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5 Elements of an Artful Kitchen

Summer projects are in full swing in South Florida!  In fact it’s the height of the busy season for most design professionals here.

Oceanside_OA5 (3)
A contemporary summer house kitchen by Wood-Mode. This is from their Oceanside collection. Finishes reflect the sand and sea and complement each other.

I don’t have to tell you that a new kitchen is a big investment, in fact the kitchen is the most expensive renovation you’re ever likely to undertake. It stands to reason that you’d want a kitchen that is tailor-made for you whether you can afford custom or not. This is what we’re all about at Artful Kitchens.

Flawless function behind the scenes from Poggenpohl
Flawless function behind the scenes from Poggenpohl

The concept of an “artful kitchen” has many different facets.  It is not just about budget or the amount of space you have but the skill you employ using what is available to you. Here are five tips to consider along with some visual inspiration featuring products I saw this year at the Kitchen & Bath Industry (KBIS) trade show in Las Vegas.  Implement these with style and confidence and you will be the proud owner of an artful kitchen!


1. Flawless Function

I’m all about artistic expression but a major part of creativity in the kitchen comes from devising flawless function.  This quality is not something you see but something you can experience, if artfully accomplished.  When I say function, I mean work centers comprised of cooking, clean up and food prep areas.

Steve Jobs quote

Those are the basics but you could have more such as a beverage center (think coffee, tea, wine), a computer station or a baking center.  If you have a two cook kitchen, your layout should be designed so that any one of the major functions can be preformed without anyone getting underfoot.

Precis sink by Blanco
I love Silgranit sinks by Blanco. They are practically indestructible and you can accessorize them to get the most out of a small space.

Following the guidelines set by the NKBA is a must to make sure all clearances are adequate. Sometimes we don’t have a lot of choice about where to locate our sink or appliances but we can organize our utensils, dishes, pots and food items in a more efficient way.  Don’t forget the more flawlessly your kitchen functions the safer it is. You don’t have to be an expert at this, just think about how you use your kitchen so that you will be a good collaborator when it comes time to work with a professional.

quote by Gloria Graham Sollecito, AKBD

2. Personalization

This is, without a doubt, the biggest movement in the design world.  An artful kitchen is your own personal statement customized to the way you live.  It could be a steam oven because healthy eating is your passion or it could be a lovely furniture piece with glass doors to display your grandmother’s china. Include the colors you love.  Even though you must be mindful of your budget (everyone has one), strive to retain the essence of what you see as your dream kitchen.

The Pet Parlor concept can be built into your laundry or utility room
The Pet Parlor concept by Wood-Mode can be built into your kitchen laundry or utility room and is a great example of personalization.

3. Harmony

Harmony is one of the principles of design and a must for your kitchen.  Whenever I design a two toned kitchen I like to ensure that different finishes and details are carried through the space to create a cohesive whole.  It’s about how the floor relates to the cabinets and  how the cabinet hardware relates to the faucet. You get the picture!  It does not mean that everything has to match perfectly, it means elements should relate to and complement each other. It also does not mean that every element has to be perfectly symmetrical.  In fact, consider this permission NOT to be! I find that the best rule of thumb is to follow the architecture and style of the home you’re in.  If, for example, the kitchen window is way off center you should work with that not against it.  Never force solutions by sacrificing function.

Wood-Mode Contemporary penthouse kitchen
This contemporary kitchen by Wood-Mode is a great example of asymmetry. Artful use of it can be liberating and visually interesting.


4. Focal Point

Every piece of great artwork has a focal point.  It is the “star of the show”, so to speak.  In a kitchen it can be a sculptural range hood, a granite counter with big bold movement or actually a piece of art! It is the item that makes you say WOW when you enter the kitchen.  Just remember less is more here.  One great focal point is probably enough.  Too much and the statement gets lost. Less is definitely more.

Transitional kitchen by Wood-Mode
This transitional design, also by Wood-Mode, features perfect symmetry as its focal point. Pops of color on counter and light fixture really sharpen the design! The texture on the back wall and a little on the cabinet center panels is just right.

5. Texture

The element of texture involves at least two of our senses, touch and sight.  The textures you are likely to come across include the glossy finishes popular in contemporary design, prominent wood grains which can be traditional or modern and smooth honed surfaces that are more matte.  A flat slab cabinet door is a great choice if you plan to use a wood with a lot of pattern and graining.  In this case the material is the decorative element of the cabinet.  On the other hand, if you are traditional and you are using white cabinets you can select a door with some molding or detail.  Also let the wild patterns either be on your cabinets or on you counter, both would be busy and distracting.

Contemporary kitchen with Sileston Nebula Alpha
Contemporary kitchen  featuring functional Silestone quartz counters in Ariel Nebula Alpha. That gorgeous painted glass backsplash is the focal point for me!

This is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.  There are many more tricks and methods to create an artful kitchen.  What are yours?  Please keep in touch and contact me. Whether you need a quick consult or a full design layout I can help in person or virtually.

Steam oven by Thermador
Steam cooking is really taking off and I know this is just the beginning. This oven is by Thermador. I love their Freedom induction cooktop too.  Induction is the most efficient way of cooking on a stove top.

I’m located in the West Palm Beach area, so if you’re local I can also help you shop for your kitchen products.



Gloria Graham-Sollecito

Gloria is a kitchen and bath cabinetry designer with AKBD certification from the National Kitchen & Bath Association. She has also served on the Florida Treasure Coast Chapter's Board of Directors as the VP of Communications. Her work has appeared on This Old House as well as in Florida Design Magazine, K+BB Magazine and the Palm Beach Post. She is co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Remodeling Your Kitchen, Illustrated, as well as a freelanced writer contributing occasionally to the Sun Sentinel in the area of kitchen design. She is a proud member of the Blanco Design Council and the illustrious Brizo Blogger 19.


Karen Fogel

Wow, thank you for sharing a good information and inspiration tips.

Gloria Graham-Sollecito

Thank you for stopping by, Karen, looking forward to hearing from you again soon.


Loved that post. It’s great to step back from the details of cabinets, colors etc. and think more broadly about the qualities you want to achieve. I’m increasingly seeing my kitchen as a workshop and refuge, not just a practical place to cook. Thanks!

Gloria Graham-Sollecito

Absolutely, Pam, I love your description of the kitchen as a “workshop and refuge”. That is exactly what the new vision of the artful kitchen is!

jasmine ramons

I have been searching for some crisp thoughts on how I will decorate my kitchen. I will clearly take after the tips that you have specified in your article. Thank you for sharing.

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