Oh the Choices!

Guest blogger Jennifer Parker guides you through kitchen renovation selections; from cabinets to the precise shape of hardware this is an intelligent overview of what you may encounter when working with a designer/remodeler.

I like using analogies to describe the design process; so if we’re talking about making renovation/design selections consider this analogy. It’s like constructing a perfectly balanced mobile, one component at a time. Your architecture, fixtures, furniture, fabrics, flooring, wall color, and accessories—they’re all connected. Think creatively but also think holistically.

Say you’ve decided to move forward with the renovation of your kitchen. You’ve engaged an architect and designer, worked with them to nail down a plan and articulate a style direction. Now it’s time for selections to begin.

For the cabinetry, you fall for a beautiful wood-stained maple in a mid tone with a simple rectangular recessed panel and single-bead detail inside the flat frame.

Gorgeous; now to select the countertop; you decide on a natural material, granite, and that you’d like to pull out some of the browns to reinforce the “nature reference” suggested by the wood grain of the cabinet; how about this one:
Are you seeing the relationships; the connections? The organic movement in the wood grain and in the stone; hues from nature—it’s a marriage made in heaven.

As you move forward the architect and designer are looking to guide the selections to ensure there are connections or relationships between each element that will be a part of your completed space. We’re very conscious about the obvious and subtle network of similarities or foils that each and every selection brings to the design “total”; the mobile in perfect balance.

Now you need to choose a profile style for the edge of the countertop; as a general rule consider the level of formality you’re going for as well as the profile of the cabinet door as your inspiration. Your cabinet door has a flat frame with a single-bead detail inside the frame so the edge profile of the countertop should follow suit—pick something simple, not over-worked, and of course, comfortable to lean up against.

There are a plethora of edge styles but you manage to narrow them down to three; the first is a double eased edge. This is the most contemporary choice and looks good with the flat frame around the recessed panel of the cabinet.

The second is a half bullnose which kind of mimics the curve of the bead detail inside the flat frame of your cabinet door.

The third is an ogee edge which looks a little more traditional compared to the others.

Take a look at some of the other types of edges available for countertops. Check out this website for great bite-size blurbs about other kinds of countertop materials and edge styles: ; or go to this website to look at countertop materials with different edge styles actually simulated on the site.

Just like the countertop edge style, kitchen hardware should have some kind of aesthetic relationship with the forms around it.

For the hardware finish; an oil-rubbed bronze to pull out the soft gray and black-brown flecks in the stone looks great.

Handle style? You can go linear and geometric to accentuate the clean lines of the cabinet door frame, balancing the organic with modern. The double eased edge for the countertop relates nicely to this.

Or let’s say you want to reinforce the “nature reference” by choosing a textured handle that plays off of the wood grain of the cabinetry. The half bullnose for the countertop edge looks great with this one; the curves repeat. I call this look “earthy modern.”

Or do you want a more transitional look like this? The raised detail about 1/3 in from each end is called a “bead” and this echoes the wood bead detail running along the inside edge of the frame around the cabinet door.

The ogee edge on the countertop complements the graceful profile of this handle but if you look closely you can find relationships to the other countertop edge profiles as well.

All three picks are aesthetically pleasing and appropriate for your cabinets. All are simple in form, clean-lined and ergonomic choices; one a little more modern, one a little more rustic, and one a little more transitional. If you still can’t decide; take a look at your flatware, your tableware. Look for style clues or motifs in other things you love that will go into the same space.
If you find yourself overwhelmed in the selection process and are asking “How do I choose? What’s the basis?” Well, this is it: appropriateness, aesthetic relationships between your selections, harmony and balance in the design.

Fast forward another thousand-or-so selections (by now you’re a pro) and you’re done!

Remember the design process is a continuum of choices. No selection is isolated, and every change made to your design plan may require a re-examination of subsequent design choices.
And think, just like the best gatherings—where guests have enough in common, and yet enough variety to keep the conversations interesting and memorable—your home should have its own ongoing dialogue between each element carefully selected in the design process.

Jennifer Parker holds a degree in interior design, is an Allied Member of the American Society of Interior Designers, and a member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Her background includes an A.A.S. with a major in fine arts and professional experience as a graphic designer with the National Geographic Society. Patera Home was established in the year 2000 and is located in Reston, Virginia.