Design that Shines, Day 3

Elevating this kitchen from run-of-the-mill rustic is a gleaming streak of stainless steel cabinet doors. The metal again proves its mettle as the great neutral material; as it amplifies light and color, it manages to support, not dominate, all the other elements in the room.

And now for some sparkle of a different sort: It's time for Champagne! Happy New Year to you all, dear readers. Thank you for reading and sharing KBCULTURE. Until tomorrow....

Design that Shines, Day 2

Glinting with gold and silver highlights, this ceramic tile is unexpectedly nuanced. Not only is the glazing technique painterly, but the color tones are amazingly subtle, too. Orione Mix from the Pegaso collection would make a chic, shining backsplash or feature wall in a shower.

Design that Shines

This week, in a tip of the pointy party hat to New Year's festivities, I'll be posting on places and products that have a bit of sparkle, metallic or crystal, to them. To start is this palette-pushing kitchen, which bridges gold and silver elements with a sprout-like shade of green. This combination of materials and color is a new one, for me; at least in natural light, it works.

Salmonella, Santa?

All I want for Christmas is a pink and yellow kitchen. [Not really.] Peeking in the window, Saint Nicholas seems mesmerized, but maybe he's simply scoping out the location of the cookie jar. Or perhaps he's having second thoughts about visiting this 1953 household; given the raw turkey left on the work table, the occupants don't seem too concerned about sanitary food preparation. That's a definite 'naughty'—looks like this home's stockings might be filled with coal.

Oh, Little Star...

...of Bethlehem, or Broadway, or Bangkok—it matters not. Peace and joy to you all, dear readers.

Tonight's the Night

With a certain red-suited someone due to hurtle down chimneys this evening, I give you a simple kitchen fireplace for this Christmas Eve post. [I'm sure Santa will appreciate the proximity of the cookie jar.] The counter-height firebox is the way to go, especially if you're a hipster dabbling in hearth cooking—or a plump, jolly old elf who needs an ergonomic access route.

Limited Shelf Life

Count me among those who are happy to see the open-shelf detail recede from the scene. The stuff arranged on the ledges always seems forced—whether coordinated or eclectic, the vignettes are brittle in their perfection. These large sliding panels give the kitchen a cleaner look than shelves or conventional cupboards, without sacrificing either storage capacity or accessibility. And there's no pressure to design their contents.

Low-Key Kitchen

I'm sure the understated appearance of these cabinets belie the great effort behind their design. The barn-door hardware is beautifully crafted, and the simple, crate-like drawer boxes add just the right amount of color to the composition. [Did you notice they're red and green? It's my nod to the holidays.] Depending on the materials used for the floor, walls, and counter surfaces, this kitchen could go high style or revert to its utilitarian origins.

Don't Look Now...

And in this phantom kitchen, there's no refrigerator-, sink-, or cabinet-watching, either...but I digress. Burners and ovens that can be set to turn off automatically—what's not to like? I imagine that the prospect of a defective timer may have doomed this 1959 feature. Or perhaps it was a cooktop filled with perpetually roiling soups and stews; let's recall the warning of the old adage, 'A watched pot never boils.'

Edgy Design

Valencia-based Mut Design devised this collection of ceramic tiles after studying the way light plays off fish scales; they noted that color tends to seep and shimmer across the surface in an irregular, ripply kind of movement. Similarly, the colored edges of these tiles reflect onto the adjacent white area, creating luminous lines of yellow, blue, red, and green. A most unusual effect, I say.

Split Personality

While the wisdom of placing a soaking tub next to a window is a matter of personal preference, it's likely all will agree on the nifty way this bathroom is delineated through a judicious use of materials. The patterned marble that wraps the shower enclosure falls away on the walls around the tub, ensuring that alcove—exposed thought it may be—enjoys a calm, visually serene ambiance.

A Matter of Style

The carved walnut frame on the Armonia console sink is a lovely departure from the ordinary. I see a bit of both mid-century design and Antoni Gaudí [quite the mix!] in its light, fluid lines. Creator Roberto Lazzeroni has posed a problem with the fixture, though: I think it would be very challenging to pair it with a complementary fitting.

