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Thoughts from Susan Serra: Steamy Kitchen Renovation

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Challenge accepted.  We spoke to Susan Serra about her design inspiration and her approach to Jaden Hair’s Steamy Kitchen renovation.   See below, where she shares some of her design tips, including her process for selecting the perfect materials to execute her designs.

What should our readers know before they take on a kitchen renovation project?

First, of course, should be that they hire me! [laughs] But seriously, it’s important to work with a professional when attempting a large-scale renovation like I’ve done with Jaden. Working with a professional designer will help you streamline your thoughts and ultimately get what you want.

It can be easy to hang on to preconceived notions of what you assume you want in your next kitchen. It’s important to be open to new ideas, products, design concepts, and to find a professional kitchen designer whom you feel you can trust, respect, and whose work you find inspiring. Take your time during the design process.

What areas can be value driven — and where should you splurge? ​

Those decisions are going to depend entirely on your priorities for project. A countertop material that performs under many different types of pressure will provide value over many, many years and is a good place to splurge. Good quality cabinetry is also important. Choosing cabinetry that is made of performance materials and which have quality mechanical features such as good hinges, drawer glides and cabinet inserts will stand the test of time.

If I had to pick a good place to save I might rethink designing in ALL of the upper cabinets in the space and instead consider adding open shelves for interest here. Also, choosing less expensive, but still great quality hardware is a good place to save because you can change the hardware later to help refresh your look should you wish to.

What influences your process when choosing a color palate or design aesthetic for a kitchen? 

​It is important to consider the design story of the home, particularly the main floor where the kitchen and other public rooms are located. Follow the design story so that there is a flow according to complementary (or the same) wall colors and flooring, the foundation of all rooms.

Also make sure to consider brightness, darkness, contrast, hue, window exposure (north, south, east, west) and how those elements work with balance and proportion of the connecting spaces. Getting this right is where design professionals shine and where it is extremely easy to make a mistake.

What are some design mistakes to avoid when designing a kitchen remodel? ​

Avoid looking at each element separately. Every element selected builds on the next, including the decorative layer at the end, which should be considered at the start! My advice is to build from the items that will cost the most money such as the counters and flooring, working your way downward from there.

If you approach a project holistically and think it through from start to finish there’s a much better chance of loving the end result!

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