Let's face it: kitchen remodels can come with pretty expensive price tags. But if you thought that was always the case, Cecilie Manz is here to prove otherwise. The Danish designer—who was recently named the Maison & Objet 2018 Designer of the Year—has recently teamed up with Reform, a firm that specializes in designer-customized IKEA kitchens, to create Degree by Cecilie Manz.
By employing a simple, elegant design aesthetic that pairs the functionality of a stainless steel countertop with sleek contemporary finishes, this new collaboration offers a charmingly minimalistic, design-forward update for any basic IKEA kitchen at a budget-friendly price.
Manz founded her Copenhagen studio in 1998 and has since become acclaimed for creating beautiful minimalist products for the home. While her creations favor a subdued palette, she infuses them with a stylish sense of Scandinavian simplicity.
Her work for Reform follows the same ethos. "A kitchen is a workplace and should be both functional and aesthetically pleasing at the same time," she states. "This is the place you use every day, around the clock, to play, eat, work etc. These actions should be the primary focus—so the design should never steal too much attention. Clean lines and order are perfect for that."
When choosing which materials to use for the collaboration, Manz went with a classic light pine. "I love the warm tone of the Oregon pine and its slim, straight grain. It was often used in the 1960s, so it’s actually an old-school choice for kitchens," she explains.
However, it is her subtle tweak of the material which gives the design its contemporary edge, adding depth to the seemingly simple look. "Here, I just turned the veneer 45 degrees. A small but very efficient detail. Like a hatching in a drawing. It’s still classic, but not retro."
Another version of the same kitchen is available in a shade of light gray—a tone which is no stranger to the designer's stripped back palette.
"The grey version also maintains a warm tone, giving contrast and a nice balance to the highly practical stainless steel table top," she adds.
Cecilie Manz's Top Kitchen Design Tips:
1. Invest in quality: "A kitchen is a long-term investment, so quality and a nice atmosphere are essential."
2. Good lighting: "The area needs to have good "work light" and feel cozy at the same time."
3. Maintain balance: "I like the balance we achieved in the Degree design. Stainless steel is very practical and the cabinet fronts add a sense of warmth—I couldn’t wish for more myself."
4. Use it or lose it: "If you don’t use your kitchen appliances, get rid of them. They take up too much space and sometimes a simple wooden spoon can do the trick."