I thought I’d show you some of my favorite kitchens and explain why they are my favorites. They are not in order of preference as they each have something important to my taste, which is: They’re all “honest” and uncomplicated; no gee-gaws or ridiculous super-sized mouldings, no demonstrations of the homeowners wealth. Surely, some of them cost a small fortune but these shown aren’t pretentious at all. These kitchens each possess something special or unique and simultaneously each is a beautiful hybrid of timelessness, function and style.

First, I need to share with you a wonderful quote from the biography of one of the world’s first interior designers, Van Day Truex. His influence in design has literally touched something in everyone one of your lives…I promise you!

Truex visited Bunny Williams in Connecticut at her new - unfinished weekend home:

Casually, over coffee one morning Van Truex asked Bunny what color she intended to paint her kitchen, Bunny replied “I’m thinking red,” Truex blurted out imperiously “UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE, a kitchen should be one color and one color only; white!”

Having issued his dictum, he went on to say that he was disgusted by over designed kitchens and outrageously priced appliances that were seldom, if ever used.

This was in 1979, he was 75, she 35. Since then, Bunny has always had white kitchens….as she reports; “the master had spoken!”


(Designer: Sue Burgess)

My darling friend Sue epitomizes the type of designer who has no “fat” in her work; it’s always as lean as possible. If it’s needed she’ll consider including it, if it’s superfluous - it’s gone! Sue’s own kitchen above is perfect for creating meals for two to fifty; it has lots of light, storage and the décor softly hums - the simplicity IS the design.

Note: The “barley-twist” French oak center-table is an art piece and utilitarian!

(Source Unknown)

When you enter the kitchen of this New York townhouse you’re at once comfortable - “you get it” right away. It’s a large, cozy room. Immediately you know there are no surprises or tricks to further impress you. The antique-looking honed-marble floors balance the slick modern cabinets and the pure white walls. The entire look is softened by antique furnishings and the "happy" yellow upholstery.

Note: The children’s silhouettes on the wall instead of the ubiquitous “modern-pop-art” piece. I LOVE that; it’s now their kitchen, not anyone else’s!

(Designer: Amy Bergman)

This is obviously the kitchen of a large home….which are always the hardest to design!! Reasons are: 1) There are too many options; 2) A larger than usual budget; 3) Too much space to make interesting without creating a “converted barn” look.

Here, Ms. Bergman did an amazing job with all that in mind. I think the dark cabinets with the off-white island base helps minimize the expansive look of too much cabinetry. Tiles were used for the backsplash material, and then two alternating stone tops (white marble on the charcoal cabinets and black velvet-finish granite on white painted island) which helps eliminate huge expanses of one material.

Note: The curtains in a colorful cotton print with simple trim along the edges, this adds just enough color without getting too jazzed up, and it makes the room softer which is important when you have a huge room.

(Designer: Jackye Lanham)

This kitchen screams “Kawwfee Tawwk” I know this awesome old-world kitchen looks like it's original …but it aint… none of it! Ms. Lanham created “an envelope” that feels like the original would have with all the modern conveniences and accessories.

The floor, subway-tile, cabinetry and countertops are all simple and clean-lined, and “historically sympathetic” to one another. This keeps the wonderful views to the garden from being usurped by the interior decoration. The antique walnut table and chairs along with the matching lampshades over the table and on the table-lamps on the counters, all add the warmth necessary.

Note: Several kitchens in this missive have full-size lamps here and there in the kitchen!

(Designer: Meredith Baer)

Another big-ass kitchen that’s designed perfectly! Work, dining and lounging are all within the same area, yet out of each other’s way. The ceiling beams add architectural order to an asymmetrical space. Using only two colors of materials also helps keep the environment simpler and timeless.

Notice, there aren’t any over-embellished carved brackets, schmaltzy chandeliers, no $20K range hood, or elaborate floor patterns. It may be grand but it’s beautifully honest and simple. I believe a homes occupant’s should never be upstaged by their décor; flowers, plants and the residents will give this room its spark and interest.

Footnote: In the beginning of my design career an older, worldly-wise, amazingly philanthropic friend, Betty Schoenbaum and her husband Alex (creators of the legendary 'Shoney’s Big Boy' restaurant chain) were building a new home in Florida. When I inquired what style would it be, her answer inspired me - and my career…

“Our home will not be as society says, 'Simply Elegant, our home will be elegantly simple.”

You go girl…

(Designer: Summerour & Assoc)

This is one of my absolute favorites as its sooo simple, so chic, and not huge!

The wooden floors and matching cabinet faces simultaneously look urban and rural. The palate is simple and easily accessorized. The storage is behind hidden doors - keeping it very simple. The countertop material rolls over the edge to the floor creating one clean line.

