What the designers say about: The kitchen

  • Updated: March 20, 2012 - 5:53 PM

MICHAEL ANSCHEL

• Warmer colors are best. "It's a great place for yellow -- terrible for green."

• Cabinets are the most expensive element in the kitchen. You can reduce costs -- and open more space -- by reducing the cabinets. Anschel likes to minimize use of upper cabinets, believing they block the counter space. He also prefers shelves and cubbies to cabinets.

• "Less is more. Fight the urge to put the extra light fixture, the extra cabinet. Pull back. You can always add later."

• Storage drawers are better than cabinets doors, because you often have to pull out a drawer anyway to find items in the back. Plan your space in advance and design drawers for what they'll be used to hold: shallower drawers for silverware, deeper ones for taller objects.

• For countertops, "we use salvaged material," he said. It's more environmentally friendly and cheaper; the cost is mainly in having the material shaped to your counter. And by the way, he echoed a much repeated admonishion that the counter tops in different parts of the kitchen "don't all have to match," he said. A mix of materials "looks more interesting."

• Avoid highly polished surfaces; honed surfaces getter hide spots and glare. In addition to stone, consider linoleum, paper stone, stainless steel, wood.

LISA PECK

• "Backsplash tile is a great way to add personality," she said. Because it's a small area, "you can splurge a little bit, buy a more expensive material than you usually would."

• Plan storage spaces by asking yourself where you are going to use an item, and designate a storage space nearby.

• "If you're an extremely neat and orderly person, open shelves or cabinets with glass doors are good for you. If not, don't do that to yourself." You can put glass on just a couple of cabinets, or even an opaque material such as wire mesh.

• Lighting is especially important in the kitchen and should come from a variety of sources, "including under-cabinet lighting, natural lighting, task lighting."

• Softer flooring -- cork, linoleum, wood -- "is kinder on your body if you're going to be standing a lot."

• Countertop materials are a matter of personal aesthetics. "There are so many good, durable options," she said. "Just don't use tile; the grout gets dirty and stained." If you like to bake, a marble countertop in the baking area provides a colder surface for rolling out dough.

TAN NGUYEN

• He generally prefers backsplashes, tiles and countertops "with a timeless quality," such as subway tiles or similar low-key patterns. If you do want to incorporate colorful or offbeat materials, use them to accent a small area, such as an island or a bar. That's easier on the eyes as well as the budget.

• Families find built-in desks or writing areas useful -- even a banquet with a sliding table can serve the purpose. "It's an easy place for the kids to do homework while the family's preparing dinner, or surf the internet under parental supervision. "Families interact in the kitchen more now than they used to."

• Minimize glass cabinets, and if you do use them, use frosted or textured glass "so you don't have to keep the cabinet interiors neat all the time." Consider lighting the insides, though.

• Many families like having a "command center" -- a mini-office space for keys, mail, trash bin, paper shredder, computer, phone connection, calendar, bulletin board or chalk board, drawers, chargers.

• Add color to neutral schemes dominated by floors, counters and cabinets with small touches: light fixtures, bookshelves, furniture, even the knobs on the range.

• Above the cabinets is a good display place to display objects. Make the look cohesive by sticking to a common theme, size, shape or color.

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