The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

Follow my personal profile here on Google+ for LOTS of fresh content! Google+




Subscribe by Email


houzz interior design ideas

Follow on Bloglovin

Interior Design Blogs
Kitchen Design


Our webshop of handmade Scandinavian rugs and ceramics


Scandinavian inspired, warmly modern kitchens


Custom kitchen design by Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS


Entries in accessories (4)


Modern Kitchen Backsplash Accessories

Written By Kelly:

With the floorplan for my kitchen renovation decided upon in terms of work flow and lifestyle considerations, it was time to take a close look at an important functional aspect of the entire design - countertop prep space.

My old kitchen countertop with all the charming kitchen objects in place, allowing, maybe 9-10" of prep space front to back!

While, to me, my kitchen is a decent size having come from shoebox apartment kitchens in Manhattan, at 190 square feet, it is still small for suburbia. It was very important to both me and my mom/Susan/kitchen designer (all in one) to design in efficient countertop prep space; otherwise, really, what's the point? We immediately thought of Kessebohmer - a German brand we were familiar with that offers clever storage solutions as beautiful to look at as they are to use.

Since our main goal was freeing up counter space, I surveyed my counters in their current (read: cluttered) state and took stock of which elements would be most beneficial to our lifestyle and space and which could be moved off the counter. The Kessebohmer Linero collection became a quick answer to countertop clutter.

Linero is a classic modern rail system that is at once practical and extremely versatile. In fact, its beauty lies in its versatility. The simplistic design consists of a variable length horizontal rail that can be customized with any number of smart attachments.

As Kessebohmer's collection is so intuitive, we arrived upon more accessories than I had space along my backsplash where the main rail would be positioned. How to choose? We elected to get each accessory that I thought I would use under different lifestyle situations, and change them out as needed.

This concept has since evolved into many different, and FUN, iterations, and has given us a tremendous amount of flexibility - which is THE keyword for my kitchen. Here are the elements we chose, and how they've been incorporated into our multi-functional kitchen:

Spice Rack - This accessory houses my most-used spices, kept conveniently at arms length for when I need them, literally, in a pinch! Positioned at the far end of the rail, it is situated a safe distance from the heat of the cooktop so as to not spoil the spices.

Multi-Purpose Shelf - Simply one, clean, stainless shelf. I use this to hold a few frequently used oils, or a decorative plate and ceramic bowl.

Wine Rack - Holds up to 3 wine bottles. We don't keep this up all the time, but trot it out when we're entertaining and want to take the kitchen from "cook's kitchen" to "Napa dining room" as it lends a very chic, festive feel to the unit.

Cookbook/iPad holder - Utilizing a second simple shelf on the rail for another use, I love this accessory purely for its functionality as previously noted. Having previously cracked my iPad screen with a falling spice jar (true story), this piece keeps your cookbook or ipad out of harm's reach. And, it's an excellent conversation piece as well - guests love it!

Kelly's using the ipad just before a dinner party

Single Utensil Jar - Raise your hand if your counters are currently housing the ubiquitous, cumbersome jar of utensils? Not mine! Previously the bane of my existence, my utensil jar is now conveniently suspended along my backsplash in close proximity to my cooktop for a quick grab of a wooden spoon or pasta ladle. More space to spread out the pizza dough on the countertop.

Knife block - It was, perhaps, most satisfying to rid our counters of the clunky, ill-shaped knife block that came with our knife set. This sleek element keeps knives safely shielded in a natural wood sheath, and behind a pane of glass. What I love most about this is the ability to quickly grab your exact intended knife, instead of playing a guessing game with knife handles.

Utensil Hooks - This is a beautifully simplistic row of 6 hooks intended for hanging utensils. Of course, I ran out and purchased a crisp, matching set of Chrome utensils with holes in the handles, but the collection has evolved into an eclectic hodge-podge of trinkets (such as my beloved Danish bottle opener) and novelty utensils from Anthropologie. And I quite like it that way.

