Latest style of kitchen is high-tech and hand-hewn


March 26, 1995|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Kitchen design in the past decade has simultaneously changed a great deal and remained essentially the same. The most popular looks, it seems, are either the "new classical" kitchen or the latest updating of the all-white, no-nonsense work space.

I don't think I need to elaborate on the function-first option, but what exactly is a "new classical" kitchen? Not being entirely sure myself, I went directly to a dependable source: Smallbone, the London-based kitchen cabinet manufacturer that has gained popularity at the higher end of the U.S. market.

Smallbone's interpretation of this look was designed by Keith Day. As the photo shows, its hallmark is a simplicity of line that could be classified as either traditional or contemporary. Another distinguishing characteristic is the eclectic use of classically inspired styles.

A recessed toe base for the cabinets, a familiar feature for many years, is avoided here by placing the straight cabinet line in a properly skirted base. The functional advantage of a recessed base is retained, however -- it's still possible to stand squarely in front of a cabinet without marring it with your shoe tip. The margin of safety is provided here by the projecting slate work surface. As can be seen in the photo, the supports for the overhang also provide space for a cutlery drawer.

The dramatically large-scale look of this particular new classical kitchen results not only from the generous proportions of the cabinets but also from the elaborate cornice detailing. The degree of detailing will depend partly on the height of a given ceiling.

The finishes on the wood cabinets make use of subdued color washes. Their gentle sheen and texture makes an intriguing combination alongside the various industrial materials, such as the stainless steel used for the work tops, exhaust hood and drawer pulls. In fact, I think it's the balance between high-tech and hand-hewn that accounts for the distinctive look of the new classical kitchen.

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