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Published: Thursday, 2/14/2008

Six Simple Steps to a Dream Contemporary Kitchen

(ARA) - So you think you want a contemporary kitchen. But what kind? Asian? Retro? Euro? While there are more modern looks available today, kitchen design experts say the basic principles behind "modern" design are really quite simple, if you follow these six simple rules:

1) Just say "no" to clutter.

"Modern design is about two things-- clean lines and good organization. The modern kitchen doesn't have lots of cabinet embellishments or items sitting out on the counter.

And when there is a design detail, it's really noticeable and important," says Andy Wells, director of product design for Decora' Cabinets, a line of semi-custom cabinetry made in Jasper, Ind., and sold through a network of 1,000 dealers nationwide.

2) Minimize detail, play up consistency.

For contemporary kitchen cabinets, designers recommend choosing one door style -- preferably a flat front -- and keeping the color, styling and materials consistent. Flooring should be large tiles in a consistent size, or hardwood with consistent sized boards.

"Appliances should all be from one manufacturer, preferably from the same sleek design line," says Ellen Cheever, a kitchen designer based in Wilmington, Del., and writer for "Kitchen and Bath Design News."

"Counters are one area where you can really make a modern statement. Instead of the bold patterns in granite, try a solid surface like quartz, in either an extra heavy or extra thin thickness, for a sleek, architectural look."

3) Make the details you have really count.

"Traditional rooms tend to focus on pattern. Modern rooms tend to focus on shape," says Mary Jo Peterson, kitchen designer, educator and columnist for "Kitchen and Bath Design News."

"For instance, try painting your walls a neutral, such as a beige with special suede textured paint, then accent the room with a bright red table. Or use a very sculptural looking, modern chandelier to add dimension and drama to the space."

4) Use only quality materials.

Because the lines are cleaner in a modern space, the construction and quality of each item stands out. "These days, consumers are willing to spend more on contemporary cabinets, because there is a focus on the quality of the wood," Wells says.

"A very plain door design can be striking when the wood finish is rich and luminous. In the future, I think we will see more consumers buying exotic woods like mahogany or teak, laminates in indigenous rosewood, or even aluminum doors.

In flooring, bamboo and other renewable woods may ride the 'green' movement to more popularity."

5) Go for a few big elements, instead of lots of small ones.

Traditional kitchens use lots of accessories and embellishments to add a sense of warmth. But in modern kitchens, it's those utilitarian necessities -- the large shapes in your kitchen -- that are meant to stand out.

"Try creating a space where you add depth not with items, but with texture, like using glass tile or river stones as a backsplash," Peterson says.

"Lighting plays a big part, too. Having lighting overhead, over task zones and under cabinets can make a modern space glow -- especially if many of these items are on dimmers, for extra drama."

6) Forget about fashion forward.

Having a contemporary kitchen is not about having the latest "up to the minute" kitchen fashions. "At Decora , we don't even use the word contemporary. When we describe these spaces, we call them clean and serene," Wells says.

"Today, people are taking the best of modern's organized look, and injecting their own style with adventurous fabrics and items from around the world, like Japanese storage solutions, or Italian Glass bowls, hung on the wall.

"We've shrunk the oceans, and I think consumers can look forward to seeing more and better contemporary kitchens as time goes by," he adds. Courtesy of ARAcontent



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