Our Editor Sets the Kitchen and Bath Benchmark

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By Amanda Dameron / Published by Dwell
“Interiors...remind us of what to do, where we’ve come from, and who we are.” —Edward Hollis, The Memory Palace

This quote resonated as we put together this issue, which is devoted to two very important rooms of the house—the kitchen and the bath. It’s within these spaces that we are our most ritualistic, connected to the actions and thoughts that define how we live. 

Our Editor Sets the Kitchen and Bath Benchmark - Photo 1 of 6 - Hailing from Denmark and India, a husband and wife cultivated a collective heritage at their renovated, almost-passive Brooklyn town house. Their home's white-oak palette continues in the kitchen, where full-height cabinets are made with handcrafted, slatted detailing that wraps up the ceiling, and back down around to an opposite wall of drawers. The island countertop is made of Glassos, a durable, crystal-glass material. It is partially topped with a white-oak slab, with a slight overhang that makes for an apt workspace. The pendants are by Caravaggio, and the dishwasher is by Bosch.

Hailing from Denmark and India, a husband and wife cultivated a collective heritage at their renovated, almost-passive Brooklyn town house. Their home's white-oak palette continues in the kitchen, where full-height cabinets are made with handcrafted, slatted detailing that wraps up the ceiling, and back down around to an opposite wall of drawers. The island countertop is made of Glassos, a durable, crystal-glass material. It is partially topped with a white-oak slab, with a slight overhang that makes for an apt workspace. The pendants are by Caravaggio, and the dishwasher is by Bosch.

Exploring the balance of aesthetics and utility is especially meaningful in the context of the domestic spaces that sustain us. These are rooms that must perform for us, and, in turn, allow us to perform the most basic functions of being alive. It is no wonder, then, that the kitchen and the bath are always at the top of the renovation punch list: They reign as objects of domestic fantasy. Preparing a meal or washing away the day in a clean, comforting, and safe space is a common dream in the modern world. 

Our Editor Sets the Kitchen and Bath Benchmark - Photo 2 of 6 - A German family's homelife takes shape around their modern kitchen. The residents selected a steel countertop to contrast the matte-black island and cabinets from Vipp. At mealtimes, the family gathers at a Bigfoot table from e15, which is surrounded by vintage Eames shell chairs.

A German family's homelife takes shape around their modern kitchen. The residents selected a steel countertop to contrast the matte-black island and cabinets from Vipp. At mealtimes, the family gathers at a Bigfoot table from e15, which is surrounded by vintage Eames shell chairs.

Good design implies longevity. Our homes need to offer flexibility and accommodation for a wide variety of users. Human bodies are not identical, though all need protection and comfort. Yet it’s perplexing why we do not demand a higher level of flexibility from our homes. Surely it’s advantageous to design a space with the years to come in mind, but so often we find that our homes can limit us when we need them most. Luckily there are myriad decisions, small and large, one can make in both the kitchen and the bath that are forward-thinking. We explore this notion with two infographics—one on the bathroom, the other on the kitchen—by canvassing design and building experts, we’ve assembled a visual checklist for universal design concepts. 

Our Editor Sets the Kitchen and Bath Benchmark - Photo 3 of 6 - When their house was in need of a pick-me-up, a London couple turned to the designer of their favorite coffee shop for an industrial-strength renovation.  A Lebanese cedar island and stainless-steel countertops provide ample work space—and a place to display treasured items, such as the Buono V60 drip kettle by Hario. The island features a Franke sink with a Vola faucet. The oven is by Siemens and white MDF cabinets stow tools.

When their house was in need of a pick-me-up, a London couple turned to the designer of their favorite coffee shop for an industrial-strength renovation. A Lebanese cedar island and stainless-steel countertops provide ample work space—and a place to display treasured items, such as the Buono V60 drip kettle by Hario. The island features a Franke sink with a Vola faucet. The oven is by Siemens and white MDF cabinets stow tools.

