - You can choose up to 7 colors and they will have your order shipped in 3-4 weeks.

Paolo Grasselli created the Fontana Forni Fireplace. I love how you can easily move it around because it runs on ethanol and even change the layout according to your own floor plan and needs.

Soner Ozenc's mirror is one of my favorite pieces I have found. I am now seriously considering this post-holiday purchase for myself. I found it on DaWanda which is UK based however they ship internationally!

How else could you use the Tetris motif in design?  And what other games would make an easy transition from your game system to your home design concept?

Roomology loves: kitchens where the upper and lower cabinets are two different colors

Yes, it’s true. I can no longer truly fall in love with a kitchen whose cabinets are only one color. I just can’t, after seeing so many beautiful kitchens where the upper cabinets are a different color than the lower. Check out some examples below:

My favorite combination: white upper cabinets and beige lower cabinets from Cottage Living.

A slightly more subtle shift from cream upper cabinets to light beige lower cabinets via

Another great combination: white upper cabinets and wood lower cabinets in Kitchens & Baths.

A white oven hood over dark wood cabinetry, from Southern Living.

White upper cabinets above lower cabinets in a fun blue shade in a country kitchen.

Above modern gray lower cabinets, white laminate upper cabinets make a white ceiling seem higher. From
Herron Horton Architects.

White upper cabinets and dark lower cabinets are joined by a geometric backsplash. From Real Living.

I love how this modern kitchen breaks with tradition in putting the darker colored cabinets on top, and the green trim around a few of the cabinets adds additional fun. From
Canadian House & Home.

Using darker cabinets on top can also work in a traditional design.

Brilliant Ideas: How to keep an eye on your kids from your kitchen

I opened Traditional Home this month expecting to see nothing but some beautiful holiday decorations… instead I found one of the most brilliant and simple ways to solve a problem faced by many parents: how to supervise your kids while you’re cooking without having them underfoot in the kitchen. Even in some open concept homes, the parent may have trouble keeping an eye on the kids if the primary work space is turned away from where the kids are playing. So here’s this young mother’s solution:

Traditional Home TV in Kitchen IslandThe kids have their own private TV, right at their eye level. It’s built in under the primary work area of the kitchen. Now, the kids are 4 feet away, but are clearly outside the kitchen, and mom is actually able to interact with the kids while they’re watching TV. I would have loved to take this idea even further, perhaps by putting some child-size chairs in front of the TV or having a space for games and toys alongside the TV, so that the kids know that this really is a playspace meant for them. Still, it’s brilliant, and I think this solution could be accomplished for less than $500.

Cream Cabinets with White Trim?

A friend of mine sent me the following question.  She has white crown molding throughout her house, but she decided to buy antique white (cream-colored) kitchen cabinets.  Then, when her painter got in there, she realized those off-white cabinets would be hanging right below that bright white crown molding.  What should she do, she asked?  Should she change the color of molding in the kitchen, although then it would be different from the molding in the rest of her house?  Or should she put up the two different shades of white so close to one another?

Well, I’m not sure who exactly came up with the rule that cream and white should not be matched together, but in my opinion, it doesn’t really exist (or shouldn’t exist), either in fashion or in interior design.  Here’s just a sampling of looks from runways that combine white with cream (from MaxMara, Celine, Dolce & Gabbana, and Polo).

Similarly, white trim is a great complement to cream cabinetry.  Check out these examples:

Now.  Suppose you don’t buy this.  You didn’t like these variations in white, and you don’t want to be constantly looking up thinking, these don’t match one another.  There is an alternative.  You could finish out your cabinetry with matching cornices, thus avoiding the question of crown molding altogether.  Then the entire wall would be one unified cream color.  Check out these examples:

Absolutely lovely!  And check out in the first example, how they add pieces over the windows to keep the trim going around the room at the same depth as the cabinetry.

On the Prowl: Alternatives to White Marble Countertops

A friend of mine who is redoing her kitchen is obsessed with the look of white marble countertops.  But, considering how high maintenance they are (staining, chipping, and resealing every 3-4 months!), she wants to know if there are any alternatives to achieve the same look.  Sure, there are, I said, there are plenty of engineered stones and the like that look like marble.  WHERE? she demanded.  Where indeed?  So now I’m putting my statement to the test, to find out if there really is anything that can match the beauty of white marble.





4.   Quartzite in Luce di Luna, Super White, or Biancaquartzite that look like white marble PROS: Quartzite is a natural stone, very resilient, and stain-proof. As a natural stone, we get that great veiny look we’re searching for. The Bianca is the only material I found that imitates the Calacatta Gold’s warmer, beige veins rather than gray/black.
CONS: While the pictures I’ve chosen is fairly light, as a natural stone there will, of course, be variation in the coloring, so you might have to look around for a slab that is whitish rather than gray.  When I went to see the Luce di Luna in real life, I will say that I was disappointed by the darker appearance of the slab I saw.  If you’re going from one stoneyard to another looking for the right coloring, that can mean significant time shopping around.  Also, as a natural stone, quartzite can be superduper expensive… I’ve seen it quoted at $130+.


5.   White Granites: Bethel White, Casa Blanca and Beola Ghiandonatagranite-look-white-marble
PROS: We all know the pros of granites: hard, durable, and a magnet for future homebuyers.  The other upside is that granite’s popularity has lead to an abundant supply and some very, very affordable granite options… I’ve seen it quoted for as little as $29-49 sq ft installed.
CONS: Granite is just never white.  It can be light grey, but it will still be grey.  Period.  It is also not usually veiny.  It can be swirly, like the impossible to spell Beola Ghiandoata, but most of the time it will disappoint marble-seekers because it is typically dotty and splotchy. 

Beware: what suppliers are typically calling “white” granite probably looks something like this (an actual photo from a recent trip to a stoneyard):

white-graniteThis piece was priced at $40 sq ft.

6.   Caesarstone Misty Carrera:caesarstone-misty-carrera
PROS: Misty Carrera is 93% natural quartz, so it’s it’s stain, chip, and crack resistant, and extremely low maintenance.
CONS: I’ve seen this in real life, and I have to say that this is absolutely not white.  It is grey.  I’ve also heard rumors of a problem with the resin in Caesarstone that there was some yellowing after exposure to sunlight.  Unconfirmed, but scary nonetheless.

UPDATE: I didn’t get to all the products the first time! Please read on to see my second look at great substitutes for marble: Countertops that look like white marble (take two)

So what do you think? Which do you like the best?