Kitchen Trends: In & Out for 2016

Lead kitchen designers Karen Williams and Robert Schwartz share their predictions for popular trends in 2016. Joining us in conversation is Lindsey Katalan who discusses her observations on the accessories side of things.

What’s In?

KW: I’ve been working with my clients to pick out statement light fixtures for the kitchen space. The more exquisite the piece, the more inclined homeowners are to put it over their island counter top instead of tucking it away in the dining room”

Tananbaum IMG_0012A (C)201 4 Eric van den Brulle

The highlight of this kitchen is the custom designed statement chandelier over the island.

RS: Clients are becoming increasingly more receptive to kitchen technology. Whether it’s electronic lift mechanisms, movable islands, or self diagnostic appliances, the kitchen culture is embracing technological products that alleviate “old world problems”, if you will.

Horowitz - Copy (1024x252)

Three visuals of a movable marble backsplash that serves as a second, shallower wall.

LK: Bid adieu to the silver tray and start serving your guests on literal works of art. Porcelain is becoming the new medium for artists such as Marina Abramovic, Jeff Koons and David Lynch. Bernardaud encourages these artists to channel their artistic flare right onto the plate. Talk about a palate cleanser!

David Lynch’s limited edition porcelain artwork available through CURATED

David Lynch’s limited edition porcelain artwork available through our CURATED division.

What’s Out?

KW- I’m glad to see that heavy and over sized hardware is fading out. People are finally realizing that meat locker hinges are disproportionate to the cabinet size. Beautiful cabinetry should be showcased and not hidden behind bulky pulls and handles. I’m excited to see clients choosing more refined hardware in 2016.

RS: Built in coffee makers are being supplemented for small professional countertop models. People are becoming more discerning about every square inch of their kitchen space and ultimately realizing that coffee machines are too bulky for a single function that can be performed by a counter top appliance.

LK- The Sputnik light, my friends, used to be out of this world. Now let’s get it out of this world! Or at least back to Russia.


In Honor of the Olympics…A Fab Find From London

With the London Olympics already in full force, I’ve been reminiscing about my times in the games’ fantastic host city. I’ve had great luck shopping and design hunting in the land of royals. Take for example this unique red toaster I spotted in the storied department store Harrod‘s.  Bugatti’s Volo toaster is a stand-out, featuring a bold design, wide slots and a warming rack.  What I most love about it is that you don’t have to push anything or stick your finger in any slots to retrieve your toast. The gadget is motorized- your breakfast bread elevates itself once perfectly golden!

Wherever I go I often take snaps of great products like this one. Stay tuned for more fab finds from here in the States and around the world!
~ Karen Williams

Happy 4th of July!

It’s time to celebrate our nation’s independence! As the country gets ready for backyard BBQs and family parties, I thought I would share my July 4th menu with you. I’ll be heading out to Long Island and stopping at one of my favorite places, Briermere Farms for some peach cream pie and local corn – two perfect dishes for a nice patriotic meal!. The fresh fruit used in the bakery is grown right there on the farm. Gotta love that! I’m looking forward to spending time in the kitchen cooking with family and friends, as I am sure you are too. Wishing everyone a very Happy & Healthy 4th! Until next time…

~ Karen Williams


Robert Schwartz: K+BB’s Go-To Guy for Top Products

When K+BB magazine wanted an expert’s insights on top products, they sought advice from Robert Schwartz. First, he explained, versatility is his mantra, rather than a singular aesthetic, although he confessed to a fondness for a furniture aesthetic and eclecticism. He told the magazine, “I’m about multiple pieces, heights, textures and finishes all tastefully co-existing.”

KBB Oct. 2011 Favorites

His sensibilities are reflected in some favorites he shared with the editor. Take, for example, his high gloss-lacquered cabinet doors in car paint colors. “A client could request a cabinet in Mercedes Silver or BMW Alpine White and we would use the same paint formulation as the car company,” he explained. Schwartz also does metallics in high gloss lacquer, and often frames the door in nickel for a striking look.

St. Charles of New York auto doors
St. Charles of New York can match any auto color for cabinet doors, as illustrated by this fanciful display in their showroom.  Mercedes Silver anyone?

Another long-time but still fresh fav is white glass countertops which he has used for more than 20 years. Impervious to oil, lemon and wine, they are easy maintenance. And fronts can be mitered to any thickness, making them more versatile and convenient to transport than stone.

One reason Schwartz likes glass countertops is the fronts can be mitered to any desired thickness.

Schwartz also shed the light on LEDs which he thinks are  now “ready for prime time.” He likes the beautiful soft warm lighting for under cabinets, cabinet interiors, drawers and other kitchen applications.

drawer light
Soft light reveals the contents of a drawer.

