Memorable Kitchens Designs:

Go From Good To Great For Eat-In, Gathering Spaces

Article by Donna Hoffman/Interiors By Donna Hoffman

Photography by Bluebell Kitchens

Originally published in Newtown City Lifestyle

What makes a kitchen memorable? Is it cost? Color? Size? Style? It's less about any single one of these variables, and far more about the total, curated vision and materials throughout.

Large gesture items, such as cabinetry, tile and countertops, get all the initial attention. But the specific and intentional use of those materials, along with the total mix of all elements in the space -- to include light fixtures, furnishings, window coverings and even styling -- this is where the full magic happens.

As always, in the best interior design, design strategy and fine curation delivers the win.

Designer Flourishes

How one uses a material can be as interesting as the material itself. Move a backsplash tile beyond the standard, “counter-to-cabinet," location and excitement builds. Try running it from counter to ceiling, or at the front of an island.

Sizzle up the most standard island countertop material by letting it spill over the sides into a waterfall.

Opt for two of the same well-sized chandeliers above an island instead of one, or stagger the hanging heights of three, midsize fixtures or five, smaller fixtures and interest builds.

Using the predictable “material” in a larger or unexpected way adds impact.

Big “Bang For The Buck” Moves

Paint, wallpapers and furnishings are “go-to” lower cost, higher payoff options. As less costly items compared to cabinetry, stepping it up here can be easier. Try one of the following:

  • A bold geometric wallpaper in the breakfast room in a color that ties to the backsplash accent tile. Or, wallpaper the back panel of glass cabinetry.
  • A contrast color on an island brings zero upcharge. Consider repeating it in kitchen table chairs.
  • Try Parisian bistro chairs at kitchen tables or islands. Lower cost, great look!
  • A striking, well-sized Sputnik light fixture above the dining table provides instant eye candy.  

Higher Ticket Moves That Pay Off

Budget is always a good thing in a kitchen. Following are several places to direct it for higher impact.

A stunner custom island hood always provides “wow” factor; from metal, to metal with contrasting strap work to all millwork, the hood is a big opportunity to make a memorable statement.

Varying cabinet doors has great payoff. From glass fronts to metal inserts to inset metal accent detailing, cabinet doors continue to innovate for budgets that can enable them.

Ceiling details are a powerful flourish to lift any kitchen from “good to great." From handsome coffers to steep trays to what looks like plaster work, pay attention to the ceiling for big payoff. (I'm currently designing a kitchen with an unusually shaped, custom coffer at the breakfast table – it was just installed and it's a stellar note.)

Keep These In Mind When Designing Fab Kitchens

In the end, before falling in love with any one flourish or idea, optimal function must be designed first. Even the most stunning kitchen, if it functions poorly or uncomfortably, will drive a design lover batty.

Function first. Then beauty. Go get ‘em, beauties and gentlemen.  


About Donna Hoffman:  An interior design visionary in whole home, new construction and multi-room design, Donna says she uses her unique Wise Design process and sharp skill set to lead her team to create impeccable, multi-award-winning spaces that clients love. IDH has garnered 14 Designer of the Year awards from the International Design Society and American Society of Interior Design. Design showcased here:  Interiors by Donna Hoffman

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