Today, I’m going to tell you how to design a kitchen, and it’s dead simple. You just need to pick a thing — one thing you love — to design around.
For me, it was a stove — a Lacanche range, one of those timeless designs that people just refer to by one name. I had just discovered them and knew I wanted one (mostly because they came in a great range of colors, not just because they are wonderful and French). I picked the color blue, and then picked some dusty shades of blue to complete the rest of the space. Just like that, my kitchen design was done.
I’m only exaggerating a little bit. There are hundreds of little decisions to be made once you have your basic floor plan and your one perfect object, but if you go in with a spirit of adventure, one will lead naturally to another. This is your chance to be creative with color (don’t be afraid), appliances (integrated appliances are so cool), and countertops (I love marble, especially from Italy). Have fun, both with the process of picking and with the end result. Why the hell do you want a boring white kitchen? (Okay, okay, maybe your relator is shouting “resale value” at you, but at least do something special with the appliances or the hardware or the hood or the countertops or the wall paint color, for goodness sake.)
Colored cabinets are all the rage according to a lot of design writers, but they’ve always been great in the right space. I did a wonderful kitchen in Cape Cod so many years ago (gosh, a lot of years ago!) in a vibrant shade of blue with a white glaze over the top. It was so beautiful then and is now apparently even more in vogue. It was perfect there next to the water, and with the whole vibe of the property. And I recently did a kitchen in Kentucky in a barn red color, which matched the barns right outside the windows. It wasn’t subtle, but it worked.
I recommend keeping cabinets themselves simple, in a style that is timeless instead of trendy. An inset door style with a flat or raised panel can always be dressed up with a little molding. The hardware and working parts of the cabinet need to be high-quality; You want your cabinets doors and drawers to open and close with ease. A kitchen is a workspace, so make sure things work well.
If this still feels intimidating, just remember that you probably aren’t going to do this alone. You’re going to have a contractor, a cabinetmaker, and hopefully an independent designer to help you. If you don’t, you could have months and months of eating out — which sounds fun now but won’t after month seven or eight.
So start with something — something you love. Maybe it’s the cool cooktop, or a backsplash tile you’ve fallen in love with, or a certain kind of countertop you just have to have. Or you could even start with a painting. You just need one thing to get the whole process started.