Finally the Vinturi wine aerator is a favorite that lives close at hand in his own kitchen. A lover and collector of great wines, Schwartz can become impatient with the ritual of decanting and waiting until a red opens up. Pouring wine through the spinning Vinturi draws in air,  improving the bouquet and enhancing  flavors quickly. Cheers!

vinturi wine aerator
Schwartz appreciates the Vinturi for opening up red wines as they’re poured.

At the Architectural Digest show: Karen Williams

The design world changes rapidly and new innovations are always coming on the market. So I never miss a chance to attend a show, whether in my own back yard or in Europe.

At the Architectural Digest Home Design show here in New York , I listened to a stimulating panel discussion on designing for an aging population, led by my good friend and always energetic colleague Florence Perchuk. It got me to thinking about my own clients and how important it is for me to consider universal design as I create kitchens and baths for them. Timeless elements such as  good lighting, avoiding glare and slippery surfaces make sense now and will let them enjoy a retirement home long into the future.

Speaking of timeless, I loved what  the chic and articulate new editor of Architectural Digest, Margaret Russell had to say about embracing change while respecting the heritage of an icon. Since I’m working on several landmark homes now, her message really resonated with me.

My favorite French hardware company always has some amazing pieces.

Then there was the wonderful treasure hunt through the aisles looking for new finds for my projects. My favorite French hardware resource had some fabulous jewels. Plus I discovered an innovative new way to treat switch plates and outlets so they virtually disappear. A little thing, but it can make a huge difference in the look of a kitchen. That’s what I love…finding the unexpected.


Pro’s Picks: Unearthing Rare Brazilian Stone

Constantly on the lookout for the most unusual resources for his discriminating clients, Robert Schwartz uncovered a rare iceberg quartz from Brazil a year ago. He was attracted by its beautiful marble-like veining and clarity, plus its zero porosity, and thought it would make an excellent alternative to Calacutta Gold marble.

Intrigued, he immediately decided to test it out on his own kitchen table.

It performed impeccably, proving totally impervious to oil, wine, lemon and other acids with virtually no maintenance required. So Schwartz was convinced he could offer it with confidence.

Then began an exhaustive search for high quality slabs, but everything he saw was unacceptably yellow and overly variegated. Not at all suitable for his ultra-selective clients.

robert schwartz selecting rare brazilian stone

Eureka! After an exhaustive search, Robert Schwartz finally found the perfect pristine slabs of rare Brazilian quartz for his discriminating clients. The combination of beautiful veining and zero porosity makes this a most special resource.

Finally his persistence paid off and he struck gold…or quartz…finding the finest, most pristine slabs of the exotic stone. There’s nothing like it on the market, he reports.

Schwartz takes great pleasure in unearthing rare finds, knowing his clients always appreciate something unique.


Steam oven makes the most of summer corn: Karen Williams

Now that we’re at the peak of summer, fresh corn from the farmer’s market is on the menu almost nightly. Here’s where I love my steam oven. I put the corn in for three minutes, in or out of the husk, and it always comes out just right, moist and flavorful. Great for eating by itself, or in a corn, tomato and avocado salad. So much faster and easier than boiling it.

I love my steam oven for corn and three-minute eggs. And because it's also a convection oven, it does double duty.

I love my steam oven for corn and three-minute eggs. And because it's also a convection oven, it does double duty.

With all the house guests in the summer, the steam oven comes in handy for breakfast too. I break an egg into an individual ramekin, add some gruyere, salt and pepper, and steam for three minutes. Perfect! And everyone can eat on their own schedule.


Great new prep center sink: Karen Williams

A great prep sink. I'd put the Crevasse into a butcher block station.

A great prep sink with disposal. I'd put the Crevasse into a butcher block station.

I’m all about the importance of the prep center. Good prep is the secret to great food, so the prep center is really the heart of the kitchen. That’s why I love this cool and convenient stainless sink with disposal. Scrape your peelings into it, touch a button, and the water sends everything into the disposer. There are three rinse cycles. The sink is compatible with all continuous-feed disposals and measures about 31 inches by 6 inches.


Bob’s Picks from KBIS

Yes, there were a few cool things that caught my eye at KBIS this year. First, I loved the new take on Kohler’s funky Karbon articulated faucet. There’s a wall-mount kitchen version now and a wall-mount bath version.  Plus more finishes. My particular favorite is the gold. We have the original silver in our showroom.

Cool new Karbon faucet.
Cool new Karbon faucet.

Another new twist on an existing product was the GE Monogram induction cooktop. It’s in a fresh  reflective stainless metallic finish that’s a great departure from the traditional black.

Love the new color for an induction top.
Love the new color for an induction top.

And of course, being a wine aficionado I had to check out the True Refrigeration under counter stainless wine units. I loved both their digital readouts and their  stainless shelves (as opposed to the wood looks on other wine units.)  Plus, they can be used outdoors as well as inside, and are stackable. The shelves can be changed out, too, so they convert to a regular under counter fridge. Great versatility.

A highly versatile and attractive wine fridge.

A highly versatile and attractive wine fridge.