Note: All the horizontal and vertical lines meet and coordinate. No odd angles or weird bits sticking out anywhere.

(Source: Traditional Home)

This cheerful kitchen is best described as the “new, New French Country” kitchen. No painted Faience backsplash tiles; no ceramic roosters crowing, no pretentious copper poaching pans and fish moulds hanging above the range, etc. It’s totally eclectic as there is a little bit of everything in it!

The black metal base cabinets and range hood with the simplistic wooden island in blue-gray all look so smart with the blackened iron and stainless steel accents. There are no “decorations” as everything is utilitarian…dude, I love that!

Note: The full length patterned curtains…sooo unexpected….this room look cozier, less utilitarian… tres Francais.

(Designer: Sherrill Canet)

Sherrill, herself a chic and lean no-frills designer created this kick-ass kitchen and it’s absolutely one of my all time faves! Everything is simple; no special finishes, no faux this-or-that; pure color and architecture make this kitchen awesome.

The periwinkle-blue cabinets are edgy yet comforting and homey. The unusual detail of the walnut trim on the island is genius as it makes the island more interesting and brings the flooring into the overall scheme. I also love quartz tops, they always look great. The limited use of stainless steel is creative as it adds give a bit of sheen without looking too commercial.

Note: The lack of accessories and “decorations”… why gild the lily???

(Source: Unknown)

A masculine, clean-lined, easy-to-maneuver-about-in kitchen with lots of light and many work areas… WTF’s better than that?

The dark-stained base cabinets coordinated with the window blinds add warmth and simplicity; if the blinds were white the room would appear “colder.” Polished Calacatta marble countertops are complimented with the soft gray wall color and the deeper gray ceiling.

Note: Gray is one of the hot new colors we’ll see over the next few years.

(Designer: Thomas Hamel)

Those upper cabinets with the white glass doors make my shorts tight! I LOVE THEM!

Mr. Hamel has used soft dove-gray base-cabinets with the white upper-cabinets and grey-veined Calacatta tops and splashes. The skylights and plentiful windows make this a very cool and stylish kitchen. This kitchen could be in an 18th century home or a new, modern townhouse in Chicago.

Note: The trends within most of these kitchens shown - wooden floors, free-standing islands - have a definite “less-is-more” approach. If the skylights were lined up with the windows it would've been architecturally perfect.

(Resource: Courtney Cox’s Malibu home)

Another of my very favorite kitchens! This super clean looking kitchen is so simple and yet it’s just sooo sophisticated. The slate floors make the room feel warm and grounded; they balance the shiny white modern cabinetry perfectly. The recycled factory stools add patina, and interest.

I say it often….you just can’t beat a white kitchen.

(Source: Modern Home Design, France)

I love, love, love this kitchen!! It has everything I like: cement floors, natural wood, natural stone; modern and antique elements but most of all it has “soul.” You can just tell the people who live here are way cool, right?! This is perfect for Malibu or Ibiza.

Notice: The stone walls dictated the color for the cement floors, creating one palate of color and a feeling of continuing natural materials.

(Designers: Jose Solis Bettencourt & Paul Sherrill)

Jose' and Paul are absolutely two of my very favorite designers working today. Here, they’ve have created a simple, happy, almost “modern-ish/rural-ish” feeling kitchen by using several disparate elements that go together beautifully without looking forced. The symmetry and lack of upper cabinets creates a less utilitarian feeling, adding a punch with the occasional insertion of stainless steel.

Notice: the few but well-scaled accessories; anything smaller would look trinkity.

(Designer: Christine Fink)

This is about as straight forward and honest as it gets! The sink, range and fridge are all in the desired work “triangle.” The white cabinets are gonna be good forever and they’re pumped up with the blue glass subway backsplash tiles. The chrome factory lights add design interest and ambience.

Note: This is all the kitchen anyone needs; anything more than this is purely for show. The biggest houses in Palm Beach that have dinners for 250 have quite small kitchens as “real chefs” know what works best.

(Designer: Amanda Keyser)

What I love most about the kitchen of this cabin in the woods is how the owners didn’t attempt to create a cutesy “rustic” kitchen. It has a definite rural feel which is accomplished with the black trim, black factory lights, oxblood red wall and the raw-wood floorboards, but the stainless steel and frosted glass cabinetry give the perfect edge to keep it fresh and modern.

Notice: No curtains with the black trim…love that!

(Source: Aerin Lauders Hampton’s residence)

This kitchen kept the integrity of the old house by using all old-fashioned style cabinetry and fixtures. The simplicity of this room is perfection... Again, it’s very “honest.” Everything in the room is painted white, including the old farm table. The pale, sky-blue walls make the room feel softer, more feminine.

