Daily Archives: April 14, 2014

kitchen: material inspiration

Last week I showed you some basic massing / programmatic layouts of a possible addition and talked about the key pieces I’d put into a new kitchen design. This week I’m going to build on those ideas a bit and flesh out a few more details, starting with material and surface ideas. There’s no shortage of visual inspiration these days, but if you are at all like me, you get easily overwhelmed with it (hello, Pinterest). I find it more helpful to back up from actual kitchen photographs, and focus on materials. 

Here are some of the materials that I’m drawn to for a redesigned kitchen and dining room addition:

Material InspirationYears ago, M and I toured through this beautifully restored house in our neighborhood. I don’t remember the entire historic back story of the building, but a portion of the site had been a dairy at some point, and there was this amazing glazed brick or block used in the building. The renovation included a centrally located courtyard space surround by walls of glazed masonry, and I remember how much I loved that space. I’d love to use an interesting glazed tile on the walls of the kitchen, simple and clean. We could also potentially have exposed brick on the walls between the old house and the new, and I would paint those white as well. 

There was a house featured in Dwell Magazine several years back – an Arthur Witthoefft designed house. I tore it out of the magazine and saved it – not necessarily for the house, but for material inspiration. You might call the exterior of the house my kitchen inspiration.


One other springboard for materials in these new spaces comes from Melbourne-based architect Jessica Liew’s own home. Large expanses of glass, sunlight from above, wood and white – you can see where I’m going with this.

inspiration photo

Other materials for inspiration – the dark gray slate on the front mansard of the house (not for a slate material, but for the color) , white brick / white tile, cork floors (oh so easy on the feet and legs and dropped dishes) the color of our refinished old pine floors, butcher block, metals of appliances and plumbing fixtures, marble like our house’s fancier neighbors – not an overabundance, but a just right amount, like a simple marble fireplace surround or the threshold at a doorway of these old houses.

This is how those materials might translate into surfaces:

Surface Inspiration

Dark, slate gray deep drawers, shiny white walls – isn’t that upper right hand image fantastic (M’s not convinced, but I think it’s simple, blocky and gorgeous), usable, chop-able butcher block countertops, stainless steel restaurant style shelves, dark cork floors, and those Shaker pegs I mentioned here (foreshadowing). Marble in accents only. I want something timeless, and a kitchen that works (beautifully). Think Victorian, simple service kitchen, rendered modern.

Next up, I’ll show you sketches of the kitchen itself, and how these bits of materials and surfaces might translate into a working kitchen.