30 Kitchen Ideas for Right Now


It’s said design by committee is a bad thing, but how can it be negative to have 30 ideas from some of California’s most innovative design pros that you can apply to the kitchen to make it work and look better? Most consider the kitchen the favorite room in the house. In honor of this affection and with the release of our Fall Kitchen and Bath issue, we’ve asked Golden State interior designers and architects for their best kitchen design ideas. 


1. Go High Contrast – Jennifer Robin Interiors (Jen MacDonald): “Mix materials and go high contrast. For example, in this kitchen classic white cabinetry and subway tiles are mixed with a modern black hood and dark stained floors to create contrast, while the reclaimed wood beams and wooden cabinetry add warmth and texture. Photography by Alyssa Rosenheck 

2. Turn Subway Tiles on Their Side –  Nest Design Co (Heather Brock and Jennifer Wundrow): “Many people love the subway tile look, and it’s the most cost-effective choice. Give it more interest by having the tile laid in a herringbone pattern.” Photography by Susanna Scott 

3. Try Statement Stools – Nest Design Co (Heather Brock and Jennifer Wundrow): “We find that our clients either want their bar stools to be a statement or to disappear. These clients chose the statement category, and the stools give the classic white kitchen a lively pop of color. And, in a busy household where the island is in a busy thoroughfare, purchase stools that can tuck in and under.” Photography by Susanna Scott 

4. Install Oversized Backsplash Tiles – Katie Raffetto Interior Design (Katie Raffetto): “Larger scale backsplash tiles are a trend we’re seeing more of. Reducing the number of lines in a backsplash pattern really stands up to the business of a kitchen!” Photography by Aubrie Pick 

5. Eliminate Upper Cabinets  – Katie Raffetto Interior Design (Katie Raffetto): “Eliminating upper cabinets opens up kitchens and give you the opportunity to accessorize with artwork and greenery—something I love to add to my kitchens.” Photography by Aubrie Pick 


6. Go Behind Closed Doors – Katie Raffetto Interior Design (Katie Raffetto): “Bespoke cabinetry with well-planned appliance storage helps to keep everyday items easily accessible but out of sight. These beautiful storage areas feature walnut lining and Calacutta marble bases to elevate the entire aesthetic in this kitchen. Function + form=solved.” Photography by Aubrie Pick 


7. Choose Easy Care for Some Clients – Cecy J Interiors (Cecily Mendell): “Often my clients just want easy. Caesarstone Calacatta Nuvo is a great imitative Calcutta Marble.” Photography by Paige Dunn 


8. Mix High and Low Appliances – Cecy J Interiors (Cecily Mendell): “If you’ve got your heart set on a showstopper range or refrigerator, find a price conscious dishwasher. Mixing and matching can give your kitchen an overall high-end and finished look.” Photography by Sean Dagen


9. Incorporate Smart Kitchen Technology – Kriste Michelini Interiors (Kriste Michelini): Kitchen technology has come a long way and we’re seeing a lot more automation in kitchen design. It can range from sensor-activated lights that illuminate when the kitchen is being used, meat thermometers that alert your smartphone when your meal is done, to simple hands free faucets. Kitchen technology can streamline your life and make cooking a whole lot easier. Photography by Thomas Kuoh 


10. Use Artisanal Tiles for A Vintage Appeal – Shelley & Co. Interior Design (Shelley Cahan): “Handcrafted ceramic tiles inject color, pattern and a vintage appeal.” Photography by Peter Medilek 


11. Warm with Copper (It’s Having a Material Moment) – Jennifer Robin Interiors (Jen MacDonald): “This copper farmhouse sink and stunning copper hood take the copper trend one step further in this beautiful kitchen design. The mirrored backsplash reflects outdoor light throughout the room and opens up an otherwise small kitchen space.” Architecture by Wade Design Architects; photography by Paul Dyer 


12. Bring the Outdoors In – Jennifer Robin Interiors (Jen MacDonald): “Wake up a traditional white kitchen with a beautiful accent color from the outdoors. The green-tiled backsplash and bar seating echo the greenery outside and take this indoor/outdoor kitchen to a whole new level.” Architecture by Wade Design Architects; photography by Paul Dyer 


13. Add Warmth to Contemporary Design – Koch Neve Interior Design (Jeffrey Neve): “Warm up a contemporary kitchen by mixing a variety of textures and finishes in the design. A textured brown finish on the lower cabinets and island combines with white glossy finish on the uppers.” Photography by Scott Hargis 


14. Be Bold With Your Banquette Seating – Shelley & Co. Interior Design (Shelley Cahan): “Banquette seating is here to stay, but the textiles used don’t have to be simply solids or stripes. A playful pattern adds visual interest to this seating area.” Photography by Peter Medilek 


