Home Decorating Every Detail Counts: The Trained Eye Guide to Designing a Kitchen & Dining Room

Every Detail Counts: The Trained Eye Guide to Designing a Kitchen & Dining Room

A serial renovator who knows how to make any space more beautiful – and more livable – Annie Selke shares her tips and tricks for a successful space. As she embarks on a full-house renovation of her bougainvillea-covered home designed by Hollywood Regency architect John Elgin Woolfe in Palm Desert, California, we’ll go room by room to share her expert insights and product picks:

Design an easy-to-clean kitchen. Think smooth, unbroken surfaces you can tackle with the swipe of a sponge. This flat surface cooktop – an induction cooktop from GE’s Cafe line – cleans up like a dream. This, paired with scratch- and stain-resistant Caesarstone counters in Organic White, helps keep the kitchen easy to maintain—especially while entertaining!

When it comes to dishwashers, quiet matters. Appearances and efficiency are always top of mind when buying appliances, but acoustics are almost as important, especially in a smaller or one-story home (and especially being so close to the dining room!) Most dishwashers average 46 to 60 decibels. For maximum calm, Annie opted for this ultra-quiet model – GE’s Cafe Smart dishwasher – that clocks in at just 39 decibels.

Ovens have gotten smarter and chicer in recent years. Annie chose two ovens for her kitchen: a self-cleaning convection oven with fabulous French doors and an electric wall oven with Advantium technology that harnesses the power of light to help foods cook evenly and fast. Both come in a strikingly sophisticated matte white finish that coordinates with her fridge.

Bethany Nauert Photography

Keep it light and bright. In keeping with her sunny California locale, Annie leaned into a light-reflecting palette. She even opted for a white faucet designed by fashion designer Jason Wu.

Choose your sink early. It’s just as important as your appliances when planning the layout. Annie’s plus-sized Elkay White Quartz Undermount Kitchen Sink required a specialty cabinet—so it was an important early-stage decision to pin down.

Encourage healthy habits. Putting both sparkling and flat water in a glass door beverage fridge like the Cafe Smart Dual-Zone beverage refrigerator encourages you to hydrate more. Plus, that cold-from-the-fridge freshness makes water feel downright luxurious—especially in the desert!

Choose a counter-depth fridge to streamline your space. Shallow refrigerators like Annie’s Café Smart French-Door Refrigerator have many advantages, but chief among them is the sleek, built-in style they provide. And it’s not just looks: The French doors streamline the flow in the kitchen because they don’t take up as much space when the door is open.

Use lighting to make a style statement. A high-drama chandelier, like this articulating chandelier by designer Kelly Wearstler for Visual Comfort, can be a touchstone for your design. Size and placement matter, but a general rule of thumb for kitchens is that the bottom of the chandelier should hang 30 to 36 inches above the countertop. For an ideal dining ambiance, a statement chandelier paired with wall sconces and table lamps will balance the light throughout the space.

Bethany Nauert Photography

Design for conversation. A round table like the Abbot Round Metal Dining Table from Bernhardt is a wise choice, especially for a smaller space. A round shape comfortably seats a crowd, but also feels cozy for two. Circular tables also improve flow through the space because there are fewer corners to navigate around. And having double-duty furniture, like the closed-door Mackintosh Entertainment Credenza that not only stores dishes, serveware, and linens, but can work as a buffet table as well!

Pay attention to chair design. Comfortable dining chairs are a must, especially now that many of us are using our dining tables as makeshift offices. Annie recommends an upholstered seat like that on the Hayes Side Chair for maximum comfort. And most importantly, Annie always chooses chairs with backs, like these Bernhardt Bailey Leather Counter stools, for their supportive cushioning as much as their style.

Sweat the details. And don’t leave the lighting for last! Kitchen lighting is just as important as any other room, and it needs to be planned from the beginning if you want under-cabinet task lighting. Annie chose this invisible LED lighting – which makes prep work more pleasant and gives the kitchen a soft glow.

Treat your home to a glam backsplash. Because it is a relatively small, but highly-visible surface, the backsplash can be treated like the finishing accessory on a great outfit. Annie opted for a luminous Goldleaf Speckle tile she designed for The Tile Shop for extra oomph. The metallic elements look especially pretty at night during a dinner party!

Bethany Nauert Photography

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1 comment

Laura Passmore February 25, 2022 at 5:33 pm

Never had open kitchen and now working on one. The very quiet dishwasher is important. Good tip!


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