Home Design Find - Interior Design, Architecture, Modern Furniture - Part 4
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Design Dilemma: 5 Ways to Add Personality in a Kitchen

contemporary kitchen how to tips advice
Kitchens can be difficult. Somehow, they all look alike. But there are ways to inject a little personal style into your kitchen. The secret comes in adding a few unexpected elements. That could be in the colors you use, the materials you use, playing around with configurations  and fixtures. Here are five easy ways to inject some personality into  your kitchen.
1) Dispense with upper cabinets.
The traditional kitchen look involves both upper and lower cabinets. You can get a whole new look, sleek and modern, by dispensing altogether with upper cabinets, allowing the space that would be dominated by cabinets to shine instead with artwork, interesting wall materials, windows, etc.

Below is a traditional kitchen that appears fresh, open and modern, simply because there are no upper cabinets but lots and lots of windows instead.

Kitchen and Island looking west toward drivecourt

And here we see a more modern look. The owners used the empty wall for sleek tiles and a television.

contemporary kitchen how to tips advice

Empty walls in the kitchen below was the opportunity to hang a dramatic piece of art.

Rustic Kitchen

2. Experiment with open shelving.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have open shelving. Open shelves have their supporters and detractors. Some argue they are too impractical, inviting dust and a chaotic, messy look in the kitchen. Others say that open shelving can open up a space, making it appear larger and livelier, depending on what you fill your shelves with. We can see the merits of arguments on both sides. But one thing you can say for sure is that open shelving is an opportunity to give your home personality that would otherwise be hidden by bland cabinetry. Take a look:

Twickenham Green Home

In the kitchen above, open shelves are an opportunity to add color and decorative objects, including plants, for a cozy, homey look.

Tremlett Grove N19

In this London kitchen, open shelves provide an opportunity to display beautiful pottery and a collection of vintage kitchen canisters. In fact, canisters like these are necessary to making this work, as they protect food from dust and keep shelves looking more uniform and tidy.

3. Play with texture and materials.

Industrial Chic kitchen

Bring new, unexpected textures into the kitchen including rough stone, raw wood and steel. Above, rough stone walls pack a huge punch in a casual, farmstyle kitchen. And look how texture transforms a plain white kitchen into something truly cosmopolitan, below.

Trousdale Residence

Below, concrete, wood and metal up the cool factor in a loft kitchen.

Modern Bamboo Kitchen in Eclectic Oakland Loft (front view)

And here, textured metal as a backsplash.

West Coast Fusion

And below, textured cabinets add a note of refinement to an elegantly modern kitchen.

57th Street Residence

4. Add a cool backsplash.

One sure-fire way to add personality to any kitchen is to pep things up with a snappy backsplash. Here are a few examples.

The traditional kitchen below would look utterly run of the mill, except for the colorful tile backsplash.

Traditional Kitchen

This patterned tile backsplash is a beauty and again the focal point in an all-white kitchen.

transitional kitchen how to tips advice

And below, a metal backsplash is unexpected and fresh.

California Style Kitchen

5. Add color.

There’s no more powerful way to inject a dose of personality than to emboldened your kitchen with color. Take a look at the examples below:

Modern Federation
Fun and Funky Mudjimba Beech House
Woodland Residence

And this:

Kitchen

The message is clear. If you want more personality in your kitchen you can have it!

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Design Dilemma: The Many Shades of Black Leather

Krukmakargatan Lägenhets styling

It used to be that black leather held connotations of bachelor pad masculinity. If you owned a black leather couch, you were a single guy living in a modern high-rise of glass and steel, and you threw some really wild parties, all week long. But somewhere along the way, all that changed. The vintage black leather couch in the photo above, for example, comes off as homey and inviting in a space that exudes anything but pumped up masculinity. Knowing that black leather is a practical option in so many households where pets and children have to be taken into account, we’ve dedicated this post to looking at how differently black leather can appear, depending on what you do with it.

In the room below we find black leather in a setting in which it is used most often — that is, very contemporary, featuring glass, steel and dark cabinetry. This may be the most typical, black leather bachelor pad look.

Pino Avenue

But black leather couches are adaptable and flexible enough to find a home in any type of interior. Below, we find black leather fits comfortable in a Scandinavian design living room using light woods, white cabinets, and an open, airy floorplan. With a chalkboard wall and the Japanese prints, this feels like a family home.

Warehouse Conversion

Who says black leather has to feel heavy? In the living room below, an armless design couch feels as light as a feather, and fits in perfectly with a Japanese minimal interior.

