Pinch me. I just got off the phone with the always charming Nate Berkus, who has spent the last hour giving me advice on our kitchen remodel. While I don’t always play favorites when it comes to designers, I do play favorites when it comes to rooms, and Nate’s kitchens are some of the absolute best…
His recent ones have a similar theme – gorgeous herringbone floors (remember what I said in this post, about our floors!?), a statement making island, and beautiful architecture. So, having him weigh in on the decisions we’ve made for our own kitchen was kind of amazing, fairly intimidating, and totally made me rethink a few things. Of course, the reason I got to chat with him in the first place is because we’re using his LG Studio appliances that he designed for our own kitchen!
And there they are. And there he is with them. And I cannot wait for them to be in the house! So my first question for Nate was actually about the design of these pieces. Outside of very specialized, high end appliances with tons of fancy details, I feel like most stainless steel options out there look a lot alike. So I asked him how he approached this line when it came to beginning the design process.
Nate’s response? That when they first started to design, they began with creating a ‘guide for the dream American kitchen’. Asking themselves, “what is classic and forever, today’s version of modern, and architecturally important?” From there, the goal became to make pro-style, commercial looking appliances without a lot of unnecessary details – flair for the sake of flair. They wanted the style to be able to integrate into a modern kitchen as easily as it would a country kitchen by creating lines that felt universally accepted.
And what about my kitchen?
Well, I got the seal of approval for the layout we chose – and I quote:
“There are some real wins in the layout – the pantry and the open shelves – it expands the space of the kitchen in a nice way, and adds a tremendous amount of architecture to the space. I love the finishes you picked as they will stand the test of time. One of my rules for designing is ‘did it exist in the era it would built?’. It’s not a space to have a ton of personality as far as the building materials are concerned.”
I loved the practicality of that last statement – as designers I think we are always challenged to be innovative, but Nate makes an important point here. Building materials need to be practical. These are not items you are going to want to switch out in 5 years – or maybe even 20 if you can help it! They are the foundation on which we set our personality. Hardware, artwork, pottery, whatever – that’s where we will bring in some character.
And, what about the design elements we chose? (If you want, you can take a look back to our original post with the full plan here.) Well, he definitely had a few thoughts about that too…
If you look back at our kitchen selections you’ll see the paint colors, lighting options and more options that we’ve made decisions on since those first few posts. We sent those posts to Nate, and he let me know exactly what he thought about them. (Hyperventilates.) Basically, I asked him what he would do if this was his design project, and while most of the decisions he was totally on board with, he of course had his own take on the whole look.
For starters, he loved the color of that inspiration kitchen we posted – so do I. But unlike our decision to keep this neutral color to the island only, he said he’d do the whole kitchen in that beautiful putty. I would have loved to do this but – I’ll admit it – I was a bit hesitant to commit to that for the long term.
When I asked him about tile for the backsplash, he recommended stealing an idea he just did for a kitchen project and purchasing these faux reclaimed brick panels to place on the wall instead! I seriously love this idea because we do have a brick house, and some painted brick in the basement, so it wouldn’t feel completely out of place to do it! Plus that texture is always a win. I’m still debating on this one (more on tile choices in our next post!).
Lastly, when looking at the lighting options we had come up with, he suggested bringing some antique black lanterns (similar to these new ones) into the space over the island to add more character. I had actually thought about lanterns at one point but nixed them for the exposed bulb factor. What do you think about this option!?
If we did the brick with those, I think it brings in a bit more of an industrial vibe, which I love, but not sure that’s what we ultimately want either. I know I say this in every post, but making decisions is the hardest part of a remodel for precisely this reason. There are so many great options that ultimately there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer… it’s just finding your direction and sticking with it!
Speaking of decisions – I had to ask Nate about how he guided his own decision making with the appliances, and what his favorite details ended up being. Being a true designer, you have to think about form and function when it comes to these things, and he cited items like the oversized water dispenser that can fill a glass as easily as it can fill a vase. The way the handles feel in your hand when you pull up on them. As he put it, “LG is best in its class at engineering, I just took care of how it looks. I’m responsible for the feeling when you turn the knob. Not what happens when you turn the knob. ” And it’s a good thing he is, because the details on these pieces are incredibly sleek.
To hear more from Nate, as well as some his best advice when it comes to tackling your own kitchen design, sign up for our newsletter where you’ll get the full interview delivered right to your inbox later this week. A huge thanks to him and LG for being a part of our kitchen design!