Sustainability is always top of mind, and striving for water efficiency in the kitchen and bath is paramount. When purchasing appliances, installing systems, and outfitting these spaces, consider that the market has made great advances in water-saving technologies. Industry executives and high-design aficionados concur: Conservation is our collective duty. If you agree, demonstrate through the choices you make. Judging from the latest products we see emerging, there have never been so many options for doing the right thing, and doing it beautifully. 

Our Editor Sets the Kitchen and Bath Benchmark - Photo 4 of 6 - Embracing the natural environs of their family home—a 1970 Deck House nestled among 175-foot-tall tulip poplar trees—residents Darren Selement and Cathryn Rich updated the kitchen with a rich material palette of wood and stone. Cherner barstools are paired with custom, cherry-stained alder cabinets by Holiday Kitchens, Barocca soapstone countertops, and flooring from Globus Cork.

Embracing the natural environs of their family home—a 1970 Deck House nestled among 175-foot-tall tulip poplar trees—residents Darren Selement and Cathryn Rich updated the kitchen with a rich material palette of wood and stone. Cherner barstools are paired with custom, cherry-stained alder cabinets by Holiday Kitchens, Barocca soapstone countertops, and flooring from Globus Cork.

It’s amazing what can be accomplished by capitalizing on the resources that are closest to us. We offer small glimpses throughout the issue, from the choice of integrating a Chilean lava stone for an unforgettable sunken tub to the decision to leverage community artisans to create a trio of whimsical bathrooms in Vancouver. We also visit a couple in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where they’ve updated a midcentury kitchen with the right amount of sensitivity and ambition. 

Our Editor Sets the Kitchen and Bath Benchmark - Photo 5 of 6 - A Vancouver architect collaborates with a team of artisans on a trio of bathrooms in his home. Husband-and-wife ceramic artists, Dear Human, baked x-shaped decals into store-bought Olympia Tile before arranging them in the kids’ bathroom. The tub is by Bette and the sink, set in a Corian countertop, is by Duravit.

A Vancouver architect collaborates with a team of artisans on a trio of bathrooms in his home. Husband-and-wife ceramic artists, Dear Human, baked x-shaped decals into store-bought Olympia Tile before arranging them in the kids’ bathroom. The tub is by Bette and the sink, set in a Corian countertop, is by Duravit.

In the feature well, we consider the entire home, with a focus on the kitchens and baths as the main catalysts of each story. To us, the poetry of these homes is evident only through a series of experiences—it’s never one moment, one material, or one room. By visiting a trio of residences in Hamburg, London, and Brooklyn, we note a wide variety of architectural challenges, budgetary restrictions, and residential needs. Each home is successful and enviable by its own merits, each realized through a long, creative journey (and not without a little anxiety). 

Our Editor Sets the Kitchen and Bath Benchmark - Photo 6 of 6 - Located in a forest in the Andean foothills, this house draws from the region’s geology to produce a unique bathing experience. The bathroom is poured-in-place concrete surfaced in laja stone, a local material chosen by the architect to evoke the region’s thermal baths. The space opens to a private garden via two doors—one in the shower, the other behind the toilet. The shower fittings are from Paini.

Located in a forest in the Andean foothills, this house draws from the region’s geology to produce a unique bathing experience. The bathroom is poured-in-place concrete surfaced in laja stone, a local material chosen by the architect to evoke the region’s thermal baths. The space opens to a private garden via two doors—one in the shower, the other behind the toilet. The shower fittings are from Paini.

This is the most exciting and satisfying thing about delivering stories of good design at home—the idea that modern homes are not cookie-cutter, should never be predictable, and need not hew to any preconceived rules. Modern homes, like human bodies, are not one-size-fits-all. Design is a language that communicates what makes us at once the same and individual. It’s good to be reminded every now and again. 

Amanda Dameron, Editor-in-Chief
amanda@dwell.com / @AmandaDameron