4 Controversial Kitchen Design Decisions That People Love to Argue About

published Apr 13, 2018
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(Image credit: www.saritarelis.com)

Mentioning the word controversy in connection with home decor may seem a little silly. But if you read the comments on pretty much any design-related post on our site or our sister site, Apartment Therapy, you will learn that decorating decisions can be very contentious indeed. People have strong opinions, and nowhere is that more true than in the kitchen.

I’ve rounded up four elements of kitchen design that people tend to have especially strong opinions about, and debated the merits of each. Where do you fall?

(Image credit: Federico Paul)

1. Open shelving

One of the biggest trends for the modern kitchen is also one of the most controversial. Open shelving looks great, sure, but only if you own carefully curated dishes in exactly the same shade of white. For more plebian kitchenwares, things get a bit messier.

Fans of open shelving love the airy look it gives to a kitchen, and the ease of accessing things stored on the shelves. Naysayers, presumably, would rather hide away their unsightly kitchenware. But the concern I hear most from the anti-open-shelving crowd is that dishes sitting out in the open would gather dust and grease.

(Image credit: Anik Polo)

2. No upper cabinets at all

An even more dramatic change than trading your upper cabinets for open shelving is not having any upper cabinets at all. People have very strong feelings about this — I once overheard an architect saying that he consented to add upper cabinets to the kitchen of the home he designed for his parents only after his mother cried.

On the pro side, leaving out the upper cabinets can really transform the look of a kitchen. It opens up the space dramatically and allows for uninterrupted stretches of windows you could only dream of in a more traditional kitchen. The drawbacks are pretty obvious, which is that everything in your kitchen has to be stored below counter height, so you’re going to be squatting — a lot.

(Image credit: www.saritarelis.com)

3. Open kitchens vs. closed kitchens

This is a controversy that I didn’t even realize was a controversy until I started reading the comments on Apartment Therapy’s Sweeten posts. In these projects, many of which are remodels of apartments that are 60 to 80 years old, lots of homeowners choose to tear down the walls surrounding their kitchen and unite the space with the living room.

I love to entertain, so I’ve always taken it as a given that it was a good thing to be able to interact with your guests while you cook or make drinks. Something like this kitchen above, open to the living room and with a big island for friends to gather, would be my dream. But many of you disagree, preferring that the kitchen (and its associated messes) remain hidden from sight.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

4. Marble countertops

It’s easy to see why marble countertops are popular: They’re timeless and cool to the touch and just so, so pretty. (Read: My Experience of Living With Marble Countertops: One Year Later from Faith Durand, Kitchn’s Editor-in-Chief.) But marble countertops also have a lot of haters, mostly because they’re so high-maintenance.

Forget about having a party and leaving the cleanup to the next morning. Forget about drinking red wine or squeezing citrus without worrying about staining or etching your countertop. But then, that white marble is just so beautiful. And some folks of a more relaxed disposition think that the wear that marble inevitably accrues only add to its charm.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Controversial Kitchen Design Decisions That People Love to Argue About

Which sides do you fall on when it comes to these four issues?