15. Play the Long Game with Drawer Pulls – Nest Design Co (Heather Brock and Jennifer Wundrow): “We are all used to seeing the standard 4-inch kitchen drawer pull. Make it more unique by adding longer pulls on the drawers.” Photography by Susanna Scott 


16. Mix, Don’t Match – Kimberley Larzelere Interiors (Kimberly Larzelere): “Bright cabinets and white leather chairs provide dramatic contrast to the rich hue of the distressed wood table and stone center island, while polished nickel pendants play off the chrome mesh doors to create a beautifully layered look in this striking kitchen.” Photography by Christopher Stark 


17. Make Use of Extra Space – Cecy J Interiors (Cecily Mendell): “For this project, we actually did open shelves in front of the windows. Space was limited and it was not much a view out the windows so we grabbed the light and stole the space. Photography by Paige Dunn 


18. Lighting is Everything – Cecy J Interiors (Cecily Mendell): “Nothing says custom kitchen like a beautiful pendant or custom sconces. The soft light versus harsh recessed lighting is everything.” Photography by Paige Dunn 


19. Play with Pattern – Cecy J Interiors (Cecily Mendell): “Backsplash tile with a pattern can feel scary and busy but if it’s done right, it can actually make a space feel quiet and cozy. Tabarka Studio is my go to.” Photography by John Merkl 


20. When it comes to drawers, go big – Workroom C (Carolyn Rebuffel): “When picking drawer size, go bigger when possible. It’s often hard to keep track of everything that’s stored on shelves, whereas with large drawers, you can always see what is inside from the front to the back. They’re a much better use of space and often age well within the space.” Photography by Eric Zepeda 


21. Pick durable finishes – Workroom C (Carolyn Rebuffel): “I also recommend picking durable finishes that will acquire a patina rather than look worn and torn. The countertops used in this project are soapstone, the same stone used in chemistry labs so they’ll last for years and years to come.” Photography by Eric Zepeda 


22. Create work space divisions – Workroom C (Carolyn Rebuffel): “When it comes to designing for function, I like to create smaller work spaces within the larger space—wine storage, glassware, ice maker, and a hand sink in one area; baking trays, ingredients, and surfaces beside the oven; and recycling, garbage, and closet space near the closest door. Photography Eric Zepeda 

23. When Applicable, Add Tech – Workroom C (Carolyn Rebuffel): “I really appreciate the power of technology in the kitchen. Automatic sinks, paper towel dispensers, recycle and trash can lids are so helpful for keeping muss and fuss to a minimum.” Photography Eric Zepeda 


24. When it comes to cabinets, think efficiency –  Kari McIntosh Design (Kari McIntosh): “For more storage in the kitchen take the cabinets all the way to the ceiling, utilize deep drawers instead of shelves for bowls, hang pots and pans for ease of use and to free up cabinet space, add sliding inserts for utensils to double the storage and never underestimate the power of a pull-out storage for narrow space (great for spices and pantry goods).” Photography Julie Mikos 


25. Don’t be afraid to rewrite history – Lane McNab Interiors (Lane McNab): “Living in Berkeley and being surrounded by classic architecture of the Arts and Crafts era, I design a lot of kitchens that have a Craftsman feel. Clients can be nervous about updating a home from an historic era but Craftsman homes are really versatile and translate well to today’s aesthetic—warm wood tones, grounded in nature, and colorful accents.” Photography Lauren Edith Anderson 


26. Make it personal – Lane McNab Interiors (Lane McNab): “The owner of this kitchen is French and wonderful chef so she was anxious to have a functional and beautiful space that referenced the Parisian cafes she knew growing up while also respecting the architecture of their early 1900s home.” Photography Lauren Edith Anderson 


27. Different styles can work together – Lane McNab Interiors (Lane McNab): “In this same kitchen, we used encaustic cement tiles for the backsplash in a bold colorway with colors that reference the warmth and charm of a Craftsman home but in a pattern that could be found in many French cafes. We also referenced the traditions of the era by specifying inset face-frame cabinets in a split Shaker style that look and feel like furniture. Soapstone counters are a classic touch and get more beautiful as they age.” Photography Lauren Edith Anderson 


28. Consider the relationship of adjoining rooms – Marsh & Clark Design (Stephanie Marsh Fillbrandt): “This home is formal and elegant, and since the kitchen opens to it, it has to blend with the larger living space. We made it happen with color and metallic accents.” 


29. Embrace the view – Verner Architects (Stephen Verner): “There’s a great view from this kitchen, and we framed it with large windows, moving storage elsewhere to take full advantage.” Photography by Paul Dyer 


30. Consider making the range hood interesting – JTA Architects (Jennifer Tulley): “Ventilation hoods are focal points, but they are often hulking, industrial appliances. They don’t need to be. In this Sonoma County farmhouse, we clad the hood in reclaimed wood to make it a warm and interesting sculptural element.” Photography courtesy of JTA

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