Designer Patrice Bevans answers our kitchen style and storage questions! Be sure to check out her upcoming story in our August issue.
1. What are your favorite kitchen storage tricks?
Hiding items in plain site is one trick. I like creatively displaying items that are used on a daily basis so that they are easy to reach. For instance, keeping oils, vinegars, spices, and even wine for cooking on a pretty tray next to the stove makes cooking more efficient. If space allows and the tray is large enough, I nestle a container of highly used tools on the tray as well. If displayed properly and kept tidy, this looks handsome in a working kitchen. Or, for people who have a large collection of platters or baskets for serving, hanging these on walls or displaying in open shelving in a well-styled way gives a kitchen a greater sense of efficiency and a warm, inviting look. The space above a fridge is a great spot for this. Open it up and make a wonderful display space for baskets and serving pieces. It adds a lot of personality to a kitchen while providing much-needed storage space.
2. What are some easy ways to incorporate color?
A fun way to introduce some color and visual interest is to hang dinner-size plates in bright colors on the wall along the backsplash area between the countertops and the upper cabinets. This adds some fun texture on an otherwise overlooked area of the kitchen. Hang the plates close to one another and really create some visual rhythm. I prefer solid colored plates for maximum impact.
3. What are some easy kitchen updates that you’d recommend?
Try glass fronts on a few cupboards and create a display area for dishes or glassware. You can even remove the cabinet doors all together, finish the interiors by patching the holes from the hinges and shelf brackets, then paint a complementary color to the rest of the kitchen. This creates an open storage niche or an open place for cookbooks.
If you have a sink that does not have the advantage of being placed under a window, you can place a mirror above the sink where the window would be. The mirror should be generously sized spanning from close to countertop to underneath the upper cabinets (if you have some there). The mirror will brighten up the space and add a little animation to a usually hard-to-decorate space. The same trick works over a stove in place of a traditional backsplash; just be prepared to clean it often! I have found some good mirrors for this sort of application from Ballard Designs.
4. When would a cozy banquette work in a kitchen?
There are two spaces in a kitchen where I like to place built-in banquettes. A banquette built into a corner can add two or three extra places to sit when space is tight whereas trying to squeeze a few extra chairs around a table in a small space makes the corner crowded and hard to navigate. A chair can only be pushed so far into a corner and only allows one place to sit, but a banquette built into a corner provides seating for at least two and sometimes three people depending on who you are seating (adults vs. children). I love building in a bench or a long hall such as a “through-way” to a back door.
5. There are many choices of tile (and cabinet hardware!) How do you recommend zeroing in on the best options?
Both tile and hardware lean one of two ways: They are either traditional or modern. Decide which direction you are taking your kitchen and you already cut the choices down by more than half. I prefer the kitchen be a reflection of the house and its architecture, so if the rest of your house is more on the traditional side, lean toward traditional tiles and hardware. You don’t want to shove a modern kitchen into a traditional space. I think it creates a disconnect with the flow of the house.
6. What’s worth the splurge in a kitchen?
I think good quality countertops are worth the money you spend on them. They can last through many renovations and kitchen updates if you choose wisely.
I also think good lighting is worth the investment. Task lighting includes the recessed cans in the ceiling; add lights to the underside of your upper cabinets to better illuminate the counter top and work spaces.
7. Where can you save money?
I don’t think that you have to invest in custom drawer and cabinet accessories to maximize your storage space. No question, there are instances where the more expensive cabinet systems are exactly the right choice. However, I find that you can “over-customize” to a point where you decrease the kitchen’s flexibility and ability to make updates easy. So I like to save money by using ready-made liners in drawers and shelves where it makes sense. I’ve used a great modular storage system made of bamboo to organize drawers. The utensil drawers expand and contract, so they can be sized to work in your drawers; they can stack in deeper drawers; they have small cubes and oblong boxes to store a myriad of different cooking tools. I love this system from Container Store. It is economical, but works brilliantly and looks chic.