Gray kitchens come on strong

By Rose Bennet Gilbert
Posted3/15/2014 5:30 AM
  • Newly popular, gray is giving white a run for the money in the American kitchen.

    Newly popular, gray is giving white a run for the money in the American kitchen. Courtesy Townhouse Kitchens/Memories LLC

Q. I'm looking for ideas for a kitchen remodel we're planning for late spring.

There's a lot to learn, and I am curious about color schemes: I am seeing mostly all-white kitchens. Is this the trend? We'll be selling our home in another three years and don't want the kitchen to look dated.

A. Dated? Au contraire, as the French say. One of the pluses of a white kitchen is its timelessness. No wonder white is, was and may always be the most popular color choice, in this country, at least. According to the people who keep track of such things at the National Kitchen & Bath Association, some 75 percent of all new kitchens in 2012 were done up in shades of white or cream.

But here's a surprise: The color coming on strongest is gray. And, yes, in as many as 50 shades. From slate and charcoal dark to barely there, gray is sophisticated and cool -- right for clean, sleek contemporary kitchens.

Think again if you yearn for gingham and coziness. New York kitchen designer Joy Young ( manages to take the sharp edges off the all-gray contemporary kitchen we show here. By interplaying a variety of textures, from the checkerboard tile floor to that appealingly arched tongue-and-groove ceiling, she's made the gray almost gay -- and totally inviting.

Q. We were cleaning out my late great-aunt's house and found stacks of framed photos of European scenes. She was a good amateur photographer and avid traveler.

I'd like to honor her work but am overwhelmed at the thought of finding enough space to hang all her photos … there may be 25 or more. Is there a smart way to show them off a few at a time?

A. Yes. But don't even think of reaching for a hammer and nails. Instead, think about a gallery of rotating photos.

Choose a long wall space, say, just above a chair rail in the dining room, and install a narrow shelf, wall-to-wall. It should have a lip at the front edge so you can prop up a selection of photos, a half dozen at a time. No nails necessary. You then rotate the collection when you're ready for a change of scenery.

That said, I also applaud the solution French designer Jacques Garcia devised for a sleek sitting room designed to show off his latest furniture collection for Baker Furniture. Yes, his wall of art does involve a hammer and nails -- also, a measuring tape, and the patience to hang all those pictures just so.

It is the precision of the display that makes it so visually interesting. How, you may ask, can this be done? First, by measuring the wall space involved, marking it out on the floor below, then arranging the framed artwork to suit your eye. Now transfer your arrangement, piece by piece, to the wall itself, carefully maintaining the correct spacing.

Collectors' note: To achieve an architectural effect, all frames and picture mats should match. Not to the art, of course. There, as the French would say, Vive la difference!


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