Three-Cup Utensil Holder - This is another accessory that we don't keep out every day, but when we're expecting guests, I'll fill it with fresh flowers, or other decorative objects.

Paper-Towel Holder - My husband has an unearthly affinity for paper towels. This storage solution is much more favorable than an on-counter dispenser. We positioned it as the solo attachment on a short rail alongside the sink for quick, easy access.

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned from renovating my kitchen speaks to the benefits of having an open mind. Many elements that were designed and decided upon were based more on trusting my designer and a "sure, let's do it" attitude than an actual previously recorded need or desire. For example, I didn't truly know to what extent the Linero rail system would solve multiple cooking and lifestyle issues in the kitchen until it was installed, and as soon as I hung up those attachments, I knew there was no going back. The convenience and efficiency is remarkable, and the flexibility adds an exciting element of evolution and versatility to our kitchen.


Stay tuned for a later post where we show you a few different "outfits" for our Linero system. Linero does holidays, it does dinner parties, and most importantly, it puts the "fun" in function!


Thank you to partners: Kohler, Silestone, Bosch, Hafele, Kessebohmer, autokitchen and Kravet who donated products or services and who had the vision to know this renovation would use their products in interesting and creative ways!


International Kitchen Design 2013 - Introduction to IMM Cologne

Attending the Living Kitchen fair in Cologne, Germany, as a special guest of BLANCO and member of BLANCO's Design Council, is the equivalent of closing your eyes as you prepare to go to sleep and soon after, entering dreamland - kitchen dreamland!

The kitchen dream is intense, one of those really vivid dreams; it takes you to wonderful new frontiers in kitchen design and technology. There is beauty in many forms, you're surrounded by great people, many of whom are real life friends! This kitchen dreamland, Living Kitchen, is an international fair, showcasing kitchen products from 20 countries and takes place in 11 halls, set up like a campus.

For the moment, I'll share a few fun images of large, graphic, design elements that are part of a booth's design as well as accessories that embellish an individual kitchen display to get us warmed up for the posts coming shortly!

At last count, and this is probably close to the final count, I see that I took 1,744 images, with possibly a small amount of more images to count.

I worked this show as I do all shows-with a hunger to find common threads in different product and lifestyle categories among hundreds of displays. And, I love the process of the hunt and discovery!! 

Just prior to arriving in Germany, I spent 3 days in Copenhagen to visit family, collect my Scandinavian magazines that I love so much (19 of them, this time) and run through a number of showrooms to see the latest in Scandinavian design, which I will compare to what I saw in Germany. I have about 650 gorgeous images from those few days - more, beautiful, discoveries!!


I've already categorized all of my images, looked through them to find those common (mainstream) threads, uncovered some peripheral trends, and evaluated a bunch of products and/or design elements that qualify for "the cool factor" which I will also show...and more. There is a wealth of information and images to come, so stay tuned!!


So much more eye candy to come!


For My Martha Stewart Radio Listeners - Summer Kitchen Style!

What a pleasure to be on Martha Stewart again, today, my third appearance. It's always fun and inspiring to chat with Brian Kelsey on Morning Living - he has so MANY quick, out-of-the-box great ideas on making your home your personal sanctuary - not to mention creative laboratory!

Here are tips on summer style for the kitchen that I prepared, which, at this writing before the show, I'm not sure we will get to cover. Please add yours too!

