Expect advice: how to design a kitchen

Ryan Mahoney and Robert Highsmith of Workstead share tips on kitchen design

Handcrafted kitchen with island and open plan living area

Two of the co-founders of Brooklyn-based design agency Workstead discuss kitchen design

Be inventive with the layout
Thinking back to our first kitchen in Brooklyn, we had to be really creative about how we used the space. We built most of the kitchen cupboards under the stairs to maximise storage. More recently, we worked on an apartment on New York’s Upper West Side that was a pied à terre for clients who live primarily in the UK. Every space had to double up as something else, so we created a countertop that extends and transforms into a desk for a laptop and a coffee table that elevates to become the dining table.

Think of a kitchen as a series of distinct elements
Our design for the Workstead House in Charleston has a monumental round island, a 2.5-metre-long stove and a secondary butler’s pantry. By breaking it down into different parts, you can create more unusual, exciting possibilities.

Consider materials
We try to use materials that hold up and gain patina with age; we want a kitchen to be beautiful in five or ten years.

Don’t underestimate the details
Painting your existing cabinetry and adding a beautiful handle can make all the difference. For our 47 Plaza – a 1928 pre-war apartment – we used painted cabinetry with a continuous band around the edge that turned into the wooden pull to open the doors. There was a play between the colour and the solid wood.

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration May 2019

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