A Recipe for Contemporary Design–Part 1

2019 kitchen and bath trends have been buzzing about the topic of Contemporary design, and we’ve taken some time to cover the basics of Contemporary in Design Speak: Modern vs. ContemporaryModern vs Contemporary Feature ImageBut this week, I want to share some ideas on how you can incorporate Contemporary design style into a home that is not necessarily architecturally designed to work with the typical Euro-inspired theme.


The best recipes have personal notes

With this growing desire for organization and decluttered spaces it only seems natural that clients are drawn towards this look. For some, the term is used loosely and for others, it comes with expectations of high-gloss sheens and minimal facades.

Women holding a pens writing a notebook. Recording concept

Though clients may be approaching the topic from different perspectives, they usually know what they like about the look, and hopefully, have a collection of photos to help you achieve their vision. To facilitate the conversation for the client asking for Contemporary, here are some questions you can take some personal notes on and reference as you begin the design:

  1. Naming one or two things, what is it about Contemporary design that draws you to it?
    Words like “clean, bright, uncluttered” are keys to listen for. This is also a good time to talk about cabinetry that tends to be used in contemporary designs, like lift doors and deep drawers. Show them a display or photos to explain. 6.18_Collage 1
  2. Do you have examples of Contemporary designs you like?
    This will be the most definitive way to steer the design in the right direction. A picture equals 1,000 words…you get the idea.
  3. What style of home do you have/are you building?
    Exterior photos or elevation plan drawings will define the home style and determine if you can go all-in contemporary, or if you need to be more creative with a hybrid design.
  4. How much natural daylight will you be working with?
    This is to make sure you are recommending finishes to keep the room as bright as possible. For example, if they love the trend of a dark gray or black painted kitchen, it should be used in a room filled with light. 6.18_Collage 2.jpg
  5. Ask what flooring and wall color will be used in the kitchen/adjacent rooms?
    If they aren’t sure yet, this might be an area where you can guide the direction.


Show and Tell

With the aforementioned in mind, break out the finish samples to hone in on what your client is looking for.

First, show them a white, off white, light gray and dark gray/black paint and ask which of these they prefer. Also, include a metal frame and glass sample from the Bellagio/Brava door collection to get an understanding of their familiarity with this material and subsequent desire.6.18_Collage 3Next, show 3-4 wood finishes that are trending; a light, medium and dark stain, asking which they prefer. 6.18_Collage 4

Based on the above, and being clear to state that this is not necessarily intended for inclusion but for defining their preferences, show your clients the following to gauge their “like and dislike” buckets:

  • Several distinctly different paint colors (not white or gray)
    6.18_Collage 5
  • One or two StoneyBrooke finishes6.18_Collage 6
  • One or two Appaloosa finishes

The conversation above is the baseline that will give you and your client a very good perspective on what the initial design may include. I would suggest staying away from door styles initially. Generally, if you are talking about Contemporary design, you will be using Bella or Avalon primarily, and possibly a wide shaker like Caraway or Mendocino, and hopefully a bit of glam with Brava, Bellagio or Catania!

Tune in next week to see the principles of Contemporary style in action with a redesign of one of our Medallion kitchens!

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