Karl Lohnes: Things to do and avoid when designing an open kitchen – Montreal Gazette

These six tips will ensure your kitchen is functional and blends seamlessly into the open-concept space around it.
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Open kitchens have been popular in design for many years. They make neighbouring spaces look larger, they keep family members connected to one another, and they allow for an easier flow when entertaining.

My issue with open kitchens is that they’re often designed with a different esthetic than the rest of the living space, resulting in a kitchen that stands out rather than blends in and can often date itself. If you’re thinking about creating an open-concept kitchen (or renovating your existing open kitchen), I’ve come up with six designer dos and don’ts that will help give the space longevity, make it practical and ensure it integrates seamlessly into the rest of your open-concept space.

If your open-concept space has various long-term finishes, such as wood flooring, painted built-ins or dark-framed windows, then it’s important to incorporate those elements into your kitchen design, or at least let them inspire elements in the kitchen.

Choose dark counters to match window frames in the living area, for instance, or wood lower cabinetry that is a shade lighter or darker than the floors. The goal is to connect the kitchen to the overall space — there’s no need to reinvent the wheel by bringing in new colours and finishes.

Many beautiful kitchens have a hardwood floor that runs from other areas (like the living and dining areas) into the kitchen. In most cases, this is very impractical — especially for busy families or people who like to cook a lot. My suggestion is to choose a stone or durable flooring surface that visually blends in tone and colour to your wood floors but is more resistant to the wear and tear of a hard-working kitchen where water and other liquids might damage wood.

Since the area around a stove and sink cannot be panelled or disguised, make them the stars. Spend your money on an attractive stove and an impressive sink with an on-trend faucet (the jewelry of the kitchen). This will make these two important, functional areas of the kitchen stand out as features. Bonus: You will love looking at them, and they will do much to establish the unique design of the space.

White counters are immensely popular. I feel many homeowners are afraid that, without a white countertop, their new kitchen will be too dark. If other elements in your open-concept space, such as the walls or built-ins, are white, then white counters can work. But if you don’t have a lot of white in your open-concept space, then avoid it. I like to identify the most natural colour in an open-concept space (it’s usually the wood flooring) and choose a much lighter version of that for the countertop colour.

The goal of an open kitchen is to perform its kitchen duties while it stands in the background and complements the rest of your open-concept space. Hiding many of its functional features, such as the microwave, fridge, dishwasher and range hood, makes the kitchen feel less utilitarian and more like the rooms it opens onto. Panelling the refrigerator and dishwasher, installing a slim range hood (or panelling the front of it) and locating your microwave and wall ovens below counter height are ways to make these elements disappear.

Many people choose stand-out cabinet designs when they plan a new kitchen, but don’t let the latest trend lead you astray. Again, look at the space you have and let it inspire your kitchen cabinetry style. If you have beautiful heirloom Arts and Crafts furniture, then choose shaker-style, cherry-wood cabinetry. Got a 1970s modern style in your condo? Then flat, slab doors may be the most suitable.

Do you have a decor dilemma or want to give feedback? You can contact Karl on Instagram at @karl_lohnes.

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