Note: I’m fairly sure Aerin Lauder doesn’t know a deep-fryer from the deep-freeze as she’s a busy woman surrounded by lots of staff…but, this is a nice, cozy space for her to have her gluten-free-flaxseed bagel and a half-caf-soy-latte-with-one-light-squirt-agave before her early tennis lessons in the summer...

(Designer: Christie Hanson)

What attracts me to this kitchen is that it’s not a huge-ass room dedicated to Sub-zero’s and acres of marble. The work area behind the dining table is subtle, everything is kept below the counter, the fridge is out of sight and yet there’s plenty of work area.

Note: This kitchen could easily be more contemporary by changing only the dining chairs – drop in some Italian leather chairs or Bertoia wire chairs you have an entirely different look.

(Designer: Jennifer Worst)

Again, we have this very successful formula of wooden floors, white cabinets, subtle stone tops and splashes, all providing a wonderful crispness which implies cleanliness which I love in a kitchen. My most favorite thing in this kitchen is the glass door frames stained to match the island base cabinet – it’s original and gives the cabinets some design interest.

Note: Vinyl textiles today are awesome; some look like leather, some are textured and tons of solid colors in amazing colors. They are the perfect covering for barstools, regardless of how careful you are. You also want “tight seats” those stupid-ass cushions that tie onto the back legs are a pain in the ass when lifting your derrière up and over… trust me.

(Designer: Patrick Printy)

What kind of kitchen do you put in a colonial-era house which looks reasonably interesting and appropriate? This interpretation is one of the most successful ones I’ve seen.

There’s no “phony” business going on; no “hutches,” no kettles resting by the fire, etc. - it’s all quite simple. The panel-style doors and drawers, the wooden countertops, the wall of cabinets instead of upper cabinets, wooden floors, are all part of the “colonial” vernacular without being twee or fake…

Note: There were no indoor kitchens in the colonial era… so for today's Prada wearing 'colonial cooks' you'll have to improvise, but don't try to imitate, simply "suggest" the era.

(Source: Coastal Living)

This straightforward seaside home is used for entertaining and cooking casually for crowds of people. The island is also the dining table; the walls have open shelves with the dishes exposed so guests can easily find things. I love the wall-hung sconces above the workspace, a simple and beachy look.

Notice: The “window” above the sink is actually a mirror to reflect the view and make that end of the kitchen brighter.

(Architects: Ferguson and Shamamian)

This is one of the best architectural firms I know of! They innately “get” the American vernacular for designing homes that seem timeless – homes that everyone wants to live in. The putty-colored cabinets are so chic against the plain white walls. The light blue stone countertops are a pleasant surprise.

Note: This room is absolutely timeless. Imagine it 35 years ago, and it would’ve been prefect! That’s the way to determine something’s staying power, imagine it 35 years behind, then ahead.

(Source: Traditional Home)

As previously discussed I am a “white kitchen” guy; I rarely use color in my own kitchens and when I done it, I’ve regretted it. Odd that this black kitchen totally turns me on…I think I want it! What’s so awesome about this room is the attention to the small details – that’s what makes it perfect: the bordered floor, the white pin-striping on the cabinets, the thickness of the counter tops, and the use of only two colors. There are NO fancy architectural tricks, no cabinetry masterpieces…just honest, clean lines.

Note: Low 8' ceilings….left plain, unadorned and you don’t notice!

(Designer: Stephen Gambrel)

At first glance this looks like a 30’s traditional kitchen but after studying it a moment you’ll see it’s actually modern with a retro angle. The cabinets, lighting and accessories are retro whilst the wall-tile and floors are decidedly from an older, traditional period. This room has everything you need; several work stations, room to walk around easily and yet its cozy and feels like a real kitchen!

Note: The skylights absolutely make this room!

(Source: Habitually Chic)

For a small apartment kitchen I think this rocks! In small kitchens you have to be majorly anal and practice my rule: “a place for everything and everything in its place.” The glass doors actually provide the illusion of a wider space as the cabinet faces don’t have a solid front closing in the room even more.

Note: The same principles would apply to a modern small kitchen.

(Designers: Badgely-Mischka)

In their Connecticut home, Mark and Jim kept the traditional spirit by using all early 20th century elements for their odd-shaped kitchen. The design accents are dictated by the gorgeous white LaCornue range with the brass accents. The cabinetry is kept very simple, and again we see alternating top colors from the island to the base cabinets.

Notice: The old radiators… that’s also one of the keys to keeping this rooms charm and antique value. Their heat is soooo wonderful too.

You can do it, I'm here to help!