Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Kitchens

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Kitchens

By Duncan Nielsen
From backsplashes to built-ins, or the best knife sets to even better cooktops, these resources will help guide you on your culinary quest to a great kitchen.

A top chef in California cuisine, Daniel Patterson’s take sums up what a great kitchen should do: "Modern innovations are great, but so is cooking over a primal flame—both respect the integrity of the ingredients and bring people together, which is the whole point." So the question is, which elements of a kitchen matter to you? Be it an island’s waterfall edge, industrial-grade ranges, or subway-tiled backsplashes, find inspiration and guidance to make your kitchen do what you want. 

Inspiration for Your Kitchen Renovation

Below are an array of kitchens that are simply beautiful—take a look. 

10 Open Kitchen Solutions That Will Get Things Cooking

A double-height space encompasses the kitchen, dining and living area, and features 36-feet-wide glass doors that pocket into southern and northern walls.

The kitchen is completely open to the main living area and features a custom birch pegboard wall. Eames dining chairs accent the space.

SVK Interior Design paired rich elm accents with matte-white laminate cabinets, gray-veined Caesarstone countertops, and show-stopping white Heath tile with dark grout. 

Although it mimics the appearance of rickety mining shanties, the home is airtight. Triple-glazed windows and highly insulated walls contribute to its overall net-zero status.

"Designed to take advantage of expansive ocean, island, and mountain views, this contemporary remodel and addition recycled the original 1948 ranch house to create a new two-story home with an open plan layout," says Blackbird Architects. The outdoor hardscape and garden include a reflection koi pond and palm island at the entry, green roofs, an outdoor kitchen, a pizza oven, and a fire pit.

Two sinks with angular faucets make this white and wood kitchen island the main prep area in this California kitchen. A long kitchen table protrudes out from the island in a contrasting dark stone with polished nickel legs for a strong visual demarcation between the island and the table, although the two are physically connected.

The inaugural project of Bercy Chen Studio, this home in Austin, Texas has a cobalt blue galley-style kitchen that is free from visible knobs and hinges.

Eye-popping color is used sparingly in Nick Evans and Celia Sellschop’s house, but with great effect—not least in the brilliant green kitchen that sits at the home’s center. Celia is a chef in London and runs a supper club, so space for culinary experimentation was an essential part of Nick’s self-imposed brief. This is the first home he has designed for himself, and he’s glad he didn’t do it earlier in his career.


The Best and Top Kitchens on Dwell

These kitchens are some of Dwell’s favorites. From warm wood details to breakfast nooks, see how each live out their own character.  

10 Best Modern Kitchens

The once-hermitic kitchen now has a direct view of the patio and pool. The hood is by Zephyr, the cooktop is by Miele, the refrigerator is by Sub-Zero, the ovens are by GE Monogram, and the stand mixer is by KitchenAid.The Sebastian barstools and Trådig fruit bowl are also from Ikea.

Designed by Dratler Duthoit, this apartment greets visitors with an illuminated central living space.

"We removed all the walls and defined the kitchen in the open space with black finishes," says designer Anthony W Designs. Details's all-black kitchen features a 16-foot-long marble counter and cabinetry by Lignum Cabinets.

This remodeled and extended ranch house in Del Mar is a modern farmhouse-meets-beach shack. The 2,800-square-foot ranch house from the 1950s was renovated by San Francisco-based architect Nick Noyes, with interiors designed by Raili Clasen, founder of Newport Beach studio railiCAdesign. Sited on an oversized lot, the Southern California house has an intimately scaled exterior structure that follows a clean farmhouse aesthetic.

For this small west Toronto renovation, rather than imagine a home comprised of rooms within an open plan the architects conceived a room revolving around a singular mass.

Kitchen with the custom steel hood, Fireclay ceramic tile backsplash in a herringbone pattern, and Dekton counters

The Cabinet Face's DIY paint-grade flat panel doors and custom panels are installed in the island.

Clean modern finishes contrast with the dark wood floors, walls, and ceiling.


The Best in Cabinets, Backsplashes, and Counters

Zoom in on three types of surfaces that give a kitchen its vibe. 

9 Great Kitchen Cabinet Ideas

If you don't like handles sticking out from your cabinet doors, then one quirky and clever idea is to have a hole drilled near the top of the cabinet door, so you can stick you finger in it and pull the door open. These orange-painted MDF cabinets in a New Zealand beach house is an example of how this idea works brilliantly in cheery, low- kitchen.

