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Modern materials, tech let kitchens blend into home design … |

Modern materials, tech let kitchens blend into home design …

Kitchens tend to be designed as star players on the residential stage. Their role is often aspirational — a pro chef’s lair, for example, or the country kitchen from that Italian movie you loved.


But there’s a different story being played out by some kitchen designers today: kitchens that merge seamlessly into the rest of the main living space.

Sometimes that’s because there are space limitations: a smallish apartment, for example, where the kitchen is cheek by jowl with every other room. Or there might be plenty of space but no walls, so each living zone flows into the next.

Some new kitchens

are nearly invisible; others employ decorative and design elements that assimilate them into the look of adjoining spaces. Cabinetry is the same style, color, material and finish as other furniture. The color palette is the same or complementary.

Lighting and accessories echo those in the principal rooms. Flooring is consistent throughout. Appliances are integrated. Even the island and countertops reflect materials used in adjoining spaces.

The Dunagan Diverio Design Group in Coral Gables, Florida, recently completed a Miami penthouse project with an open floor plan. The clients love to cook and needed lots of space that functioned well.

“But they also wanted the kitchen to have clean lines and be completely integrated into the home’s design,” said firm co-founder Charlotte Dunagan.

“We created a kitchen that flowed directly as part of the great room and living space. The concept we aimed for was to conceal as many of the appliances as possible, even going so far as to find a white oven to blend into the white cabinets.”

New York City designer Amir Khamneipur took a similar approach with his Park Avenue apartment.

“I used flat-panel, semi-gloss-painted cabinetry throughout my kitchen,” he said. “The flat panels allow the kitchen cabinets to read as architectural elements. The geometry, symmetry and balance of lines created by the cabinetry seams were purposefully aligned with mirror work and fireplace height. These different elements coincide to create a harmonious look.”

Modern materials and technology make “hiding”

kitchen elements easy. Smart induction cooktops are nearly unnoticeable when not in use. Appliances that formerly sat on

counters are now built into

drawers. LED lighting can be installed virtually anywhere.

Henrybuilt, a Seattle designer and maker of kitchen furniture and storage systems, offers solid-surface counters with drainage for the sink. Storage cubbies for tools, napkins and bread are built into milled wood counters, which are then extended to create eating tables.

Pay attention to how you illuminate the kitchen, said Sheva Knopfler, creative director of Brooklyn, New York-based Lights.com.

“The easiest way to streamline a kitchen,” she said, “is to incorporate simple lighting fixtures that blend in or almost disappear.”

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