Trend Report: Cool Modern Kitchens

Less is more when it comes to contemporary kitchen design.

By Ilene Denton February 5, 2015

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The National Kitchen and Bath Association called it in its most recent style report: “frou-frou” in the kitchen is out-of-date. What homeowners today want are cleaner, more minimal, contemporary—and much easier to maintain—designs. Even kitchens with a more transitional feel will have less ornamentation. Check out these three Sarasota standouts, and see if you agree.

A cramped ’80s galley kitchen with worn white melamine cabinets and dated white appliances made way for a warm, contemporary open kitchen, shown on the previous page, part of a whole-house renovation of a Siesta Key vacation home by architect Barron Schimberg. It was designed as a second home for a family from the Midwest. Schimberg opened up the wall to the dining area to provide more user-friendly flexible space. He added the marble-topped island for additional seating and a prep station and a marble-and-glass subway tile backsplash. Clever monorail light fixtures with LED lights were stretched across the high-volume ceiling to augment three stainless-steel hanging pendant lights. “It was the cleanest, simplest way of lighting the kitchen properly without adding more pendants,” Schimberg says. The new cabinets are white, too, but they reflect the lovely periwinkle shade of blue that replaced the original “ugly yellow” walls. Schimberg says he’s getting a lot of comments about the color on his Houzz page.

The architect generously credits the client for the project’s success. “The owner has great style and taste, and she had a very clear concept of what she wanted,” he says. “We took that concept and found finishes that fit within her idea.”

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The very contemporary kitchen at left, part of the renovation of a 1990s-era apartment in Grand Bay on Longboat Key, was a collaboration between Tracy Scalzo of Eurotech Cabinetry and architect William Dobson. The original kitchen, “typical of that building, had white paneled cabinets under a squatty ceiling and a teeny-tiny island, and it was closed off from the rest of the apartment,” says Scalzo.

Demolishing the wall between the kitchen and living room, and removing the ceiling soffit in order to create an interesting stepped ceiling transformed the space. High-gloss lacquer pantry cabinets in a shade of taupe complement drawers made of olive-wood laminate with a strong horizontal grain. To keep the uncluttered look, minimalistic LED lights were installed in the kitchen ceiling and electrical outlets were tucked out-of-sight into the sink side of the island.

And speaking of that sink, it was originally on the wall where the cooktop now sits. In order to move it to the spacious new Caesarstone-topped island, contractor Gregg Kaplan of LBK Contractors and Design brought the plumbing up through the ceiling and installed an elaborate pump system in the island. Now the homeowners can work at the sink and interact with their guests at the same time. “I couldn’t believe they did it, but they did,” says Eurotech’s David Asher.

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Ryan Perrone of Nautilus Home blended casual and sophisticated elements in the handsome Dutch West Indies-inspired kitchen in Siesta Key’s Spice Bay, below. At 16 by 18 feet, the kitchen is not particularly big by today’s mega-home standards, but it lives large thanks to its 11-plus-foot ceiling and open concept floor plan. (What doesn’t show in this photograph is the informal breakfast area on the left that opens onto an outdoor covered terrace with fireplace, and the bar to the right of the staircase portal that opens up to the living room.)

The two-toned cabinets continue to be a popular trend, as are wood floors; these are made of walnut, hand-scraped to achieve a casual feel. “We’re on Siesta Key; you don’t want a perfect wood floor,” says Perrone. The builder maximized the smallish space with more high-end finishes—look closely and you’ll see that the staircase portal is made of raised-panel cabinetry, for example. “It makes it feel like you’re walking into something special,” says Perrone. And the natural stone backsplash has an unusual groutless weave to add more texture and dimension.

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