Black-rimmed steel clerestory windows add illumination in this diminutive white kitchen where black accents abound. A black Aggregato Saliscendi Suspension light, designed by Enzo Mari and Giancarlo Fassina for Artemide, accents against the white Calacatta marble countertops and MAP's oak Milky Stools.

Painting this diamond-plate steel backsplash a charming pink color makes the material feel less cold and industrial.

The use of both black and white kitchen cabinets is a unique design choice for black and white kitchens, but it works well in this lovely kitchen, a study in dark and light. It incorporates a fantastic black-and-white marble backsplash, which brings together the kitchen’s many other elements, like dark hardwood floors and a white quartz countertop.

Set on a classic white subway tile? That's fine by Henderson. In order to pick a white shade that's best for your kitchen, take note of its tone and glaze.

This colorful terrazzo makes a bold statement against the all-white cabinetry.

Oiled jarrah eucalyptus contrasts with a kitchen niche of reddish-brown stained plywood in this kitchen alcove in a New Zealand cabin.

The acclaimed Italian designers Ludovica+Roberto Palomba carved a serene retreat out of a 17th-century oil mill in Salento, Italy, filling it with custom creations and their greatest hits. In their minimalist kitchen: sleek steel cabinet systems and the Kono range hood from Elmar. The multi-functional stainless steel island measures 20" deep and was designed by the couple for Elmar.

The concrete countertops, walls, and staircase echo the home's refined modern design aesthetic.

Renovating your kitchen? We used and abused seven eco-friendly countertops to investigate if they could stand the heat of Dwell's kitchen.

More heat-resistant than marble, granite is a durable, igneous rock that can give your kitchen a natural look that's similar to marble.


Tips, Guides, and How-Tos

Here, you’ll find advice and guidance for your upcoming project, or that project you’ve been gearing up for.  

An Introduction to Kitchen Design

The Bulthaup b2 brings the woodshop into the kitchen with utilitarian workspaces and pristine, orderly wooden cabinet systems.

The original stain of wood cabinets can fade, yellow, or discolor over time, and varnish can also change in color and texture. A good sanding and new stain, oil, or other treatment can give old wood cabinets a new life—but it takes some work!

The acclaimed Italian designers Ludovica+Roberto Palomba carved a serene retreat out of a 17th-century oil mill in Salento, Italy, filling it with custom creations and their greatest hits. In their minimalist kitchen: sleek steel cabinet systems and the Kono range hood from Elmar. The multi-functional stainless steel island measures 20" deep and was designed by the couple for Elmar.

One of the system's best new features are the interior drawers, which can now be as detailed as the most expensive high-end systems, providing a place for everything with drawers for pots, knives, table linens, and dinnerware.

While the open kitchen and living room space provide ample opportunity for entertaining, perhaps as compelling is the Kovels’ surprisingly private roof deck. "We love to have parties over here," says Kovel, "and sometimes we go up to the roof." With a privacy screen vexing voyeurs to the west, and no other tall building, save the church spire, nearby, the Kovels and guests have free rein. "We have a hot tub up there," Kovel wryly discloses.

Custom-made stainless steel bench top and integrated sink.

Some companies offer specialty self-leveling paints that are designed specifically for repainting kitchen cabinets.

The faucets, which are made of copper plumbing fittings, reference the history of the building and its industrial roots.

The simple details create a classic but modern look.

Architect Kevin Alter integrated wood from the original bungalow into the kitchen and covered the island in Carrara marble, with an interior clad in wood. A long table extends from the side of the island, and wine storage is integrated into one end of the island. New appliances include a Wolf range, a Broan hood, and a Miele oven and refrigerator. The Fucsia pendant lights are by Achille Castiglioni for Flos.

Overhead cabinets now can be easily swung open for ease of access. The kitchens are priced at IKEA’s usual retails. A 10 by 10 foot kitchen fitted with Sektion cabinets will range from around $1,300 to $2,200, excluding appliances.

This kitchen, from the 2015 Sunset Idea House, features a pattern of blue & turquoise tiles from the back wall all the way to the kitchen floor.

Using medium-grade sandpaper, sand down the front and edges of wooden, painted, or varnished doors or drawer fronts with power sander (2A) or sanding block (2B).

This blue kitchen won the KBDI NSW kitchen designer of the year award 2017, and NSW large kitchen of the year 2017.

As a top coat or end treatment, wax is unparalleled as a wood finish, but as a finish in the kitchen, it needs regular maintenance.

