The Non-Kitchen: Create a Livable Kitchen Space

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A few years ago, I settled on the concept of a ‘non-kitchen.’ Rather than creating a distinct and recognizable space, I envisioned a dream kitchen that simply extends from my living area – a well-decorated and absolutely tasteful corner of the room where one also happens to prepare food. The idea originally came by way of a design magazine editorial. It featured an eat-in kitchen with artwork in lieu of upper cabinets and a gorgeous wooden bookcase for storage. “That’s not a kitchen,” I thought. “It’s a non-kitchen,” the perfect solution for those with small and/or open layouts. The goal is to minimize visual disruptions by incorporating the kitchen into the overall design concept.

Conceal those appliances

The Non-Kitchen
Image: Greg Natale

Appliances can be absolutely beautiful. With a range of color and styles, many homeowners choose their appliances as showpieces to be coveted and admired. But, of course, nothing is an easier tell. This example by designer Greg Natale shows how paneling can conceal appliances making the kitchen much less kitchen-like.

Bonus Tip: For a seamless flow between spaces, create a kitchen island that resembles a piece of furniture. Here, the island looks more like a chic console than a place to make dinner.

Lose the hardware

Hardware Free Cabinets
Image: Richard Found via Elle Décor

Once appliances are hidden away, go a step further by losing the hardware on cabinets and drawers. With options like hidden pulls or push-to-open mechanisms, this approach further blurs the line between living and cooking space. Examples by Richard Found and Norm Architects demonstrate the clean lines of kitchens sans hardware. Though contrasting in color, both spaces remain visually unobtrusive.

White Kitchen
Image: Norm Architects via Yazter

Add art and accessories

Wood Kitchen
Image: Nuevo Estilo

Forget the conspicuous backsplash. Incorporate color and interest through art and decorative accessories. Although this space by designer Elisa Rodríguez has some very obvious kitchen features, it’s also layered with homey touches like a collection of baskets, area rug, modern lighting, and artwork.

Image: Architectural Digest

The kitchen of a Manhattan penthouse by Len Morgan uses the same limed, oak panels and built-ins as found throughout the rest of the home. A wood table, Hans Wegner chairs, and accessories add warmth while the lack of upper cabinets makes the room feel light and more livable.

Remember, your kitchen is valuable square footage. For some home owners, disguising and decorating can actually increase its utility.

Are you ready to try the non-kitchen?

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Desiré is a designer, blogger, and lover of all things glamorous. Though primarily a self-taught decorator, Desiré studied at The Art Institute, where she honed a distinct aesthetic largely influenced by the Modern Glamour movement, the theme of her popular design blog, Sukio. Not only is she considered a "closet fashionista," discreetly stashing handbags and shoes whenever possible, but, as an MIT graduate, she’s also an undercover nerd. Fashion, nerdom, and several years as a Washingtonian have combined to shape her unique perspective on interior design.