A Pinch of Sugar Color

Guest Post from Susan Serra of The Kitchen Designer

We're celebrating color on the table and in the kitchen this month! We asked Susan Serra of the great site The Kitchen Designer to inspire us this week with some colorful kitchen spaces, and with some good ideas for bringing color into our own kitchens. Welcome, Susan!

Hi everyone! Long time reader/first time writer, I'm a serious fan of The Kitchn. Being a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) by profession, and always open to fresh ideas, with some great ones I've discovered from readers of The Kitchn, I humbly trust that I can give back a few nuggets of insight and information from my perspective, which I hope to be of value to you in the days ahead. Let's talk color!

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To begin this conversation on color in the kitchen, whether you're renting and the kitchen is already in place, or you're planning a renovation, doesn't matter, it makes sense to begin with the end in mind, in terms of color. Begin by visualizing what you want the end result to look like. Think of color as a "layer" which adds its own sense of proportion and rhythym to your kitchen.

One way to ease into a color layer is to add a pinch (or more) of color!

I must say, the Scandinavians come to mind when I think of the concept of a single pinch of color, and they do it well. Scandinavians LOVE color, and they have fun with it. With all those dark winter days (we're talking sunset at 3 pm and pitch black at 3:30 pm in Oslo) even one shot of color in an entire space can literally be a bright spot in more ways than one in an interior design.

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Is your kitchen a standard-issue medium wood stained finish or perhaps a neutral such as white? You can divert focus with color, in one single, yet collective shot (in the case of several chairs). Take a look at the brightly colored green chairs in the image, and note how the eye moves in a strong and immediate diversion to the dining area. Doesn't mean you should neglect general design features for the kitchen, but it's one viable strategy. Here's how to get the look:

• A single shot of color, in this context, is meant to be proportionately a small percentage in area in comparison to the total area of the kitchen/dining space (if nearby).

• For this look to be effective, designing the kitchen with a single shot of color assumes that surrounding rooms use color, if not in a single shot as well, then in a similar intensity in some way, so look beyond the kitchen to connect the color story. The hue chosen should also make sense from one room to another but does not have to be the same color from one room to the next.

• For a color shot to be easily and quickly enjoyed, I would advise that the colored piece(s) be situated at least a couple of feet above the level of the floor. In theory, a brightly colored rug seems to fit this concept well, but if doorways impede one's vision into the kitchen, its effectiveness is diluted.

• The use of paint in one unexpected area is the perfect way to play with color. In my previous kitchen, I painted the rear of an otherwise nondescript sheetrocked shelving area a rich turquoise. This situation is an opportunity to further play with color by adding colorful dishes and accessories, which then evolves into a wider color theme and away from the single shot concept.

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• For permanent installations, colored appliances have rapidly increased in sales in recent years. One look I'd be careful of is the "suite" of appliances, all the same color, say, blue or red. If one key appliance, depending on its location — let's say the range — is a color, the impact will be far more interesting as a design statement.

• Another thought for a couple of cool single shots in a new kitchen renovation might be for a hood to be a strong color feature, or perhaps a freestanding armoire which serves as a pantry. I just used this latter concept, not in a modern kitchen, but in a Country French kitchen, with an armoire used to house small appliances, which is surrounded by wood stained cabinetry. The armoire is a sort of powder/medium faux painted blue and the cabinetry surrounding it is a dark brown butternut wood species. FUN yet highly traditional in spirit.

• My last thought for a pinch of color is to mount a colorful piece of artwork...preferably medium to large, but small could look great too, depending on the wall configuration. What a great look — sophisticated, modern, beautiful, fun, take your pick, the result can be stunning.

Thank you for sharing, Susan! We are looking forward to the rest of your posts on color in The Kitchn this week.

Visit Susan Serra's weblog:
The Kitchen Designer

(Images: Susan Serra; Elle Interior; kitchn 2: from Blue Star's website; kitchn 4232: Bolig Magasinet )

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