 If your kitchen units are still in good condition, then an easy way to give them a new look is to update the handles and knobs on drawers and cabinets.

LED lights are long-lasting and easy on the eyes. In addition to task lighting above work stations, install lights in storage spaces to spotlight hard-to-see areas.

The kitchen contains Onda barstools by Stua from Design Within Reach that surround a 13-foot Calacatta marble island. Custom white aluminum cabinets float above the kitchen appliances by Miele with a stovetop from Wolf and a range hood by Airmec Bello.

The element that makes the kitchen pop is the built-in spice row. "Typically every design I do is white so it's nice to have something that adds color," Chris says. He admits, however, that it's more for show than everyday use; "we've only used six of those spices," he says. As for what came first, the spice jars or the opening, the size of the gap was determined by the heights of the standard Ikea cabinets used. "From there it was a trial-and-error hunt for jars that would be as big as possible to fill the space but still be able to tilt out." Photo by Kate McElwee.

For a Toronto couple with a love of minimalist Japanese architecture, a sleek, storage-packed kitchen was the first priority in their home's renovation. In the kitchen, white oak used for the cabinets, kitchen island, and dining table is finished with double-boiled linseed oil, which can be reapplied by the homeowners as the wood mellows and patinas. The custom beveled edge for the island's "Blizzard" white Caesarstone countertop forgoes the standard one-inch countertop overhang to save on space and maintain a sleek feel. A Vola faucet is used with a sink by Mekal.

A bright kitchen is not only healthier for your eyes, it also makes preparing food safer and will probably put you in a cheerier mood. 

Open shelving is a kitchen trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

The Mandayam–Vohra family gathers under one of Workstead’s signature three-arm chandeliers, shown here in its horizontal configuration. Photo by: Matthew Williams


Products, Gadgets, and Tech in the Kitchen

Things to help you cook the food you love, in the best place in the house. 


10 Chef-Approved Knife Sets That Are a Cut Above the Rest

Put those worn-out, dull blades on the chopping block and let these cutting-edge knife sets make you the Gordon Ramsay or Ina Garten of your own culinary domain.

A smart Bluetooth speaker equipped with an AI assistant named Alexa, the Amazon Echo can play music, read top news stories, define terms, perform web queries, and more. 

In the kitchen, the existing cabinets were updated with a coat of paint and topped with new Caesarstone countertops. The refrigerator, dishwasher, and mixer are from KitchenAid and the cooktop is GE.

Reignite your joy of cooking by giving your space a much-needed refresh.

Thingk Designs: The GKILO Scale and CLOGK

These two devices from the new Thingk design collective—GKILO, a scale and clock with a subtle LED display that switches functions when flipped, and GLOGK, a wooden object that flips between clock and timer when touched—are a vision of what the kitchen may look like in the Internet of Things era. They're both available on indiegogo.

 Not only do built-in appliances keep kitchens tidy, but they also improve coherence between it and the rest of your home, creating a more fluid experience.

If you want to introduce pops of color to your appliances, you can also do so with removable vinyl. 

The Electric Slide-In Range. Photo courtesy of Samsung.

Simple solutions to problems that have perennially plagued cooks, these accessories will have you wondering why it took so long for someone to come up with the idea.

This white Miele model is designed to blend seamlessly into white kitchen cabinetry. The brand’s patented Knock2Open technology does away with handles, allowing for a completely flush façade that users tap twice to gain access. It comes equipped with an adjustable cutlery tray and interior LED lights, and it automatically recognizes how full the load is and adjusts energy and water use accordingly. It is also one of the quietest dishwashers available at 38 decibels.

Falcon’s iconic enamelware has been a staple brand for British home items since its opening nearly one hundred years ago. Enamelware is porcelain fused onto heavy-gauge steel, which makes it durable, smooth, and resistant to the effects of chemicals. This Prep Set from Falcon is a baker’s dream. The six-piece set includes a colander and five mixing bowls, perfect for separating flour, sugar, and other ingredients. The durable bowls are also an attractive option for popcorn and chips. When not in use, the bowls stack together for easy storage.

These sponges get the job done and look good doing it.

All Things Renovation Related

Thinking about a renovation? See how others have gone about making those tough decisions, and find what will work best for you. 


6 Simple Ways to Save on Your Kitchen Renovation

If your kitchen layout is already serving you well, focus on upgrading appliances, cabinetry, and finishings rather than rearranging everything.

