We have all likely noticed certain identifying characteristics of style or personality in one region or country as compared to another, whether we're talking people, homes, clothing, or, as we'll look at here, kitchens.
For example, the fact that I have lived in Connecticut over half my life does not seem to remove the sense of the Midwest that people pick up when they spend time with me. Or, another example: If I say a "Cape Cod cottage," I'll bet the images that first come into your mind do not involve much in the way of gold gilt or even chrome and glass, even if that cottage is upwards of 6,000 square feet and its budget unlimited.
If you were asked to design a kitchen for Martha Stewart's Westchester home versus one for the First Family's Texas ranch, it would be an understatement to say that the style would need to be handled very differently.
Recently, in the process of judging several national kitchen design competitions, it seemed to me that these regional differences in design were particularly striking, and I had an opportunity to discuss these observations with the other judges. What follows here is an amalgamation of my conversation, which included judges Penny Chin (California) and Ellen Cheever (Delaware), as well as Rita Vest, president of Vest Advertising, and Jan Aufderhar, brand manager for Decorá Cabinetry.
It's important to acknowledge some "truths" to make this discussion accurate. The projects we were judging were grouped into the eastern, the southern, the midwestern and the western regions of the U.S., certainly not all inclusive but enough to make some observations.
Trends are sort of like our country's politics, starting on the coasts and working their way gradually into the central parts of the country. There are many similarities in the "bones" of the project between the extremes of Manhattan and the California coast - with accessories such as lighting, patterns and fabrics being the difference. Just as for every rule there is an exception, these observations are generalizations and not absolutes. The warm intense colors of the South might easily be seen in the urban kitchen of New York or a loft in Chicago. The cozy cottage style of the Midwest might fit very nicely into a space in New England.
Still, in viewing many projects at one time, we saw consistency within each region - depite each being separated by region for judging. Perhaps these are the details that make the clients of that region most comfortable, and they seem to say something about the typical lifestyle and values of the region.