Q. We're planning to renovate the smallest kitchen in the city -- new cabinets, flooring and lighting. Without knocking down walls, are there ways to make the kitchen look larger? I've never done this before, so we need all the help we can get!
A. Then I'd urge you to seek professional design expertise. Creating a successful kitchen is far more complicated than merely decorating any other room. This is where form truly follows function. Precision is paramount. Plus, you need to understand the latest options when it comes to choosing cabinets, appliances, surfacing materials and lighting.
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In short, get thee to a designer who specializes in kitchens and baths. One place to look: nkba.org. The National Kitchen & Bath Association, a trade organization for professional kitchen and bath designers, maintains a list of certified experts all across the U.S.
You can also find kitchen design specialists through local kitchen suppliers and regional design centers. For example, the small, sophisticated kitchen in the photo we show here was created by Joy Young, who has been designing and managing kitchen installations for some 10 years. However, this kitchen is her personal baby: It's in her own Townhouse Kitchens (townhousekitchensnyc.com) showroom in the New York Design Center.
Here's Joy explaining some of her professional designer tricks you can put to use in your own "smallest kitchen in the city."
"In a scant 200 square feet, I've created the illusion of a full-size kitchen, using the sleight-of-hand design tricks I've been perfecting on other projects in New York, which just may be the most space-deprived city in the world.
"By altering the proportions of the toe kicks, the backsplash and the height of the wall cabinets, and using base cabinets of solid walnut plank with the grain running horizontally, I've led the eye to the optical conclusion that there're many more than just 200 square feet here!"
No wonder it pays to hire a pro like Joy: She can stretch space by merely waving her magic design wand.
Q. The living/dining room of our apartment is long, narrow and dark -- 25 feet long, 14 feet wide, with a 12-foot ceiling. It's like living in a tunnel! How can we make it warmer and cozier?
A. You're dealing with bad feng shui, the ancient Chinese art that uses color, furniture arrangements and other decorative elements to keep good chi -- "life force" -- happily at home in your home.
Here's how: Paint that high ceiling a dark color that makes it look lower and closer, therefore cozier. Arrange your seating area -- sofa, chairs, tables, lamps -- at right angles to the side walls and anchor it on a colorful area rug. Dress your windows in something that will stop the eye at the end wall and turn the center of attention back to the center of the room.
Sounds like more decorating "magic?" Yes, but remember, feng shui magic comes with a 5,000-year-long track record of successes.
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