Since our kitchen is in an addition that looks out on the back yard, I found this picture really inspiring. I wanted the whole space to feel like this, lit up at night.
Yesterday I showed you the first stages of my home renovation and kitchen plans. Today I am going to take a step back and show you some of the inspiration I had filed away for my someday-future-kitchen, the pictures and thoughts that led us to the kitchen we built. Why have an open kitchen? What were the non-negotiables in the design? Read on for the scoop!
A kitchen that has long been a favorite. The details are more traditional than I prefer, but I love the drawers, the countertops, and above all, the light.
Besides the basics (functioning dishwasher! a stove with good burners!), here are four things that I knew I wanted in my kitchen.
- No upper cabinets. I am super short (5-foot-nothing) and upper cabinets have always been a strain for me. I wanted a more open feeling to the kitchen, and I was willing to sacrifice upper cabinet storage completely for the ease of lower drawers.
- Lots of windows. This is partly for aesthetic reasons, and also for practicality: I take a lot of photos of food, and good light was a priority.
- As much countertop space as possible! After living with rental kitchens and little corners of countertop, this was the huge luxury I was after: room to spread out! I wanted plenty of open, easy-cleaning surfaces.
- A pantry. Sacrificing upper cabinets meant finding somewhere else to stash food. I really like the idea of a pantry — one consolidated place to store food and small appliances. We were lucky enough to have space for a pantry, one that also did double-duty as a laundry room.
This kitchen is open to the dining space, but is still really beautiful. It doesn't feel too casual. I also really like the colors.
The Open Kitchen - A Hard Decision!
Now to the toughest decision about the kitchen — open to the dining room, or closed off and private? While the open kitchen has become very popular, it is still a controversial choice, and it's not actually one that I made lightly. We do a fair amount of "dressy" dinners (not out of social requirements, just for fun) and I do like to be able to shut a door between the dining room and the messy kitchen.
But after weighing the pros and cons, and looking at my daily habits of cooking, eating, shooting photos, and interacting with my husband and guests, we decided on an open space where I could cook while people stand around and talk, or where my husband could do dishes with plenty of space for people to stay and help. Everyone wants to hang out in the kitchen — why fight that? For everyday living, an open kitchen seemed to be the right decision, and we've already been so glad of this decision.
My biggest concern with the open kitchen was the loss of formality or "dressiness." I really didn't want our big dinners to feel less special, like they were being held in an eat-in kitchen. I want the dining experience to feel cozy and intimate — would that be lost in an open kitchen/dining space?
Inspiration in this came from two sources:
- The "Dressy" Kitchen - Michelle at Remodelista had not yet written her piece on The Formal Kitchen when I was designing mine, but if she had, I would have nodded all the way through. I decided to dress my kitchen up a bit, to make it as pretty as possible, to make it feel like part of the house's style instead of a purely functional kitchen. I hoped that this would help the dining area feel more intimate and tied-in.
- The Sitka & Spruce Kitchen. One of my favorite Seattle restaurants, Sitka & Spruce, has a wonderful open kitchen with the communal dining room table actually running straight into the cooks' prep area. (See photo above.) I remember just being so inspired by this layout, by the coziness of the dining experience. Dining in a kitchen doesn't need to feel cold or informal; it can be a source of great warmth and comfort.
Last but not least, I share some pictures above that I came back to again and again, with themes like minimalist, sleek cabinets popping up, as well as a certain shade of gray-blue, and white bright countertops. (See more of my inspiration here at Pinterest.)
I could talk on and on about kitchen inspiration, as it was so fun to dream and research just how this space could be. We feel very, very lucky to have been able to make it come to life.
Have you ever renovated a kitchen or built one from scratch? It can be hard and intimidating to even start — there are so many options! Where did you start? What were your non-negotiables, or your design inspirations?
(Images: Open kitchen: Rob Karosis/Kitchens and Baths; Elegant kitchen: CWB Architects; Sitka & Spruce image: Remodeling South Sound; Gallery: 1. Jamie Salomon/Willow Decor 2. Eric Saczuk for Mango Design 3. Beth Bates for Apartment Therapy 4. David Wilkes Builders 5. Courtney & Michael Adamo's kitchen at Design*Sponge, 6. Moraga Residence by J. Weiss Architecture, 7. Laux Interiors, Berlin, 8. Henrybuilt, 9. Leela Cyd Ross for The Kitchn, 10. ChrDAUER Architects)