Excitingly Dull

Making its debut early next year at the LivingKitchen show, the Topaz kitchen system merges two powerhouse design trends: black cabinets and copper accents. What's notable here is the 180º shift from shiny surfaces. It's not just taking the finish down a notch to semi-gloss—it's absolutely, positively flat. The matte door fronts and laminate [!] counter are an ideal foil for the warm metal hardware on the drawers and the Küppersbusch appliances.

Tastes, Tested

Personally, I think a cantaloupe-cream combination would be rather sublime, but let's not cast any shade on Admiral's 1955 innovation. And I don't mean that metaphorically, either; the 'technology' employed by the manufacturer to minimize flavor transfer is—wait for it—a light bulb. Not just any light bulb, of course. The 'Magic Ray' lamp allegedly emitted ozone, which supposedly kept fruit tasting like fruit instead of dairy products.

All Walls

Not all bathrooms have sun-filled, Palladian windows framing a freestanding tub. [Thank goodness.] Some are awkward, dead-ended spaces. This is a novel way to loosen up a closed-off room; pull the sink away from the wall and float the mirror from the ceiling.

Sight Specific

'Waste No Space' might well be the mantra for the entire kitchen industry, from cabinet and appliance manufacturers to designers to consumers. Berlin-based artist Michael Johansson puts this issue in a wholly new perspective, as he fastidiously fits the components of a typical kitchen into a tight composition. Compressed into a single wall, 'Ghost V' offers a revealing lesson in spatial relationships and materialism.

Tap the Tap

Unlike many digital devices, the controls of the e.tap are prominently positioned, making it easy to operate. The fitting's good design notwithstanding, I wonder just how useful it is to know the exact temperature of the water. Too hot, by any measure, experiential or empirical, is too hot.

A Kitchen for Not-Quite Winter

Leafless trees, stark against a thick white sky, branches bent against the cold winds; we're in the anti-Currier and Ives phase of winter. This kitchen bears a similarity to the landscape, with its barren-brown cabinets offset by cool, neutral steel.

Unclear on the Concept

I don't get it: In 1963, did people store food in their cars? Or park their cars in the kitchen? A refrigerator in the garage wasn't that unusual, either—so what's going on in this scenario, Westinghouse? A scan of the copy somewhat solves the mystery. It turns out this three-door fridge had sufficient capacity to hold enough victuals to eliminate a few of the weekly runs to the grocery store. All well and good. But one question remains: What of the rake?

New + Different

This wedge-shaped cabinet extends down to the countertop, claiming the backsplash—an often underutilized space—in the process. I like the radical spin it puts on the typically boxy geometry of cupboards. The precision craftsmanship of the Solitaires kitchen units is incredible—a work of fabrication art.

A Light in the Night

Because there isn't a marketing department on earth that doesn't love consumer surveys, we are in a position to know a lot about little things. For example: The most popular use of a range hood is as a nightlight—who knew? These illuminated door handles may offer an option to that behavior. In a boon for midnight snackers, LEDs embedded in the cabinet fronts can be switched on to add a glow to the perimeter of the kitchen.

Two Timing

I love the way this design creates an invented history at the same time it makes a contemporary statement. Cut back to frame the sink, the oak paneling reveals a 'substrate' of marble, suggesting there exists an older structure behind the wooden wall.

An Appetizing Kitchen

Looking at this kitchen, I see swirls of cappuccino crema. Or maybe dissolving ribbons of hot chocolate. [Apologies: I'm obviously suffering the after-effects of a Thanksgiving food coma.] Still, the veining of the stone and the graining of the wood are definitely sumptuous, if not edible. The matte finish of the wall is most impressive; had it been polished, there would likely be a scattering of light reflections disrupting the pattern.

Giving Thanks, the Finale

In the wake of yesterday's good-spirited gluttony, today [and possibly for several weeks hence] leftovers shall reign at the dinner table. There would certainly be ample room in this 1950 home freezer for pie, stuffing, gravy, pie, drumsticks, sweet potatoes, and pie.

Giving Thanks, Day 4

I started today off by inventing a new yoga position: the Turkey Squat. Actually, I was maneuvering a twenty-six pound/twelve kilo bird into our under-counter oven, and the experience quite viscerally reminded me to lift with your legs, not with your back. This oven, which rises upwards for loading, would make that awkward experience a thing of the past.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.

