Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kitchen Sinks on Walls

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Earlier this month, I wrote a post on wall mounted faucets. What is on my mind this week are sinks that are on walls (which often have wall mounted faucets!). Most of my pictures from the wall mounted faucet post were from powder rooms; in a kitchen, it is far more common to place a sink under a window or on an island, both for the view and to achieve some open space over the faucet.

In my new kitchen, we are going to have two sinks: one on the kitchen island, which will have a nice view across the kitchen to a wall of windows, and will be used for prep and pot washing (because it will be across from the range, and convenient to the fridge). For a variety of reasons, we will also have a sink that is on a wall, and this sink will be used mainly for clean up; we have started calling it the ‘scullery sink’. It will be convenient to the kitchen table, for easy dish clearing and washing.

At our last architecture and design meeting, we talked about how to handle the cabinets that will be over the wall sink. These will be the only overhead cabinets in the kitchen, so they are important. Luckily, I had already started saving images for this post, so I was very prepared and could visualize the options!

This is one of my favorite pictures of a sink on a wall. I love the glass front cabinets and how the back of the cabinets are painted in a contrasting color. Note how the cabinet above the sink is raised to allow more ‘breathing room’ for the faucet. Image via House Beautiful.

I really like a stone cut-out above a sink if it is on a wall. Given the small closed space in this area, the place above the sink has somewhat limited use, with only room for a few shelves and display cabinets. Image via Cote de Texas.

Another sink on a wall, this time with a wall mounted faucet. There is some nice open shelving above the sink, and the back is painted in a contrasting color. I wish I could see the whole wall (see update below)! Via Cote de Texas.

Revised: Two wonderful readers emailed me links to the entire kitchen - and it is beautiful. This is actually quite similar to the layout that we are thinking about for our plan, but our kitchen will be wider - there will be two floor to ceiling hutch like cabinets on either side of the windows. One will house the microwave and other items, the other will be the dish cabinet.

I was really struck by this kitchen when I first saw it on Limestone & Boxwoods, in part because of the unique window over the sink on the wall. It is an interesting way to treat the space – to use an interior window. I am not sure how I feel about it, though. What do you think?

This great kitchen, by Bear-Hill Interiors, uses open shelving above the sink on the wall. To me, this works because it relieves the heaviness of a cabinet above the sink, and is also practical because there is not a solid mass to bump your head on (which could be a problem with a cabinet over the sink). Also, it appears as if the shelves are high – higher than the standard 18” above the counter which is typical for cabinets. I truly appreciate the style of this kitchen, but I am not a fan of open shelving for myself.

Another beautiful kitchen by Bear-Hill Interiors employs both open shelving as well as a bump up for the area above the sink. I actually really like the idea of cookbooks in this area.

I am not sure where I got this kitchen picture (maybe a real estate listing?), but it is interesting to see how the sink wall was handled. The shelf on the sink is not exactly on the same plane as the side cabinets, but close; it is not as deep, which removes the issue with bumping the head. I am not sure how I feel about display shelves, though.

This picture is very well known in the blog world, but did you ever notice that there is a sink on the wall? I remembered the plate rack on the wall, but did not notice that there was a sink there too until I went back and scrutinized the picture. Image via Cote de Texas.
Revised: I had to add this picture, from the new post from This Photographer's Life on a historic Neel Reid house. Photo credit: Blayne Beacham. Click here to see more pictures of the incredible house! I really like how this sink is handled on the wall of the kitchen. It doesn't feel crowded, perhaps because of the light colors and the expanse of space on the wall.

This is a secondary kitchen (in a former garage space) designed by Suzanne Kasler, as seen in Veranda. Suzanne loved open shelves in this kitchens, and said it worked well in this because it is not the main kitchen in the house.

This is from Martha Stewart’s old home in Connecticut. The cabinets go across the wall, but notice how high they are – certainly above the standard 18” above the counter. This may look good and work well for secondary cabinets, but I don’t think it would work well for cabinets that are used every day (especially for a short person like me).

One of my favorite sink pictures – how many times have a posted this on my blog? At least a dozen. I see new things every time I look at it, though. The cabinets go all the way over the sink, but wouldn’t this be annoying to use on a daily basis – it seems like a tall person or even a not so tall person would bump their head on the cabinets when trying to wash the dishes.

Los Angeles based architect Steve Giannetti is truly masterful at kitchen design. This is an example of a sink on a wall in a home he designed; he said that whenever he incorporates wall sinks, he usually bumps up the cabinetry above the sink.

In this kitchen the area above the sink is free and clear, which allows for a great view of the beautiful tile. But, it somehow it doesn’t look quite finished. I think it would look better if the shelf was lower, or if there were multiple shelves. My architect noted the importance of making some sort of connection between two banks of cabinets when they are separated.