Natural bamboo flooring was used throughout the home, as well as dimmable LED lighting. The house incorporates a hybrid heat pump water heater, which draws in ambient heat from the surrounding air, moves it across condenser coils, then transfers it into the tank to heat the water. This device creates the same amount of hot water as a traditional electric water heater, but reduces water-heating expenses up to 62%.

They also added a floating teak shelf from Semihandmade, which was a pretty close match to the Lauan wood paneling in the rest of the house.

Taking cues from their style-conscious clients, Portland-based Jessica Helgerson Interior Design transforms an Amagansett home into a light-filled, Scandinavian-inspired getaway. The kitchen expanded to a location where there had been a screened-in porch, increasing its interior footprint.

The best kitchen remodels simplify an owner’s life and make efficient use of every available square inch.

Pole Pass Retreat | Olson Kundig

Kitchen Trends

Some looks come and go, and some endure for generations. Who truly knows what’s here to stay? 

New Kitchen Materials You Should Know About

In addition to new appliance trends, homeowners and kitchen designers are also looking for design-savvy materials elsewhere in the kitchen. While marble remains a popular choice, concrete is being used more widely as a kitchen accent. This kitchen in El Salvador features a hefty concrete island.

The entire room is surfaced in white mosaics from Hisbalit; the bath fixtures are brass and sourced from a local Czech retailer.

One trend that Marc Hottenroth, Monogram's Lead of Industrial Design Operations, cites is the disintegration of traditional working zones in the kitchen. Now, the cooking zone, storage zone, beverage zone, and so on are interacting with each other.

Hill had the overhead lighting in the kitchen customized by Rich Brilliant Willing in a pert orange that accents the primarily black-and-white interior scheme. She added a stainless steel kitchen island by Bulthaup, its glossiness and "clean feel" tempered by the plastic stacking stools designed by Konstantin Grcic for Magis. The cabinets, appliances, countertops, and marble tile were kept as-is, with the addition of several coats of white paint in order to blend seamlessly with the walls.


Brands Doing Great Things in the Kitchen

Here are products and kitchen designs by brands doing innovative things. 

Viola Park Kitchens

Viola Park offers the opportunity to revamp your cooking space based on the particular design of your existing kitchen without a huge home overhaul.

Italian kitchen company Snaidero set out in 2002 to create an attractive kitchen system that would meet the needs of individuals in wheelchairs. The result: the Skyline kitchen.

Dubbed the Monoblock, GE’s forward-thinking micro-kitchen concept boasts cooking, refrigeration, and cleaning modules joined in a compact unit. The project is part of FirstBuild, a joint venture between GE and the crowdsourcing platform Local Motors. The new model for appliance invention seeks to engage engineers, designers, and scientists by developing products and bringing them to market.

Wolf Gourmet countertop oven with convection has an integrated temperature probe for predictable baking, roasting, and broiling results.

bulthaup's b2 system comes equipped with everything a kitchen needs—the workbench contains a sink, trash receptacles, and cooktops, while the two wooden cabinets house the appliances and the kitchenware.

The company’s executive chef is on-site to prepare fresh, inventive dishes and demonstrate the performance of Fisher & Paykel’s well-considered designs.

Danish architect Sigurd Larsen needed a new kitchen for his 969-square-foot apartment in the hip Kreuzberg district of Berlin—so he designed his own in collaboration with Reform. Larsen opted for a kitchen in anthracite—as the darker color added contrast to his oak floors and countertops.

Homeowners today look for brands they can trust, and high-quality products that will support their lifestyles for many years. Even the newest crop of consumers, Millennials, are building brand alliances early on that influence their purchasing decisions for years to come. KitchenAid appliances come with a red medallion, inspired by its iconic stand mixer, that represents the craftsmanship behind the brand and establishes that trust.

Bosch’s compact kitchen line, which includes an electric and gas cooktop, wall oven, and refrigerator, as well as an 18.

Offering a completely different look, this svelte version features an exhaust hood and modern hardware.

The Pivot-Storage System keeps your utensils where you need them, without taking up much-valued counter space.



Some Final Ideas About Kitchen Concepts

A few experts give us their thoughts about the big picture of kitchen design.


Daniel Patterson on Kitchens of the Future

The interior of an early 17th century kitchen. --- Image by Historical Picture Archive/CORBIS

"American kitchens tend to be a collage of unrelated bits—counter, lighting, cabinets, backsplash tiles—that only occasionally work together," says Scott Hudson of Henrybuilt. 

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