Design Dilemma: Open Kitchens We Love
This post is a simple love note to the open kitchen. Back in the old days, women and servants were cloistered away in a corner of the house where they labored daily over family meals. They were not a part of daily family activity. Cooking was not a collaborative effort. Certainly, at parties, people did not gather in the kitchen. The kitchen was a utilitarian workspace (never meant to be fun or beautiful) and nothing more.
But times have changed. Today, the kitchen is the heart of a home. Cooking is not just the work of servants or women —now the whole family gets involved. Nobody wants to be shut away in a distant room of a house with a pot roast. Our open kitchens look out over family rooms, living rooms, patios and terraces. Plus, our open kitchens are beautiful to look at for themselves.
Recently, a few open kitchens have caught our eye for one reason or another. Above, we were struck by how an older traditional home CAN accommodate an open kitchen without it feeling out of place. This traditional space from New York City designer Sheila Bridges incorporates high ceilings, carved moldings with wide open modern appeal.What makes it feel so natural is the use of traditional materials like marble counters, subway tile and butcher block which feel totally in keeping with the period of this home.
You can see that the above kitchen belongs to a very traditional home, but it’s definitely modern, at the same time. The lack of upper cabinetry helps to open up the kitchen even more. And below, we have another example of a kitchen that straddles a line between traditional and modern elements:
The cabinets are clean and modern, but the hardware used leans more to the traditional. The rustic floors, the rug, the table cloth, all point to a more traditional feel, but the brilliant white and the open floor plan itself suggests nothing more than modern.
Have you ever felt like opening up your kitchen to the great outdoors? Check out the fabulous kitchen below:
Glass doors on a sliding track allow the entire length of the kitchen to open directly onto a deck, providing a whole new meaning to the term, “open kitchen.”
Are you feeling more modern than traditional these days? Check out the unapologetically modern kitchen below.
Here the materials are definitely industrial — concrete floors and stainless steel works perfectly with the industrial elements found in the structure of the home itself.
Are you feeling a bit wary of opening up your kitchen completely? Consider creating an “open structure” that provides separation and openness at the same time. Check out this pass-through:
Upper cabinetry provides a storage area for glassware. But keeping cabinets of glass helps provide a feeling of openness between rooms.
Here are a couple more examples of separation ideas for open kitchens:
Both of the above ideas create separation that feels entirely in keeping with the architectural design of the home.
So what are we to take away from all this?
1) Just because your home is an older one doesn’t mean an open kitchen can’t fit in naturally and beautifully. Just remember that when choosing finishes — countertops, kitchen hardware, flooring — it is generally more successful to stick to materials that are in keeping with the era that your home was built.
2) Consider creating a partial separation through the use of open shelves, glass cabinets, partial walls, or lower cabinets. The benefit of this strategy is that it gives you more storage space and the best of both worlds in opening up your home while providing some coverage from kitchen disorder.
3) Consider a bar height countertop if you are concerned about dirty dishes. Some people shirk open kitchens because they don’t like seeing dirty pots and pans at dinner. This is an easy problem to solve by bringing the outermost countertop up in height, or by creating a partial wall.
What we’ve learned from the open kitchen experience is that once you’ve experienced an open kitchen, you will never go back to a closed up room again!
Images: Coco Cozy.com; Skonahem; houzz.com