This is an interesting use of the space above the sink – it is raised, and there is cabinetry and a small shelf.
Have you ever seen a sink on a wall in a kitchen? What solution do you like the best out of these pictures, or do you have a good picture to send to me? I love the idea of a sink on a wall in our kitchen plans, because it is a practical and convenient place to put a sink. However, it is not totally straightforward coming up with a good cabinet arrangement on this wall. These are going to be much used cabinets, which makes the configuration even more important. I would love your observations and insights!

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Twelve of the Most Beautiful Houses in Atlanta

I am honored to have been asked to write a guest post on Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles blog. Please come over and see the twelve houses that I have selected as an extension to AH&L's 20 Most Beautiful Homes list!

I have disabled comments on this post so you can comment on the AH&L blog - I would love your support, and please let me know which house is your favorite! This picture is a sneak peek...

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Glass front cabinets – form over function?

I know that many of my posts of late have been kitchen related, but we are getting to the detail design of the kitchen and it is very much on my mind. I am going to post on kitchen related items a few times this week, and hopefully I will get it out of my system!

After a month of working on permits and such, we finally had a project meeting to start working on the interiors of the house. The kitchen was one of the big agenda items, and we were all in agreement that the kitchen is going to be very much soft and retreating in style, no strong colors or bold statements. One of the topics of conversation was about a bank of cabinets that will be in my kitchen – really the only overhead cabinets in the kitchen (we will also have two floor to ceiling cabinets on either side of the range, which will provide a lot of the storage in the kitchen, as well as a walk in pantry that will also have storage).

These cabinets will be the first thing that is seen when walking into the kitchen, so we want them to look nice. We discussed which would work best from both an aesthetic perspective and a functionality perspective - glass front or solid front. Glass front is so pretty (aesthetics win here), but I am not the type of person who is going to line up the cups and glasses in neat rows (so maybe solid front is more functional).

I have never really thought much about glass front cabinets; I just know that I don’t like open shelving (not my style). When looking through my kitchen files after the meeting, I noticed that most of my favorite kitchens have glass front cabinets. I wonder if this is because my images tend to come from ‘designer’ kitchens from magazines, and the glass front look is a popular look among designers and architects.


This is a particularly striking example of the beauty of glass front cabinets. Note how tidy and organized the items in the cabinets appear; of course, no one would orchestrate a photo shoot and have disorganized cabinets, but I have to wonder how the items inside the cabinets look on a regular day. Note how the high shelves are solid front, which avoids the ‘what to put on the top shelf’ syndrome which can be problematic with glass front cabinets. Design by Nathan Egan Interiors.


One of my all time favorite kitchens is by Tracery Interiors. This view shows a lovely cabinet that is floor to ceiling, with only part of the cabinet glassed. This cabinet seems to be used as a pantry of sorts; on the opposite wall is a glass front refrigerator. (Here is a picture of the rest of the kitchen, from the Tracery Interiors Facebook page).


This beautiful kitchen was on a tour of homes last year. It was light and airy, with many pretty glass front cabinets. Kitchen design by Cynthia Ziegler; cabinets by Morgan Creek Cabinet Company.


Glass front cabinets are an undeniably a beautiful look; they add a certain transparency and lightness to a kitchen. The panes can be designed large or small according to the aesthetic of the kitchen. Image via Elle Decor October 2006.


This kitchen has achieved iconic status in the blog world, and is one of Suzanne Kasler’s most memorable projects. The glass paned cabinets really suit the airy and beachy feel of the kitchen.


One of my favorite classic kitchens, with architecture by Keith Summerour (this is his home) and interiors by Barbara Westbrook. I love the combination of the solid front and the glass front. Again, since the cabinets go to the ceiling, the top cabinets are solid. Cabinets by Morgan Creek Cabinet Company.


Another much loved kitchen in the blog world is by Steve and Brooke Giannetti. The glass front cabinets are placed in front of the windows to provide storage, but still allow maximum light.


I appreciate this picture because the inside of the cabinets are not perfectly neat and tidy – they are actually a bit haphazard. What do you think about this – does it detract from the look of the glass cabinets?


The splendid kitchen by kitchen designer Lindy Weaver has been part of my ‘virtual home’ for several years now. The soft and airy look of the kitchen really speaks to me, and I wasn’t surprised when I looked back through my files and saw that this kitchen features glass front cabinets – even the high level cabinets have glass fronts. I think the glass in the cabinets is part of what defines the look of the kitchen.

Kvanum Kitchens3[1]

Here is a kitchen that combines glass front cabinets with solid front cabinets. Via Willow Decor, from Kvänum Kok, a Swedish cabinet company.


This kitchen has some sort of mesh on the front of the cabinets, not glass, but the overall effect is similar.


This kitchen, via Traditional Home, has all glass front cabinets. The cabinets are full, but have a pleasant look because of the monochromatic nature of the contents.


These cabinets are in a kitchen by Michael Smith (image via House Beautiful). Note that the insides of the cabinets are not picture perfect – it looks like someone actually lives here! This house does not have very high ceilings, so the cabinets are not excessively tall.


Here is another example of a kitchen with glass front cabinets, in one of my favorite kitchens (architecture by William Hefner). It is interesting to observe that several of the shelves are empty – I never noticed that before!