  • change out kitchen/breakfast room rugs for a casual/summery look
  • de-clutter countertops (de-clutter at the change of each season to keep ahead of clutter accumulation & dust)
  • gather vases nearby in different sizes for freshly cut garden flowers for a fragrant (and colorful) and ever changing treat from nature
  • speaking of vases-flea market finds of mason jars add a country vibe – better yet, paint the inside of these fun jars bold or pastel colors
  • start an indoor kitchen herb garden - you'll have success via increased daylight over spring/summer months
  • change/remove window treatments for a lighter look
  • replace the breakfast room seat cushions for a fresh look
  • have outdoor cooking equipment accessible & rethink/rearrange indoor summer storage needs - i.e. salad bowls, stainless skewers, grill racks 
  • keep outdoor dishes/glasses/flatware accessible
  • keep outdoor platters accessible
  • fill a glass bowl with limes and lemons for a citrus and color vibe
  • fill a mason jar with fresh herbs in a little waer – savory scent will last nearly a week
  • keep kitchen stocked with easy nibbles – cheeses, nuts, olives & drinks for spontaneous alfresco dining
  • use your COLORFUL plastic dishes and glasses and for easy living
  • stylish melamine trays are great for multiple uses-colorful
  • add sheer breezy panels on windows
  • fresh hand towels in summer colors
  • fresh fragrant candles, hand soap, citrus potpourrin
  • natural fibers – baskets, fiber rugs, placemats for that earthy organic look
  • coastal themed decorative objects – on textiles, jars of shells, nautical prints/paintings
  • hunt on the beach for driftwood, sea glass, shells, rocks
  • bring outdoor terracotta pots - even the large ones, indoors for indoor garden style-a great look

See my pinterest board for Martha Stewart summer style listeners!

A bundle of fresh colored summer rugs


Decorate - A Book by Holly Becker of Decor8 Blog

BUY THE BOOKBUY THE BOOK!Decorate, a new book by Holly Becker of the iconic blog, Decor8, is an ambitious book (that's the word that comes to mind). There is an enormous number of images for maximum visual delight, clearly and well written text as well as the ability to quickly drill down to the essence of each chapter and core message via quotes, lists, tips, shaded content boxes and other visual aids.

I love this kind of reference material. Give me the option to read or to look quickly for information. To me, this is a useful format, or mix of formats.

I am privileged to have been quoted in the kitchen section of this book in numerous places. It is an honor to me that Holly Becker sought out my insight on the topic of kitchen design. That said, while Holly Becker is a respected and treasured blogging buddy/colleague/friend since early 2007, I have declined to review books by other design industry peers, some of whom had been colleagues of mine (past tense-unfortunately, declining to review a book costs relationships) for many years. It's lovely that I am quoted in this book, but if I did not find the book to have real value in terms of solid and quality design information, I would pass it by and not review it.

In the kitchens section, on page 148, the introductory paragraph is such an inspiring yet succinct, description of what the role of the kitchen can be in our lives. To get this philosophy right, puts anyone on the right track who is planning a kitchen renovation. 

There are countless references to personalizing the kitchen in Decorate that are truly creative. It takes some thought to be creative, which means it takes quality time. More often than not, the content that I see around the web or elsewhere which focuses on creative solutions for kitchen storage, design, whatever it is, is sorely lacking in creative thinking.

The suggestions, tips, ideas on personalizing the kitchen in Decorate, are both enlightening and fresh and are accessible to nearly everyone (perhaps with the exception of the Michael S. Smith sink for Kallista) ;) 

The sections of the kitchen chapter are sort of divided into how we live - Casual Eating, Cook's Kitchen, Built-in Storage, Urban Kitchen and others. I find that the text teaches by describing various lifestyle scenarios which helps the reader to visualize a look more completely. But, it goes even further, describing the feelings that certain creative ideas may elicit, such as mismatching china, how to design in comfort and other creative ideas. At the end of the day, when you stand at the doorway to your kitchen, it's lovely to feel the way you had hoped you would feel at the start of the process, when finally surveying the result of all that work. 

Most of the kitchens in the book are white and modern, but with personal touches, which is the point of the book. You will not find cookie cutter kitchens from manufacturers' brochures here. These are each a personal expression and illustrations of that classic design conflict of function vs. aesthetics that each of us has to reconcile for ourselves - hopefully under the guidance of a kitchen design professional who is understanding of the client's needs and desires.

I'm also thrilled that the social kitchen, a concept that I've talked about for some years, has a special section as well. The advice is there for the taking, without scolding or demanding or even nudging. It's positive and enthusiastic voice is the voice of the Holly I know and many of us are familiar with. The rest of the book? It's awesome. Decorate.