TIPS FOR DESIGNING A KITCHEN WITH MARILYN LAVERGNE
Interior Designer Marilyn LaVergne’s work amplifies the aspirations and cultural interests of her clients. And her projects seriously inspire us. We spoke with Marilyn, Principal of Marilyn LaVergne Interiors, who shared her tips for designing a kitchen.
Credit: Julian LaVergne
BEFORE YOU SHARE TIPS FOR DESIGNING A KITCHEN, WHAT INITIALLY DREW YOU TO INTERIOR DESIGN?
I became interested in designing interiors during my first career in public relations, where I often covered the home furnishings industry. So, I enrolled in the Interior Design program at Parsons and took my studies seriously. I love the practice of reimagining space to elevate the quality of my client’s lived experiences at home and work.
HOW WOULD YOU STYLE A SMALL KITCHEN IN CONTRAST TO A LARGE ONE?
Whether small or large, I believe all kitchens must deliver on four main things: ease of use, ample storage, durability and yes, style.
Work Smart: First, I consider who will be using the kitchen and how. Convenient work space on both sides of appliances is ideal for food preparation. So, if you’re making a modest breakfast for 2 or a huge holiday feast, you must have at least 12-18 inches of workable space. For large kitchens, work spaces should not exceed 4 feet apart. Example, the sink should not be further than 4 feet from the range.
Storage Matters: Next, I urge clients to invest in quality cabinetry made of solid plywood or finely engineered synthetics. Base or floor cabinets should have a combination of deep shelving and full extension drawers with soft close dampers. Add rollout trays for easy access. Wall cabinets should offer sturdy shelves and doors with soft close hinges. I also advise incorporating the tallest possible wall cabinets to maximize storage. Also, taller cabinets look more custom. This is especially true in a small kitchen. Diversify storage by using open shelves or tall pantries. For a modest size kitchen, hang kitchen tools and cookpots vertically on a wall-mounted peg board.
Think Indestructible: The kitchen is the hardest working space in your home, so insist on durability with every decision. This means stone flooring – ceramic, porcelain or Luxury Vinyl Tile. Go for granite, quartz or concrete for countertops. These surfaces endure heavy traffic, so be sure they’re made of sturdy materials.
Integrate Technology with Appliances: New appliances and technology add beauty to every kitchen, regardless of size. Oven ranges now come with Google-powered control panels that make cooking remarkably convenient. Inside new refrigerators, large or small, you can digitally program the temperature of up to six separate areas to maintain freshness of produce, meats, cheese, beverages and frozen foods. It’s easier to keep the kitchen clean with a dishwasher on duty. In a large kitchen I recommend getting two dishwashers – especially if you entertain often. For smaller kitchens, I suggest a compact dishwasher. It’s just 18” wide and equally as durable as standard models.
“Whether small or large, I believe all kitchens must deliver on four main things: ease of use, ample storage, durability and yes, style.”
Credit: Rayon Richards for Photography
TELL YOUR STYLE STORY
Regarding style, treat the kitchen as you would other spaces in your home. Maintain the architectural integrity of the home. For example, select raised panel cabinets and historical colors for a traditional home, or consider slab panel cabinets and a cool neutral palette in a modern home. Then, determine the message you want the kitchen to reveal about your personality. Incorporate your favorite color with back splash tile, wallpaper, window treatments and wall paint. Celebrate your interests with antiques, art or cultural artifacts.
I recently created an artful pottery display in the dining area of my client’s kitchen that featured her daughter’s handmade pottery. Her daughter, now grown and raising her own family, made dozens of plates, vases and vessels in high school art class. Her creations languished for years in the basement until we embarked on this recent kitchen renovation. One afternoon, with the kitchen under construction, we unpacked these forgotten treasures, and selected pieces that complemented the new kitchen’s blue and white palette. Positioned on floating white shelves around the banquette, these beautiful pieces now bring a museum-like feeling to the dining area. The installation makes for interesting conversation and inspires stories of her daughter’s journey as a young artist.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TIP FOR STYLING THE KITCHEN TABLE?
Expand your table top décor outside of traditional linens and placemats. And step away from plain white dishes. I’ve used painter’s drop cloths, wrinkled muslin or burlap as a base. Then, I’ll layer with handmade decorative paper, mud cloth from Mali or Indigo fabric from West Africa.
Include handmade ceramic serving bowls, platters or vases for dining décor that expresses your personality and inspires conversation. Fabrics and ceramics bring rich color, bold graphic design and intriguing texture to the dining experience for you and your guests! I love all of the Ceramics collections from Zimbabwe and the Ethiopian cotton napkins.
Credit: Rayon Richards for Photography
Marilyn LaVergne is an Interior Designer and Principal of Marilyn LaVergne Interiors. Recent projects include a chic home work space for an emerging educator, a renovation and staging project for a residential investor and a sophisticated kitchen renovation for a college professor planning to entertain as we emerge from recent social isolation. Marilyn also partnered with a collective of designers in the Kaleidoscope Project Showhouse – a venture that showcased the talent of BIPOC designers from across the U.S. Read more home decor styling ideas here.