7 Elements of design, staging for everyday living: Kitchen
Last week we provided an overview of the 7 Elements of Design. Now, we’ll put them into practice, starting with the kitchen. As you’ll recall, the elements are; space, line, form, light, color, texture and pattern.
Considering item / location organization before design is an easy trap to fall into. And, it can take a good amount of planning and forward thinking to ensure you don’t fall into it. Interestingly enough, there is a reasonable amount of crossover planning in the two.
1. Space: Ensuring the sizes of visible items in your kitchen are congruent with one another, and the physical boundaries of the room, will help ensure spatial aesthetics. This includes the size of the cabinets, overhead lighting, sink, appliances, artwork, the windows, and entry or pantry doors. I’m sure we’ve all seen the under-sized (or giant) refrigerator, seriously wrong sized hanging lights, or the tiny window over the sink, (this sizing error can usually be offset by flanking the window with art, design tile, additional decorative lighting, curtains, etc. to increase the subliminal perception of overall size). And, don’t forget the triangle! If you’re fortunate enough to design your kitchen from the walls out, be sure to keep your refrigerator, stove and sink in a working triangle with space for people to pass one another safely. This work area will save you organizational steps and help ensure the best lighting.
2. Line: Choosing a focal point where one’s eye can rest will ease the brain’s struggle to make sense out of what’s happening in the room. One way of doing this is by playing up structural design; i.e., high ceiling, unique backsplash, no-door cabinets, vintage stove, view of the side yard… The eye, and therefore the mind, can take in the view without getting lost in multiple directions. Loss of focal point in the kitchen is most often related to the amount of clutter on the counters, above the cabinets, on the stove, and on top of the refrigerator. Staging for everyday living will include removing, organizing, and stowing these items.
3. Form: Repeating patterns, while not overdoing it, also gives a sense of congruency. Cabinets are the most likely leader in this quest. If there are rectangular / squared off inserts, you may want to follow suit with rectangular pulls, art that includes squared off edges or depictions, and hand towels with clean lines. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a round clock on the wall, especially if rounded corners are the design in the adjoining room. Just being aware of multiple patterns is half the battle.
4. Light: In the kitchen appropriate and inviting lighting are essential! By planning where your work stations (food prep, cooking, coffee/tea, cleaning, and serving) will be will direct what type and amount of lighting is required. Example: Canister lighting overhead provides an excellent range of light. A few of these independent lights can be directed at one or more work stations. Not only will the direct light be efficient, it will also give your kitchen character.
5. Color: Dark kitchen? Brighten it up with lighter colored cabinets. At first blush this seems obvious. However, you’d be surprised how many home builders and designers choose to put dark paint and dark colored cabinets in an already low natural light space. As always, keep the color palette used in the rest of your home in consideration when designing, organizing and decorating your kitchen. For best results, keep the main palette limited to three colors. This is especially important if your kitchen is part of a ‘great room’.
Example: Your creative color palette is teal, yellow and red throughout your home. If you’d like some accent paint in the kitchen, you may want a lighter version of the teal or yellow. Red can be beautiful. Just keep in mind not only is a red a difficult color to keep consistent (as manufacturers produce ‘tons’ of versions of it!), it also evokes excitement, passion, intimacy and appetite. And, if there isn’t plenty of natural light, red will darken and visually shrink a room’s size – quickly!
6. Texture: This is an easy category to overlook in the kitchen. The kitchen actually has a lot more than you might think, including; metal appliances, wood cabinets, stone countertops, throw or area rugs, backsplash tile, hand towels, paper towels, tile or plank flooring, stainless steel or porcelain sink…Even though we don’t consciously consider these items’ texture, our eye / mind does. We can’t avoid having somewhat of a mixture. We can, however, when the timing and budget is right, avoid an overabundance. At minimum – matching the color of your appliances will be less confusing for one’s mind. And, the reduction of multiple patterns will assist in the process.
7. Pattern: Consistent and repetitive design within a space provides an unconscious aesthetic continuum. By having a low-competition pattern (concentration on curves, edges, squares, stripes, question mark shape…) it can become a focal point or a subtle way of keeping design lines in harmony. An example of this, for the creative designer, would be horizontal black and white striped wallpaper or tile behind the cabinets all the way to the countertop or backsplash. This could be horrifying if the countertop had a swirling, multi-colored granite counter top. When done right, say with a solid black Corian© counter and neutral pattern flooring, the eye immediately takes in the stripes as the focal point. The continued striped pattern can be in the grain of the cabinets, the rectangular shape of the pulls, straight lines of the fixtures, and the artwork.
Staging for everyday living starts with the basic design. And, as you probably noticed, the underlying theme to design is being congruent throughout the home – in all 7 design elements; space, line, form, light, color, texture, and pattern.
Kathryn Hisert's experience includes 30+ years of sales and marketing. This includes having been a Realtor for over a decade, a Marketing association president, and an Accredited Staging Professional. She is currently a member of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing), National and Arizona Realtor associations and various home staging groups.