Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.
Zoom calls at the island. Homework at the banquette. A glass of wine at the bar. Chances are you’ve been using your kitchen for more than cooking, so why not design it to be a more multipurpose space?
While certain elements are still essential (those dishes won’t wash themselves), there are ways to make your kitchen feel more comfortable and less sterile. Here’s how to create a more purposeful and welcoming space.
Because people are spending more time at home and want to squeeze as much out of their space as possible, the most popular request we’re getting is to make the kitchen feel less like a kitchen and more like a room. Ideally, you want your kitchen to feel more cozy and less utilitarian. That means more warmth, more open sightlines, and more light.
Anything you can do to bring more natural light inside helps, so that means opening up walls, making window and door openings bigger, using retractable doors to the outside, and adding skylights where you can. People are spending so much time in their kitchens that they want to look outside at something nice—sight lines matter a lot.
Most kitchen ceilings are constructed with sheetrock, which looks very pragmatic and cold. Wood paneling on the ceiling is the best way to warm up a space. You can hide the sheetrock with wood siding that’s painted or stained, or add beams, or do both. You can also do a whole wall of wood cabinetry, wood trim around the windows, wood lower cabinets—think less white and more wood.
To give the kitchen a cozier feel, we’ve been incorporating elements that feel more special and less purely functional. Reclaimed flooring and tile are more unique and eco-friendly, and we’ll incorporate statement stone accents. Mixing metals with hardware feels more whimsical, and we do more decorative lighting. You’re required to have recessed lighting for code in many places, but we’ll layer in flush-mount ceiling fixtures and wall sconces to make it feel more inviting.
People have always wanted to hide them, but now that’s even more important—no one wants to see their dishwasher, fridge, or microwave. If you have the square footage, it’s ideal to put everything in a butler’s pantry, but if not, we’ll strategically hide everything behind cabinetry. The exception is the stove—a lot of our clients are going for a La Cornue or Lacanche range that feels more like a statement piece than an appliance.
We still incorporate it, especially if you have nice earthenware dishes that you want to show off, but we’re definitely getting fewer requests for it because it looks kitchen-y. We’re moving away from traditional cabinets and more toward floor-to-ceiling decorative cabinetry to hide dishes and appliances—the look is more like an entry door versus a cabinet door.
Café curtains or soft roman shades above the windows are key to help soften the space. More comfortable seating is another big thing—think upholstered stools and chairs versus solid wood or metal. We’ve been adding more power outlets, especially if people are working in the kitchen, and to that point, you want to make sure your workspace is far away from the sink— you don’t want your computer to get wet. We’ll also add in more drink stations, like beer drawers, wine refrigerators, taps, and serving bars, like what you’d have in a dining room. That’s what kitchens have become—like a dining room with hidden appliances.
Think of your kitchen as a cozy dining room with hidden appliances.