Kitchen Case Study: A Warm, Minimal & Contemporary Kitchen
A Reflective Look at an Old Kitchen Design Project
Looking back over old kitchen design projects can be a great way to learn and find inspiration for new projects moving forward. And that’s exactly what I’m doing here!
I’m revisiting an old kitchen project I designed seven years ago. This introspective analysis allows me to evaluate the design, discuss the choices I made, and consider what changes I’d implement if given the opportunity.
So sit back and follow along as I talk through this warm, minimal and contemporary kitchen design project.
If you’d prefer, you can watch my video about this project here:
The Original Kitchen Design
This kitchen was a contemporary Italian design by Doimo Cucine, a company renowned for its modern, innovative and handleless kitchen designs. The standout feature of this particular kitchen range is the chamfered edge on the door, along with the horizontal and vertical handle rails (true handleless) that make accessing the doors and drawers a breeze.
The kitchen cabinets were chosen in a warm off-white beige colour with a matte finish, adding a soft and inviting atmosphere to the space. Contrasting the off-white cabinets, the kitchen island featured a wooden veneer finish with visible wood grain, painted in a light wood tone.
With quartz worktops, and the entire design set within a spacious room with vaulted ceilings and a mid to dark-toned wooden floor, the kitchen was a blend of functionality and style.
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Deconstructing the Kitchen Design
The design of the kitchen was centred around simplicity and symmetry, evident in the sink area with two wall cabinets symmetrically placed on either side of the window. Below the cabinets were base cabinets, six in total, all 60 centimetres wide.
The sink area was a large bowl-and-a-half stainless steel undermount sink with a Quooker boiling water tap and an integrated dishwasher.
The back wall of the kitchen housed tall cabinets providing ample storage. This area also featured a specially designed cut-out to break the monotony of a wall full of cabinets. This “drop zone” was conveniently placed for dropping keys, posts, or any miscellaneous items as you walk in from the side door.
Along the other side of the kitchen, we have a bank of tall cabinets. This section was deliberately set away from the entrance to prevent it from being overly obtrusive. The space was utilized to house a little built-in bench with a cushion on top, perfect for sitting and removing shoes.
The kitchen included two side-by-side integrated fridge freezers, a built-in double oven, a compact Combi oven (which also functioned as a microwave), a large warming drawer, and a full-height cabinet with shelves. The design of this kitchen carefully considered the placement of these appliances to facilitate easy access and unimpeded workflow.
The Kitchen Island: A Central Feature
The kitchen island was a central feature of the design, measuring 2.7 meters long by 1.1 meters wide. This offered ample space for a five-zone induction hob, wide drawers to store cutlery, utensils, and cooking pots and pans, and double-door cabinets with an open section serving as a bookcase on the back side of the island.
A wooden breakfast bar attached at the bottom of the island provided an informal seating area for two.
The absence of a cooker hood due to the vaulted ceiling was resolved by incorporating an extractor on the wall, just out of the way. This met the UK regulations for kitchen ventilation without compromising the aesthetics of the kitchen.
Lighting: Creating an Ambiance
The kitchen also showcased an effective use of layered lighting. Under cabinet lighting, movable spotlights in the ceiling, pendant lights above the kitchen island, and main lights at the top of the ceiling were individually controllable, enabling the creation of different lighting moods as per the requirements of the moment.
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A Look Back: What Would I Change?
Looking back, there are a few minor tweaks I would consider making. Although the kitchen is still highly functional with ample storage and workspace, I would reconsider elements such as the breakfast bar design, the stainless steel backsplash and glass shelf section, and the overall symmetry.
Breakfast Bar Design
In retrospect, while the breakfast bar attached to the island offered a casual seating space for two, I’d rethink its design.
I would have had the wooden section come further into the island a little and then be fixed from underneath, through the base cabinets. This would allow the breakfast bar to be fixed without the need for those brackets. Giving it a cleaner more contemporary look.
Or, perhaps, instead of using a wooden bar, I’d go for a quartz top to match the rest of the kitchen island, enhancing the continuity of the design.
Stainless Steel Backsplash and Glass Shelf Section
The stainless steel backsplash behind the hob and the glass shelf section were chosen for functionality and aesthetics. However, looking at current trends and with more options available now, I would consider replacing the stainless steel backsplash with some neutral glazed tiles or a matching quartz backsplash for a seamless look.
As for the glass shelf, I’d think about replacing it with open wooden shelving to match the wooden breakfast bar on the kitchen island, providing a more unified and warm look to the kitchen.
The Need for Symmetry
From the outset, the decision to stick with standard-size cabinets was financially motivated. Custom cabinets were not within our budget, and our available space dictated the best layout possible with standard sizes.
However, looking back, I wish we’d valued symmetry a bit more in our design process. The sink run was installed slightly off-centre from the window, and it stands out like a sore thumb to my symmetry-obsessed eye.
I wish we’d aligned the centre line of the two cabinets and the faucet with the middle of the window, which could have provided a more balanced aesthetic.
Balancing Cabinet Arrangements
Along similar lines, I regret not adding an additional cabinet at the end of the tall run. This extra cabinet could have added balance, with two tall cabinets on the left, two containing the ovens in the middle, and two on the right.
While the addition of another tall cabinet may have seemed like overkill at the time, given our ample storage, it could have added a sense of equilibrium to the overall design.
Functional Storage: A Missed Opportunity
Despite my kitchen’s generous storage space, in hindsight, I see an opportunity for increased functionality. If our budget had allowed, incorporating more practical storage solutions, such as pull-out drawers or wire works inside the tall cabinets, could have enhanced their utility.
A couple of these tall storage cabinets are dotted around the kitchen, and having more functional storage in just some of these could have significantly boosted the kitchen’s overall functionality.
Personal Preference: Darker Wood Tones
Lastly, on a purely personal note, I would’ve preferred a slightly darker wood tone or finish on the island. This change would have created more contrast between the island and the rest of the cabinets. While this point is subjective, a greater contrast could have provided a more striking and appealing look to the overall kitchen design.
Looking back is a great way to learn and grow as a designer. While the original design was functional and stylish, reflecting on it allows me to realize the potential for more contemporary tweaks that could enhance the kitchen’s aesthetic appeal and functionality even further.
After all, design is an ever-evolving field, and there’s always room for innovation and improvement. However, I still think that this is a very functional and beautiful kitchen seven years down the road.
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Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.