As an interior designer, the kitchen is one of my favorite rooms to design. There is a challenge I absolutely cherish in making a room that is mostly about function also look spectacular at the same time. Each new kitchen remodel project we start at JBi begins a whole new process of working with the puzzle pieces of flow, lighting, layout, function and aesthetics. It's like one big room-sized Rubic's Cube ~ you definitely know when the combination is just right. The kitchen is now firmly the center of today's family home. It's no longer a private room, as it was in the turn of the century, but is one of the most public rooms. Because of this, we tend to design kitchens as the showcase room of the house. Our clients are regularly asking us to design beautiful kitchens that set the stage for the rest of the home. For the next few weeks, I'll be focusing on kitchen fashions. We're not talking about suits or ties or a great pair of dress shoes, but about the design features that bring high style to a kitchen. We'll talk about appliances, surfaces and fabrics, all as important pieces to the design puzzle. And, of course, all from the JBi perspective - a clean, contemporary feel, even in a traditional space.

Over the years, appliances have taken on a different role in kitchen design. Appliances have been different colors and given different levels of importance in the overall design. Who can forgot the avocado green or harvest gold era in the appliance history? However, the past 10 years or so have seen some stabilization in the role of appliances in today's modern home. Homeowners are tending to want near professional quality appliances that take center stage in the room. Stylish vent hoods, ranges and refrigerators have become the norm, and not only for the "houses on the hill."

Range on center stage. For kitchens designed around the cooking zone, it is often the range that becomes the leading lady (or man, if you prefer) in the room. We have access to such an incredible range of styles, colors and sizes in today's appliance world that it really comes down to the overall aesthetic for the room. In the first kitchen below, a teal-colored range takes on the leading role of defining the kitchen in a vintage style. Beadboard cabinetry, ceilings and "old-fashioned" refrigerator complete the look. The second example shows a more elegant room with a large black Aga range as the showcase piece in the room. All the other design elements play a supporting role in creating an elegantly simple aesthetic.

Portland interior designers discuss use of decorative range in kitchen design

Aga stove incorporated into kitchen design, interior designers, Portland

Decorative range hood to top it all off. To bring true high style to the cooking zone, nothing equals the impact of a well-designed, decorative range hood. By incorporating additional decorative elements in the hood or hood cover, we create an art piece to set the stage for the entire space. The cooking zone goes from just a place to cook the evening meal to a real showcase for the kitchen. The two examples below show different ways in which to use a decorative hood to not only supplement the range style, but also to create a centerpiece for the kitchen.

decorative hood design, interior designers, Portland, Oregon

Decorative hood as part of kitchen design

Sometimes the detail is in not seeing "it." In certain spaces, and depending on the desired aesthetic, there is beauty in less. I have a phrase to describe concept, "sencilla y elegante" which means "simple and elegant" in Spanish. There is something to be said for the less is more principle when applied to kitchen design. It can be as straightforward as ensuring line of sight or line continuity in the cabinetry lines. Other times it might mean taking great pains to simplify the overall look by hiding appliances or mask them in more decorative ways. Building a refrigerator cabinet that looks like an antique armoire or hiding the vent hood inside a beautiful cover or completely hiding a refrigerator so it almost disappears takes skill. And, when done correctly, meets the "simple and elegant" requirement.

Refrigerator in built-in cabinet as part of overall kitchen design, Portland

Built-in refrigerator in contemporary kitchen design as discussed by Portland interior designers

interior designers in Portland, Oregon talk about custom range hood covers

Depending on your personal aesthetic, appliances can play an important role in the final look in your kitchen remodel. For a more traditional space, you might want to highlight the appliances more with decorative hood covers or a refrigerator armoire. In a contemporary space, hiding appliances behind cabinet panels that match the cabinetry creates a cleaner look. In either situation, your appliances can be an important design element. So, which of these would you want in your space?

About JASON BALL interiors. We are a team of interior designers based in Portland, Oregon serving residential clients throughout Oregon and Washington and beyond. To see examples of our design work, visit the Portfolio page. For an evaluation of your upcoming projects, contact Jason Ball at (503) 267-2352 or via e-mail at We look forward to being your interior design team.