Author Archives: Karen Williams

About Karen Williams

Karen Williams, Principal of St. Charles of New York, is an award-winning New York City-based designer of highly custom kitchens and other rooms for discerning clients. Her work crowns homes across the U.S. plus overseas, as well. Regularly featured in national design publications such as Elle Decor, Hamptons, Robb Report, and Traditional Home, Williams created test kitchens for House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, and Food & Wine magazines. Celebrity jewelry Joan Hornig, Union Square Hospitality’s Michael Romano, and Robin Roberts, founder of Clarence House Fabrics, all have her kitchens, as do many shelter magazine editors. She has been selected four times to participate in the prestigious Kips Bay Decorator Show House, and was also invited to do a kitchen in the ASID show house for the Scarsdale Women’s Club. Most recently, Williams was awarded the Global First Place Award in the Traditional category in the kitchen design contest conducted by Sub-Zero and Wolf —the only American to take a first prize honor in the 2010-2012 contest. Williams is passionate about food and wine, regularly participating in cooking demonstrations with high profile chefs and traveling frequently to France and Napa for wine tastings, and to Italy and Germany for design shows. Her insights as an accomplished cook enhance all of her kitchen designs. See more of her work on the St. Charles of New York website.

Ask an Expert: Karen Williams

By: Karen Williams from St. Charles of New York

Transforming a Small Kitchen into a Space For Entertaining

Q: Hi Karen, I love to cook but my apartment’s kitchen is pretty tiny. Do you have any tips on how to get the most functionality out of a small cooking space? Thanks! - Matt


A: Small kitchens are always challenging for someone who enjoys cooking. I like to find multi-functioning appliances like a micro/convection oven or steam/convection oven to use the space more efficiently. They're both relatively small and can function as a full oven if need be. Deep cabinets can be overrated. I’ve found that a wall with shallow cabinetry works quite well for small appliances and platters. Try putting additional drawers in the top base area or invest in a step stool for hard-to-reach items in upper cabinets. Another very simple fix is finding a cutting board that fits over your sink. It not only saves countertop space, but also allows for scraps to be scraped into the sink.


Ask an Expert with Karen Williams - on The Interior Collective

Image: Kitchen design by Karen Williams. This 9.5 x 19 foot kitchen cleverly incorporates storage solutions to maximize the size of the space.



Best Displays for Wine Collections

Q:Hi Karen, I love to cook in the kitchen but I also love keeping my wine collection in sight. What are some ways of incorporating wine storage into kitchen design without the possibility of damaging the wines from too much exposure to heat? Thanks! -Ellen



A: The only proper way to store wine is in a cool space or refrigerator. Try creating a place for this wine unit from Liebheri- it’s about the size of a microwave. There are also freestanding units that can double as an end
table in a seating area.


Kitchen Features for Entertaining


Q: Hi Karen! I’m currently in the market for a new home and at the top of my checklist is a stylish kitchen. Can you recommend some must-have features that are both functional and beautifully designed. Hoping to incorporate pieces that will transition from daily life to entertaining seamlessly. - Tessa


A: A stylish rolling cart is always a hit and it can act as an open bar where guest can help themselves. Another option is to utilize a beautiful built in Walnut top that can be used as both a prep area and a place to set appetizers or cheeses. Wine coolers or beverage drawers will be a welcome addition.


Autour by Karen Williams

Image: Autour designed by Karen Williams. This is a versatile staging, serving, and storage unit with a walnut top, ideal for prepping and entertaining.

Top 3 Trends in 2014 Kitchen Design: Sleek Style and Forward-Thinking Function

Image: Designed by Karen Williams, St. Charles of New York

By: Karen Williams

Remodeling spending has increased by 20% since 2012, and this surge of home improvement shows no signs of slowing down. * Kitchen upgrades will seize the spotlight in 2014, topping the list of spaces homeowners plan to remodel. ** It’s time to give the epicenter of your home some character; here are my predictions for the three hottest 2014 kitchen trends.