New Construction

Here’s another view:

New Construction

Here’s another black leather couch in a minimal room with an Asian feel:

Pool House

But black leather can feel cozy and contemporary too, like a place where you would just want to snuggle:

Greystones Residence

It can also feel, youthful, fun and funky, depending on how you accessorize:

West Hills Victorian

And here is a very traditional take on black leather, with a slight industrial vibe:

Balmoral

Here, black leather comes off as part of an upscale mens’ club:

Fifth Ave

And below, it comes off as homey and restful:

Interior Design Photography by ekin erinch

Are you considering investing in a black leather couch?

  • Lighten up the heaviness that some black furniture pieces have by investing in color, elsewhere in the room. This could be a brightly-colored rug, bright throw pillows, or an occasional chair in a bright color, as seen in one of the rooms above.
  • Consider painting a wall a bright color to provide some lift.
  • Art, art, and more art is critical to offsetting the heavy feel. Notice that almost every interior featured here relies heavily on artwork. Black and white art works fabulously with black furniture.
  • Add pattern. Patterned pillows and rugs add interest and keep a room from looking too monotone.
  • Texture is critical. Nubby pillows, shaggy rugs, wooly throws, velvety arm chairs, will help give your room a comfortable feel.
  • If you want to keep things neutral, consider gray rugs, as in the picture above. If they’ve got a light pattern, even better.
  • Consider oriental rugs and kilims. They are colorful, classic, handmade, and provide a nice warm counterpoint to the coolness of black leather.
  • Add touches of black elsewhere in the room. Adding a bit of black here and there, in accessories, or even as a paint trim around doors or windows can help pull your room together.

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Design Dilemma: Cozying Up to the Modern Fireplace

family room

With winter in full swing, we’ve retreated indoors to cozy up beside the fireplace. What kind of fireplace are you sitting by?

These days, there are many options to choose from, ranging from contemporary to traditional, and we thought we’d take a look at the modern fireplace in all its permutations. Shall we?

What distinguishes a modern fireplace from a traditional one? Usually, a modern fireplace will have far less detail. Often, there is no mantle, but a flat, clean line that is most often left completely unadorned, but which occasionally provides a frame for a painting, and in some instances, a TV.

Below, an open concept living room in a London apartment virtually requires an open, streamlined fireplace, like the one below.

NEW REPLICA NEW BUILD, HOME SET IN CONSERVATION AREA.

What’s so great about this fireplace is that the long, horizontal lines of the fireplace perfectly balance out the tall verticals of the room, which are emphasized by the vertical chimney that reaches for the skylit ceiling. The owners have avoided making the television the focal point by discreetly placing it off to one side. The message is that what is valued here is hearth and home, not staring into a screen.

Also in the contemporary vein is this double-sided fireplace that is built to conveniently heat and be seen in two rooms — a living room and a den. It’s the perfect way of maximizing the presence of a fireplace in your home, without maximizing costs. Here, the owners have opted to use the flat space directly above the fireplace to hang a painting.

Family Home on a Drive to the Heath

We know that contemporary fireplaces look cool in contemporary spaces, like the modern dining room below:

Pimlico Townhouse

But what about traditional spaces and period homes? Can contemporary fireplaces work there? You bet! The London home below is a typical, traditional rowhouse, with a formal entryway and crown molding. But somehow, the low-slung contemporary fireplace without a mantle or traditional hearth fits in perfectly with the elegantly simple aesthetic.

Detached House - Hampstead

And again, in the rustic Russian cabin below, a fireplace contemporary in style, looks quite natural along with all the rusticity of the log walls, thanks to using a rough stone material on the fireplace to balance out the room’s rustic elements.

Деревянный дом на Волге в Ульяновской области

This contemporary fireplace in a London home has a TV screen built right in. While we’re not sure what this arrangement will do to the lifespan of your TV, it certainly is a space saver that acknowledges the importance of the TV in most homes today.

Sundown

And another fireplace with the same idea, although this fireplace is made of stone. The stone helps to disguise to some degree the TV, making it a touch less prominent:

Martis Camp 230

The asymmetric modern fireplace below with shelving and seating on each side is one of the few we have seen incorporating a mantle, which allows for leaning a photo.

Contemporary Living Room

One of the coolest fireplaces we’ve seen is this glass fireplace, that virtually disappears when it’s not in use.

Modern Beach House

Here’s another with the same idea:

Custom 4-sided Gas Fireplace

Finally, this modern fireplace would seem to be just a bright red console or cabinet when not in use.

Indoor Ventless Fireplaces

So as you can see, there are a million different ways to go modern with your fireplace. And a contemporary fireplace doesn’t have to mean boring!