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New Kitchen Design Ideas
Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS, has been the owner of Susan Serra Associates, Inc., a kitchen and bath design firm, for nearly 20 years. Susan's experience in kitchen design includes being an award winning designer, a speaker on kitchen design, and a judge of product innovations for industry publications, among other accomplishments. Susan's design work has appeared in many national home design magazines, websites and blogs and is a go-to source for the media on kitchen design issues. Susan's blog, www.thekitchendesigner.org is the most widely read blog on kitchen design by a professional kitchen designer.

1. All those years back, what made you choose kitchen design as a career?

Thank you for the question. For me, kitchen design is the perfect juxtaposition of analytic and creative work. Quite honestly, I was drawn to kitchen design as a young mother of two, soon three, starting to build my nest. We had purchased a new home and the kitchen became a source of great design interest, so I do believe it was a very natural and very fulfilling evolution for me. I promptly became a member of the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) and worked my way to a Certified Kitchen Designer designation.

2. Can you tell our readers about the field of kitchen design in general?

All these years later, I LOVE the kitchen and bath industry. It is an industry which relates to fashion in design and materials, and such incredible materials there are in the marketplace! The field of kitchen design inspires creative thought in so many different ways. The community of peers and allied professionals is second to none, and lifelong friends and colleagues are made, friends to whom you can turn to if you need guidance or answers on a project or for issues in your business.

3. In your opinion, what are the core principles of any kitchen design process?

I do find it helpful that my clients have a vision of what the kitchen will look like and feel like and to keep that vision in mind throughout the process. However, it is helpful to be flexible and change one's design path when it makes sense aesthetically or functionally. It is also an excellent time to evaluate what one really needs in regard to storage, rather than to have a "default" response to completely maximize storage, which is not only expensive, but can feel confining. Designing inadequate space around appliances is critical, and aisles and walkways are probably THE most important piece of the design process.

4. How do you come up with new kitchen design ideas?

I definitely feel like I wish to reinvent the wheel for each client. In order to create original design work, I allow ample time. Time breeds creativity and attention to detail. I do not rush the process. I put on music, get into a zone (a must) and just think about shapes and forms at first, very simple concepts, which then evolve from there. One must be willing to "play" a bit with lines on paper (in my case on the computer) which takes quality time. A designer should not fear coloring outside the lines!

5. What are the new and upcoming trends in kitchen design?

Our walls came down in the 80s and 90s. Today, even MORE walls are coming down! We're moving toward the desire to live in a loft type of design, one which is open, casual (yet it can have a serious traditional decor if desired) and especially, an environment where communication with our families and friends is easy and relaxed. I also firmly believe that kitchens are moving more toward adding an element of comfort. I define comfort as adding soft furnishings, large media, "living room" artwork, sconces, in a sophisticated, authentic decorative layer that feels GOOD to be surrounded by.

6. What tips can you give our readers who are looking to re-design their kitchens?

If you can afford to, interview (very important) and hire a good kitchen designer. Write down a list of questions of what is important to you in a designer and ask those questions. Look at a designer's body of work. Talk to the designer; do you feel compatible with him or her? Are you listened to? Take care that professional qualities and attributes are present in the designer's resume as well as listening to your own gut feeling. Look to NKBA.org to find a designer and a finding a CKD to work with is a plus, as there are continuing educational requirements to maintain one's CKD status.

7. Which kitchen design publications would you recommend as good reads?

Definitely my blog www.thekitchendesigner.org! You can also follow original content of mine at the Sears blog, as well as Decorati.com and there will be others soon; keep watching.

Otherwise, I love the kitchens in House Beautiful magazine, Better Homes and Gardens Kitchens and Baths magazine and Dwell. For more inspiration in kitchens, look at houzz.com and for sometimes-quirky kitchens, go to www.thekitchn.com. I do like California Home and Design magazine for that very cool western look. They have a great kitchens edition.

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