We’re currently in the middle of designing a modern, timeless kitchen for a single family residence and it’s an exciting time in the design phase to do a bit of window shopping.  Because kitchens are technology and appliance driven, kitchen design seems to evolve more in tune with necessity and function as opposed to fashion.  We like that.  As we see it, an important part of sustainable design is simply designing in such a way that it’s not going to be replaced in 5 years because it fell out of vogue.  So at any rate, we re-familiarized ourselves with some of our favorite kitchen websites and, two or three drinks in, we came up with a list of 10 emerging details in kitchen design.  Some of these details have been around for a while – it’s just that they’re becoming more prominent and refined.  Some of these details are more timeless, more sensible than others but each seems to be emerging in exciting ways with the designers we admire most.

Kitchen islands for sitting + storage that look good.  Typically a kitchen island does one or the other and looks good, rarely both.  Lately we’re seeing some hybrid designs that integrate the two functions in clever ways.  The Poggenpohl Plusmodo line below uses a symmetrical cantilevered island – the storage underneath makes a change of material to clearly differentiate its function.  Overall the addition of storage to this island creates a more dramatic appearance and adds to the function.


Plane change = material change. It just looks better when the two happen together.  The Snaidero Kube kitchen below uses a stainless wrap at the range extension and a glossy white laminate at the raised bar seating to differentiate from the planes of wood.


The Snaidero Sintesi kitchen below uses a wrapped granite work surface to enhance the plane change from the laminate cabinets.


Tool walls and movable storage racks. Henrybuilt has done a nice job with their movable storage racks which either mount to a “picture rail”, hang from steel brackets or can simply sit on the counter.



The Boffi Grand Chef kitchen below has a sleek, integrated stainless steel bar for hanging utensils.


The Bulthaup System b3 uses a series of recessed rails (similar to picture rails) to hang hooks and racks from.


Pockets of intentional display. It’s probably best that most of the dishes and coffee mugs stay hidden behind doors.  But those Iittala tumblers you just bought deserve some attention.  The Henrybuilt island below creates an intentional display area for just such items.

Wall splashes. Like a backsplash but taller.  In the Henrybuilt design below, the termination line of the stainless steel tucks under the cantilevered shelf.  The backsplash material has a greater prominence within the material palette and the break occurs where there is already a material change.


Integration of hardware. The Boffi K14 series incorporates mitered door and drawer faces for grasping.  The finished look is sleek and minimal.


The Bulthaup System b1 series uses a similar method.  As it turns out the ultimate minimal cabinet hardware is none at all.



The Henrybuilt unit below includes full length steel pulls that integrate so nicely into the cabinet composition that it wouldn’t look as good without them.


Register grills as textures. In the Bulthaup System b1, below, the heat registers are integrated into the  toe kicks – thereby concealing the grills and making for a nice modern texture at the toe-kick.


…and the same for the Boffi Case 5 system which goes the distances by keeping the material consistent between the cabinets and register toe-kicks.


Extended / framed cabinet boxes. Henrbuilt has developed a nice detail which brings the box of the cabinet out slightly proud of the hardware.  It creates a clean modern look and keeps the hardware from sticking out too far.


Bending the countertop. The Snaidero Venus system below uses a simple bend in the plane of a countertop/bar for some pleasing drama.  We’re not sure how we feel about the  practicality and build-ability of this detail – but we’re impressed with the overall visual.


The idea can get a bit out of hand like in the Snaidero Acropolis system below.  But face it, any of us modern design fans would love to saddle up for a drink at this bar.


Contrast between highly engineered glossy surfaces and earthy wood grains.  The Bulthaup System b1 uses the constrast between the end grain of maple “butcher-block” stock and the clean, glossy white cabinet faces.  It’s a clever idea as nature is doing so much of the design work.


The Poggenpohl Integration system creates a sharp look with the horizonatl wood veneer grain surrounding a bank of stainless steel.


The Snaidero Sistema Zeta below pairs warm wood grains with high gloss white veneer – the rough stone also plays well with the composition.


These 10 details are just a quick study of what we see emerging in cabinet design, we must have missed many, many more concepts, details and materials.  So don’t be shy with that comments button…