"I wanted this space to feel like a free space to host any type of event, from work meetings to dinner for 30," says celebrity decorator Kathryn M. Ireland of the studio behind her Santa Monica home. A tall order for any room, let alone one situated inside a back house—but this is Kathryn M. Ireland we're talking about. To start, she played off the architecture. Designed by Koning Eizenberg, "the high ceilings and proportions of the room give it the feeling of English Country meets California Contemporary," Ireland points out. So a set of rust-red AGA ranges (an icon of 18th-century British kitchen design) were installed underneath breezy open shelving. Fabric cabinet covers—a decidedly rustic touch—contrast with a slick stainless steel fridge and accents.
It's at once chock-full of character but very open, even airy, just the kind of room you can imagine comfortably seating dozens for a dinner party. (And, yes, it would be a pretty dreamy place to have a work meeting.) We just can't get enough, honestly. So here are the brilliant ideas we want to steal from Kathryn Ireland's kitchen.
Nix cabinet doors, add playful fabric covers instead.
An especially good idea if your kitchen—even your rental apartment kitchen—has cabinet doors that you really, really hate. Step 1: Unscrew them. Step 2: Hang simple fabric curtains in their place! Kathryn used a pattern called Safi Suzani Fiesta from her Mexico Meets Morocco collection, which adds color and character in a single swoop.
Use a pattern to guide your color scheme.
Those curtains? Get a closer look and you'll realize every color in the room is plucked from their scheme: rust reds, blue-grays, even oranges and browns that show up in various wood tones. If you're looking for a palette for your room (or your entire home!), find a fabric you love and let it lead the way.
Choose counters that match the floors.
If your natural kitchen style could be defined as "jam-packed" (cookbooks bunched up on the countertop, bowls stacked on plates stacked on platters across open shelving), you might consider a countertop material that roughly matches the floor to create a sort of blank slate. Kathryn sprung for concrete, a durable choice, but other options are a butcher-block counter paired with wood floors, or white marble counters with white tile floors. When those two large surfaces match, all your
clutter essential accents won't look so mis-matched.
Spring for a colorful appliance, then blend it in.
Or two colorful appliances if you're Kathryn M. Ireland, who picked a large and small range for her kitchen. Red might sound like a bold choice for a big appliance, but she went with a dark, moody hue that looks at home with raw woods and concrete (plus, it's reflected in the pattern on the curtains). A bold appliance doesn't have to scream; it'll look right at home if you surround it with like colors and textures.
Hang an inexpensive dish rack in line with a shelf.
Hanging dish racks aren't a new idea by any stretch, but they're often large and rigged to hover over the kitchen island like some bulky medieval chandelier. Instead, Kathryn selected a narrow, simple model (not unlike this IKEA version) and mounted it right above the range, in line with her open shelving. Blink and you'd miss it—which, when it comes to curbing clutter, is ideal.
Get a dining room table instead of an island.
A kitchen island is purely functional: You'd use it for prepping meals, and maybe eating breakfast if you've got a few bar stools pulled up. But in a smaller home or apartment, you might as well just go with a dining room table instead (this one is from the Kathryn M. Ireland Townhouse Collection available through The Perfect Room). You'll still be able to use it for prep-work—and while sitting down, which let's be honest, is a relief—but it would seat way more people for a meal. Bonus: Looks so cozy!
Embrace maximalism when it comes to open shelves.
You know what's really difficult? Constantly tidying the dishes on your open shelves. (Life is too short.) Kathryn took the maximalist route instead, leaning up art behind the stacks, allowing some to teeter high and others to stay low. "I keep all of my overflow plates, candlesticks, and glassware here," she says. "This is really my main kitchen in the house—I love cooking with the doors open and everyone gathered around."
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