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Mixed styles make small kitchen cozy


Q: I like a cozy kitchen, and that's just as well since my own space is big enough for only the most basic necessities. Please give me some advice on how to create a casual, happy environment for cooking, as opposed to the sterile laboratory look that seems to be the norm for small, efficient kitchens.

A: Regardless of whether it actually looks like one, a kitchen does function much like a laboratory. So, in keeping with the scientific method, I suggest that you carefully plan the room's design, giving priority to functional considerations. Situate the stove, sink and refrigerator in the most practical places, and provide as much counter space as possible around each of these fixtures, particularly the sink.

After you've decided where these fundamentals belong, turn your attention to the issue of storage. You might consider hanging pots and pans from ceiling-suspended racks rather than stowing them in space-consuming cabinets. Onions, garlic and dried herbs can also be hung on the walls, while everyday serving pieces can conveniently be kept on open shelves.

As the photo shows, a casual approach to storage will make an efficiently appointed kitchen look less sterile. Keep in mind, too, that the fetish for orderliness is a relatively recent development in the annals of kitchen design.

Glass-door wooden cabinets in combinations of bright finishes and painted surfaces will do a lot to eliminate that kitchen-planner look. Glass doors will probably also appeal to kitchen impresarios who favor decorative displays but who don't want to deal with the dust and grease that open shelving invites. I should further point out that it's not essential for cabinets to match one another.

In this setting, some cabinets are done in warm wood stains while others have been painted cobalt blue. Even your counter tops can be done in a combination of materials, such as stainless steel around the range and marble tiles elsewhere. Additional color is introduced here though the hand-crafted Mexican tiles applied in a chevron design on both the back-splash and window wall. Such touches are in keeping with the overall Mexican theme of this relaxed and stylish kitchen, which was created for the recent National Kitchen and Bath Show.

And how about that red star in sert in the white vinyl floor by Armstrong? It certainly adds some pizazz, don't you think?

As this model demonstrates, a kitchen can be made cozy and friendly without resorting to the country look. In fact, a mix of styles often produces the most attractive result, with the whole design being based on the decorative display of everyday objects.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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