Giving Thanks, Day 3

Despite the holiday, there will be some very early risers tomorrow morning. Those who are charged with overseeing the preparation of Mr. Tom Turkey will be the first up and about, quite likely before dawn. It is to these folks that I dedicate this post, featuring an ingenious solution called the Compact4All. Four appliance modules—toaster, juicer, coffee maker, and hot water kettle—can be stretched out linearly or stacked up as shown to make breaking the fast a centralized, step-saving procedure.

Giving Thanks, Day 2

Such a countertop arrangement—a meeting of two materials, stone and wood—would stand any kitchen in good stead for the upcoming cooking marathon. One heat-proof, one knife friendly, the surfaces cover all the bases.

Giving Thanks, Day 1

While the tabletop harvest of gourds and pumpkins is in the spirit for this week's Thanksgiving, I think this kitchen is more than superficially set for the holiday. Durable materials hold up to the rigors of the preparing the biggest of feasts, and the efficient galley layout minimizes the running about the room.

Everything—and More

Well, Tappan, this kitchen actually has even more than you reckon. In addition to the full complement of your appliances, it has an overload of 1970s decorating touches. The fake brick chimney. The gastrointestinal shade of yellow that coats the floor, walls, and counters. And let's not forget the wood-grain [as opposed to wood] cabinets. Come to think of it, those features are the likely reasons why the kitchen was missing 'you.'

Pilar of Strength

This unseasonable, nation-wide cold snap instigates escapist thoughts on a long, hot soak. To that end, the Arris tub filler offers more than modern good looks; the fitting has been designed to anchor especially securely to the floor joists, thus eliminating the dreaded wobble that typically afflicts similar freestanding fillers.

Sitting Pretty

And so it is again World Toilet Day. The point of this annual observance, of course, is to raise awareness of poor sanitary conditions around the globe. At the same time, there's no harm in raising awareness of the outstanding appearance of the Reve commode. Some squarish toilets look like sitting would be painful, but the softened design of this model takes the edge off that experience.

Thinking Big

Cramped and high-windowed, this powder room would be a melancholy space indeed if it were not for the ambitiously scaled sink. That wall-to-wall block of marble challenges the space—and wins. I would have liked to have witnessed [from a safe distance] the delivery and installation of that weighty fixture.

Old and [Mostly] New

I'm impressed with how the smallest of vintage features—the beamed ceiling and chandelier—imbue this otherwise contemporary kitchen with a comfortable grace. Another seemingly contradictory aspect of the design: Even though it has dark cabinets and floors, the room appears bright. Lovely.

To New Heights

The tallest highrise in New York—1 World Trade Center—officially opened this week. It's been a long time in coming, to say the least. Of its 104 stories, 68 will house offices and 13 are devoted to mechanical systems. The basement alone is five floors. That's half the height of the apartment building depicted in this 1931 advertisement, whose 'cliff dwellers' would enjoy the then-modern convenience of sliding refrigerator shelves. As NYC is, shall we modestly say, a slightly competitive environment, let me counter that boast with another engineering factoid: The elevators in 1WTC are the fastest in the western hemisphere, traveling 23 miles per hour to reach the top floor in 60 seconds.


Opposites, Attracting

Such a compelling mix of colors and textures, here. What makes it special, I think, is the dark grout, which pops the pillowy tile into the foreground. Of course, the asymmetric composition does stick in the mind's eye, too, but I keep coming back to the tile, almost arrogant in its curious, funky shape.

Kitchen Sink Caddy

[This post's a shout-out to my car-crazed friends in Benton Harbor, Michigan; Pleasantville, New York; and Saudi Arabia—you know who you are.]

Giving new meaning to take-out dining, this Sixty Special Fleetwood was one of four Cadillac concept cars made in 1956. With the shotgun seat replaced by a refrigerator, hot plate, sink, toaster, and storage, I'll assume the driver never went hungry during road trips.

Why Not?

Here's something different: brass bath fittings that are encased in reclaimed blackbutt [a variety of eucalyptus] wood or cast in concrete. Meticulously handcrafted, these showerheads, taps, and spouts have a straightforward, geometric design. A fairly specialized look, it's doubtful the collection will be toppling chrome from its pedestal—alas—but that is hardly the point of the matter. It's all about individuality.

Kitchen for Reflection

In truth, not all kitchens are made for cooking. This design, I think, is more attuned to the needs of the psyche than the stomach. The patterned floor gives the space an upbeat tempo, while the proportions of the room, natural materials, and muted, neutral color palette all serve to soothe.

