While studying the elements of style will help you to shape and define the overall ambiance of a kitchen, it's the design details that can truly make or break the project. Design details can add interest and personalize the project, yet they can also provide design solutions broad enough to be repeated in various plans.
Creating multiple-height cabinet elevations is a great way to add interest to a project. Special-height base and tall cabinetry can offer both functional and aesthetic benefits.
There are three clear advantages to such cabinetry in contemporary kitchen planning.
1. For the traditionalists, the look is accepted by clients who are engaged in a free-spirited search for "one-of-a-kind" designs, which often result in elegantly assembled unfitted furniture pieces in a total room setting. For Contemporary-inclined clients interested in a "disassembled" look, stepped cabinetry can often be a cornerstone of eclectic styling. The real challenge is to maintain the functionality of long runs of connected cabinetry while breaking up the monotony of such a space.
2. The extra functionality offered by special height base and tall cabinets makes good sense. The clear view and accessibility of cooking utensils on a lowered range top has long been recognized by designers. To eliminate bending or stooping, raised dishwashers are a favored specification by many. As our appliance menu increases in kitchens, reachable, viewable, special-purpose-height cabinets efficiently house microwave/ convection ovens, warming drawers and built-in coffeemakers. I predict flat screen technology will soon introduce yet another appliance the entertainment appliance into our kitchens. So, special-height cabinetry to house flat screen televisions may become a new specialty cabinetry application.
3. The valuable contribution special-height cabinets can make in visually defining large expanses of "Great Room" kitchens is important as we struggle to humanize the scale of such spaces. We all have faced the "airport runway" problem of a long, uninterrupted, oversized island in a kitchen. Varying the height of the cabinets is an innovative way to better define the space.
While the value of special-height cabinets seems clear, many designers haven't been able to find any carefully thought-out academic direction on how to determine the sizing of these cabinets. Nor is much written about how to technically manage the intersection of different depths, heights and finishes of cabinet cases and surfacing materials. This month, we'll look at some practical guidelines based on research into human scale, experience founded in experimentation and the study of work created by design leaders.
Following is a step-by-step procedure to assist you in creatively thinking through the appropriateness of such special-height cabinets, how to present such a solution to a client, and how to detail the space.
Step No. 1: Complete the "zoning" space management of the room. Knowing all the activities that will take place in the space and the square footage of each function that must be provided is of paramount importance. Equally important, you need to think through the sight line of visitors as well as workers in the space. Lastly, track the natural light entering the room and then create the artificial light plan.
Step No. 2: Divide the possible special-height cabinet components into cabinetry categories. This will let you move beyond typical base/wall/tall cabinet sizes, yet give your creative mind a "checklist" of options to consider. This approach makes it easier to add new sizes to your "mental" cabinet line category.
Here are the categories I use: