Inexpensive Kitchen Updates and Best Design Decisions: Interview with Architect Cass Calder Smith

Inexpensive Kitchen Updates and Best Design Decisions: Interview with Architect Cass Calder Smith

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Faith Durand
Mar 23, 2009

Last week we showed you the three basic floorplans for the Sunset Dream Kitchen, which they are building with details decided by reader voting. The main plan and flow of the kitchen, however, was designed by architect Cass Calder Smith.

We asked Smith a few questions about kitchen design in general, and about the economy and how it's affecting renovations and new homes. We also asked about what sorts of things to think about when designing a new kitchen, and how to change your kitchen without spending too much money.

What are three inexpensive updates you can make that make a big difference in the kitchen?
New door and drawer fronts on all cabinets, New appliances that don't require cabinet or countertop changes, and new hardware on all cabinets.

Tell us what makes a kitchen good for entertaining, more family friendly, and more eco-friendly?
For entertaining, I think size and having an island — you need space. For family friendly, the most important thing is for it to be open to a family room, and also with some counter top dining for kids. For eco, restraint (thinking about double function is a good example of this) and Energy Star appliances + sustainable materials.

Is there anything you've learned designing restaurant kitchens that has influenced how you design home kitchens? Not really, as they are very different in actual use. I have learned a bit about cooking temperatures, and burner sizes.

Do you see some major trends emerging in kitchen design and renovation as a result of the current economic landscape?
People are cutting back a bit — not only so they spend less money, but also so it looks like they didn't spend too much money.

What are some major design trends in kitchens right now?
There are a few very nice kitchen companies out there making very nice kitchens, which I see making more inroads into everything from spec condos to high end homes. These include Bulthaup, Arclinea, Siematic. Materials that are very popular are stainelss steel. The use of very smooth self closing hardware is popular, and so are very stricked out cabinets that increase storage and ease of use.

What's the most important thing to consider, as a cook, in designing a new kitchen or a kitchen renovation?
Overall layout.

What are some of the top desires and requests you hear from cooks who want to remodel their kitchen?
Mainly that they want it open to the rest of the house because they all know it will be the heart of the house. Aside from that, cooks request high-BTU gas ranges, and sometimes know exactly which ones they want.

What design decisions will you be making in the dream kitchen to help make it better for cooks?
Large counter space for prep combined with great appliances.

Tell us about three elements, design principles, or kitchen fixtures that you think always make a big difference in a kitchen.
Planning the kitchen around the clients aspirations and requirements is the overall thing to do and stick to. then I think a layout that flows well with prep, cooking, clean up, and serving needs to be executed well. After that its about selecting fixtures and applicances that fit the bill.

• Visit the Sunset Dream Kitchen website
• Visit CCS Architecture, Cass Calder Smith's San Francisco firm

Related: Ten Kitchen Improvements for Renters

(Image: CCS Architecture

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