One Word, Benjamin...

...Plaskon. [My apologies to Mike Nichols and Dustin Hoffman.]

Hopefully by the time the Graduate had his abbreviated career counseling session, the chemistry of the material in question had evolved from its 1937 formula; in this ad, the manufacturer proudly cites formaldehyde as an ingredient. Who cared if perishable [ahem] foods were surrounded by such noxious stuff—it brought "beauty and permanent color" to the appliance.

A digression: The proofreader in me insists on noting that while the boast of ten Plaskon parts are in every fridge, I count only nine arrows highlighting the feature.

Pouring It On

A frankly glamorous interpretation of the boiler-room style of plumbing, the hefty Regulator kitchen faucet, in either its single- or double-spout design, physically commands the sink. Wielding the veggie sprayer gives one a certain sense of invincibility, as does pivoting the central knob-topped control lever. I'm not accustomed to a fitting that exudes such an aura of power—but I could get used to it.


The elegance of this bath is wonderfully modern. Elongated arches playing against straight lines, machined steel meeting natural marble, and the soft but bright light—all these elements combine in a near-perfect manner. To say more would take away from the experience of the fabulous design, so I'll just step away from the keyboard, now.

Ring of [Faux] Fire

In the world of technology, there are the early adopters, there are the Luddites, and in between are the uncommitted-but-persuadables. It is to those teeming masses I direct this post. To wean people off the visible cue of gas flames and introduce them to induction cooking, the folks at Samsung have devised an illusion. Turn the control knob to set the heat of each burner, and blue licks of LED-light 'fire' rise up and down the walls of the pan, indicating the temperature setting.

Looking Ahead

Although we have reveled in an early autumn that has been distinctly summer-like, the snow that hit our friends to the north today is a reminder of the inevitable. This kitchen, with its flurry of pendant lights and cool palette, is my abstract acknowledgement of the winter that will eventually arrive.

Bewitching Design, The End

Does this gentleman look familiar? Perhaps if he was swathed in head-to-toe gauze, or had bolts coming out of his neck, it would be easier to put a name to the face: It's William Henry Pratt, better known by his stage name—Boris Karloff. To see Dr. Frankenstein's Monster puttering about in the kitchen of his Los Angeles home during the 1930s is somewhat of a reverse shock; we expect less domesticity and more horror from the fellow who [dis]embodied the Mummy.

Have a frightful Halloween, dear readers.

Bewitching Design, Part Four

Particularly in a windowless, cramped powder room, I can imagine this subversive wallpaper would make an indelible impression. A C.F.S. Voysey pattern from 1889, the writhing population of beady-eyed, flame-tongued demons is a far cry [or should I say 'wail'?] from conventional floral or geometric decor.

Bewitching Design, Part Three

Talk about things that go bump[y] in the night! Set with coal-colored pebbles whose smooth, irregular forms recall knuckle bones and vertebrae, this highly textured bathroom wall evokes the catacombs that snake below the realm of the living.

Bewitching Design, Part Two

By day, this pendant light is a frothy ball of filigree, in the Tord Boontje vein. But come nightfall, its dark side is revealed, as it projects a haunted forest on the walls and ceiling of the room. The creepy Forms in Nature fixture was designed by Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz.

Bewitching Design

For me, Halloween hinges not on the obvious—in-your-face costumes, scream-filled soundtracks, and the like—but on the shadowy. Uncertainty, rather than shock value, is what makes the night a fright. The bold colors of this kitchen are static until the lights come on, the eerie glow making the cabinets appear to levitate in thin air.

Power Shower

Pip-pip, old man.

These gents apparently had more pressing matters to which to attend than lolling around in a bath tub; certainly there were meetings to take and fortunes to make. In 1925, a shower had the cachet hot tubs enjoyed in the 1970s. Not just a convenience, the shower connoted a level of civility, success, and a modern outlook on life. Today, having a temperature-controlled waterfall in our home is no longer appreciated as the plumbing achievement it truly is.

Quick Change Artistry

Not everyone has the character to weather the design and construction process. Dirty and drawn out, it's hardly aesthetic instant gratification. To the rescue comes the Cover system. When the mood to change the kitchen cabinets strikes, simply switch out the magnetized panels that cover the door fronts. No muss, no fuss.