In describing traits of a contemporary kitchen, finishes are half of the design dialogue. The other half being the physical design of space planning – this will be discussed in the next blog post. With both aspects, whether you are into contemporary design or not, there are great design advances that can be integrated into your personal style. The important thing to note with these components is that they add up to a contemporary kitchen that is most importantly livable.
The traits I’ve isolated for the finish portion are as follows:
Bold colors, including white
The kitchen is no longer a place for a lone figure in a frilly apron; instead it has become a high-energy entertaining location. It would make sense to set the stage accordingly with vibrant colors. Kitchens integrated more and more seamlessly into the general décor and if that means you are doing a modernist palette, bring it on into the kitchen. This mentality is evident in all styles of kitchen design and painted cabinets are coming back in a big way.
Wood cabinetry and countertops are pushing the design envelope with grain, texture, and color. Wood will still find a place in most kitchens because of the warmth and the comfort of having an organic element amongst the shiny appliances and statement colors. Even the sleekest woods lend softness to contemporary spaces. You will notice that the wood is cut and finished in such a way to create a higher level of uniformity than say traditional knotty alder or large-grained oak.
These materials have become drivers in the design of the kitchen instead of just the occasional inset or artistic element. As a designer, there are fewer design limitations because the materials can do so much more and perform better – think heat-forming, laser-cutting, etc. This is a prime example of taking advantage of materials that are being used in contemporary design whether or not it is your cup of tea. I will post more about specific materials in the near future but I love the developments both in manufacturing and design that have been made especially in countertops, backsplash tile, and cabinetry materials and insets. Concrete, steel and solid surface is now more accessible and aesthetically pleasing; cabinetry is more durable and easily integrated into a specific palette, and all this is ultimately more environmentally friendly.
(Images courtesy of 3-Form, Varenna, Snaidero, Poggen Pohl, & Wolf)