Kitchen Design Coach: 1960s Surfer Chic

If you had the chance to design a kitchen from scratch, how long would your wish list be? When this family of five hired interior designer Mona Ross Berman to help build their summer home, their list was surprisingly short: the kitchen needed to withstand plenty of entertaining and uphold the house’s chic take on the ‘60s surfer aesthetic. Essentially, “form had to meet function—the goal of every kitchen design,” Berman says.

As kitchens increasingly supplant living rooms, the task of designing a practical but pretty kitchen increasingly demands out-of-the-box thinking. “Sometimes you have to question the rules of kitchen design to get a space that suits your lifestyle,” Berman says.

kitchen design

For a classic but fun look, Berman incorporated both traditional elements like the marble countertops and modern elements like the turquoise tile backsplash (Photo: Bill Horin Photography).

Here are Berman’s 5 steps to undying kitchen style.

1. Begin with more white than you think you need. “Kitchens create clutter,” Berman says. “Give your kitchen the potential to feel crisp and clean by giving it an overwhelmingly white background.” Here, a white vaulted ceiling, white cabinetry and marble countertops keep the space open and the décor classic. In lieu of pendants that create more visual noise, plentiful recessed lights and large white-framed windows provide sufficient illumination.

2. Pick a historic and/or geographic reference point. Design doesn’t happen in a vacuum; if you ignore established aesthetics, you’ll end up with a trendy kitchen you’ll hate in five years. Since this New Jersey family dreamed of a nostalgic West Coast getaway, Berman used Southern California’s ‘60s surfer look as the décor’s launch pad.

hexagonal drawer

For a twist on contemporary trends, Berman chose hexagonal drawer pulls made of polished brass instead of ones with a “clichéd silver finish,” Berman notes (Photo: Bill Horin Photography).

3. Select a centerpiece that embodies your reference point. “The dining table was our mission statement when we began designing this house,” Berman recalls. “Our fabricator made this Parson-style table as an elegant update to the rough-hewn style that brings together all the colors throughout the home. It sets the tone for everything else.”

4. Include one or two permanent accents that personify your reference point. Eschewing the matte-finished ceramic tile one sees in most kitchens, Berman selected glass tile for the turquoise backsplash to add a “luminosity” to the space that recalls the ocean. Berman had the sun-yellow valance custom-made by a California textile company that specializes in hand-washed linen fabrics. To ensure the look lasts, make sure your accents are subtle; the backsplash and valance could both “work just as well in a Manhattan flat,” Berman points out.

5. Finish with a handful of functional accent pieces that enhance your reference point: Here, vintage-style salt-and-pepper shakers and enamelware add extra pops of color without becoming clutter.

For more kitchen design ideas from Mona Ross Berman, keep reading our posts.

by Elaine K. Phillips


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