Fully Concealed Hoods


Contemporary kitchens with clean lines will persist in their popularity for 2014. The hood is an essential element of any kitchen ensuring proper ventilation; traditional hoods are large, bulky, and statement making, appropriate for some applications but not cutting-edge kitchen design. Accordingly, in an effort to foster a sleek aesthetic, designers are incorporating innovative concealed hoods, which maintain the necessary functionality yet incorporate organically into the space.


This kitchen in the Hamptons features a concealed hood. Only a simple metal strip is visible above the range creating a clean, chic look.


Modern Kitchen Hood - on The Interior CollectiveImage: Designed by Karen Williams, St. Charles of New York

Homeowners can also opt to hide their hoods completely within the cabinetry, making them highly versatile and customizable. Below is an example of a hood displaying both open and hidden states.



Concealed Kitchen Hood - on The Interior CollectiveImage: Designed by Robert Schwartz, St. Charles of New York



Concealed Kitchen Hood - on The Interior CollectiveImage: Designed by Robert Schwartz, St. Charles of New York



Modern Multi-Purpose Appliances



A new wave of forward-thinking kitchen devices serve many functions while boasting a simple, chic look.



La Cornue recently partnered with the French architect-designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte to create the new La Cornue W “prep table.” It makes an exceptional island but also functions as an induction table for those in need of more cooking surface area. With a minimalist silhouette, a top surface of oiled American oak, and three drawers, this beauty serves double duty and looks beautiful.



La Cornue W Prep Table - on The Interior CollectiveImage: La Cornue

Another ingenious appliance available in the coming year is the Scanomat TopBrewer. The in-counter coffee platform is installed into a regular kitchen counter leaving only the elegant spout in a choice of luxurious finishes and the integral round drip tray in sight. An under-counter cabinet cleverly hides the mechanics of the unit ensuring a sleek presentation and freeing up precious counter space.

The app-controlled and Bluetooth compatible TopBrewer can dispense your favorite drink in seconds with a mere touch of a button. It not only produces classic coffee beverages like espresso, macchiato and cappuccino, but also can dispense hot chocolate, ice water, and juice.
The TopBrewer’s self cleaning cycle nearly eliminates the tedium of maintenance. Whereas built-in coffee machines of the past decade were difficult to clean, a simple 1-minute automatic clean cycle rinses the whole TopBrewer machine after each day of use. It flushes both brewer and milk lines thoroughly, leaving no residues, minimizing contact with harsh cleaners, and shortening the daily cleaning routine. Bluetooth compatible TopBrewer - on The Interior CollectiveImage: Scanomat TopBrewer

Blinged Out Surfaces



They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but really won’t anything with sparkle and glitter do? Bring the glamour into the kitchen by accessorizing with lavish stones. Designers this year are increasing their experimentation with colorful semi-precious finishes such as blue agate and dumortierite in traditional island top applications, but also in less conventional places like sinks and drainboards. My particular favorite, Calacatta Gold marble, can create a subtle yet luxurious-looking workspace. A source I like to use for luxurious semi-precious stone surfaces is Concetto by Caesarstone.



Backsplashes made out of these precious materials are also rising in popularity; with more open space surrounding range hoods and sinks, there’s greater opportunity for large-scale, statement-making applications. Opt for slabs of marble and limestone that create works of art with natural veining or black Italian granite for a bold and sophisticated touch.



Semi Precious Finishes - on The Interior CollectiveImage: Designed by Karen Williams, St. Charles of New York

So go forth and renovate in the New Year. With an eye for well-appointed transitional and contemporary design and a bold hand to incorporate these stylish features, you’re sure to find yourself in possession of the hottest kitchen on the block.

* Source: Warmly Yours
** Source: The Zillow Digs Board of Designers survey

What trends are you predicting for 2014?