This kitchen by Jim Howard is very clean lined and tailored. The glass front of the cabinets on the left are a good counterbalance to the two refrigerators (one not visible in the picture), which are both paneled. The dishes in the cabinets appear to be white, and note that there is nothing on the two upper shelves!


A great kitchen from a recent Traditional Home has a mixture of glass front and solid front cabinets. The plates and glasses are arranged neatly, but it also looks like the glasses are all clear which helps with the appearance. Design by Mark J. Williams.

Glass cabinets are undeniably beautiful. I love how they provide a bit of airiness in a kitchen. But are they a feature that is form over function? Do you have to be a really neat and organized person to have glass front cabinets in your kitchen? The cabinets in my kitchen will really be used (probably for cups and glasses) – they will not be for decorative display.

When I mentioned the idea to my sister-in-law, who just built a house, she said that her designer wanted glass front cabinets, but she put her foot down and refused. She did not want to worry about the cups and plates being lined up, and she likes to put things in the cabinets near the sinks – vitamins, toothpicks, etc – things that would be unsightly if they could be seen through the front of a cabinet.

I would love your honest thoughts, and your experiences with glass front cabinets!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Allée of trees

I went to college in Houston, and during my junior year lived off campus on a spectacular street called North Boulevard. I lived in the carriage house of a family with five children, and tutored the children in exchange for room and board. After living in dorms for two years, it was heaven to live in one of the most beautiful areas of the city, yet still be only a few blocks from my college.
The end of North Boulevard is incredibly picturesque, with large and gracious homes on sizeable lots. In front of these homes in a park-like median with a path in the middle, flanked on either side by live oaks. I used to walk along this path on the weekends, and even as a brash 20 year old, I appreciated the unique beauty of this setting.

Perhaps I had an affinity for the setting as it reminded me somewhat of my visits to London as a child, and one of my favorite places in London: Hyde Park. Many of the long paths in Hyde Park are evenly planted with trees that are hundreds of years old.

There is actually a term for this landscape design element – it is called an ‘allée’. An allée is an walkway or path lined with trees of the same species, and is a formal design concept where the view is extended to a emphasize something in the distance, or extended to the horizon. This picture, with landscape architecture by John Howard of Howard Design Studio, beautifully illustrates this concept; the pea gravel driveway lined with trees frames the view and leads the eye to the house at the end. This is one of my favorite pictures from John’s portfolio!

Another iconic picture that beautifully illustrates an allée was taken at Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana. The live oaks (believed to be 300 years old) provide a picturesque canopy that frames the quarter mile walk to the entrance of this magnificent Greek-revival style home.

This landscape element combines both the incredible natural beauty of trees, and symmetry, which always speaks to me. The entire intent of an allée is to emphasize the axial view, which also has great appeal to me. Doesn’t this view make you want to walk down the path and find out what is at the end?

Austrian artist Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) was clearly inspired by an allée of trees when he created this beautiful painting.

One of my favorite impressionist artists, Alfred Sisley, was also inspired by an allée of chestnut trees in this painting from 1878. Source.

This image, seen on Wikipedia, was taken in a park in Germany.

Many of the definitions of allée indicate that it is a very French concept. This image was taken at Chateau Margaux, France.

An allée of trees in the winter. I imagine that this view changes character every season, which is another thing I love about this design concept.

My post from last week, on a beautiful house in Atlanta, features a beautiful allée of oak trees. This is not the most common landscape feature in Atlanta, given that our topography is so hilly; a long straight path is really the best environment for this feature, in order to emphasize the sight lines. Photo credit: Brad Heppner.

As I was looking at the recent issue of Elle Decor (May 2010), I came across a charming article that showed some stunning garden paths throughout the world. One image from the Elle Decor article really caught me eye; it is quite sculptural and beautiful, and leads the eye straight to a pool. Unlike some of the other images in this post, this allée does not depend on trees that are hundreds of years old. I am not expert, but I see this type of cyprus tree planted quite frequently in places where height and quick growth are a requirement. Landscape design by Dominique Lafourcade.

A quick google search enabled me to put two and two together; Dominique Lafourcade is part of the design and architectural team behind Bruno and Alexandre Lafourcade Architecture, who have a unique specialty in the restoration of farmhouses, country manors, and castles in Europe. Visit their website for more beautiful examples of their work. This image was on their site; I think it is the same garden seen in the image above, with a view from the pool, through the allée of trees to the walkway and door of the house. The trees perfectly frame the view to the door from this vantage point; from the previous vantage point, the sphere perched on the edge of the pool is the distant feature (as well as the hills beyond).

Have you seen this landscape design feature where you live? Do you like its structure, or do you prefer for things to be looser and more natural in an outdoor setting? I definitely like the formality and visual beauty that an allée of trees gives to a space, and I particularly like it when a house is the visual reward at the end of the view.

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To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.

Beautiful framed intaglios, available here:

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Whimsical original crab and lobster paintings, as seen in House Beautiful, available here:


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