trade secrets: kitchen renovations part one – layout and flooring materials

clients often seek out my services when renovating their kitchens, as it can be an extremely daunting task to take on! not to mention it is easily the single most expensive renovation there is. most people are shocked to find out the renovation costs for a kitchen, but that is why it is so important to make the right decisions from all angles! you want to have everything you are dreaming of, but you also must remember resale and return on your investment. otherwise you will spend $50k on a kitchen that potential buyers will see the need to spend $30k to change!

so lets start with the bones of your existing kitchen and the floorplan you hope to have. many people buying older homes to renovate find that the kitchens of the past don’t serve all of our needs today. for example, we want space to eat in our kitchen, whether that is a built in banquette, counter stools/an island or a small breakfast table. these days we don’t have all the time to sit down at the dining room table for every meal. we also find that most people want an open kitchen, which was not commonly built before the 90s! so in order to interact with family and guests while cooking, you find yourself needing to knock out a wall or two. well, we don’t see the open kitchen plan going away anytime soon, so knock out those walls as you please!

the next important factor in the floorplan of your kitchen is the ‘work triangle’. not only is this the most comfortable way to work in the kitchen, but it is a formula designers use to ensure workflow ease. while we know this cannot apply exactly to every kitchen out there, it is an important rule to follow as best you can. below are some examples of how to best apply this layout in various floorplans.

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if you are lucky enough to create an entirely new footprint in your kitchen, then you may be wondering about dimensions! since we are already talking work triangle, let us start there! a good rule of thumb is to have 36”-60” between any two surfaces. you need 36” to open appliance doors comfortably, but do not want to have to carry a hot dish more than 60”. it may be a fun idea to be able to dance in your kitchen, but remember it isn’t necessary!

now onto your counters! we are going to stick with standard suggestions in this blog for the sake of resale value, but remember you can adjust dimensions based on your foresight of staying in a home and your own height. if you have a young family of five, all well above average height, and building a custom home from the ground up, you may want things taller to better suit you. or vice versa, if you’re all shorties like the kpi ladies! counters should be 36” – 38” high and at the least, 24” deep. we suggest going as deep as your appliances, which is generally closer to 28”, to avoid constant variation in depth. Any deeper than 28” tends to be a hassle, as you start to be annoyed by reaching so far back in a lower cabinet.

speaking of cabinets, let us address upper cabinet spacing. your upper cabinets should be placed between 16” – 20” above your countertops. again, this depends on your height, and even the ceiling height in your kitchen. any higher than 20” will make it difficult to reach items, so we don’t suggest any higher regardless of having high ceilings. your upper cabinets should 12” – 14” deep, as not to interfere with your counter workspace.

now, if you are lucky enough to have an island, you may think bigger is better, but that is not always the case. the size of an island will depend greatly on your use of the island. will there be an additional sink at the island? will you put your cooktop here? or any other appliances? you may want to have space for counter stools. our two factors to keep in mind here are: 1) the distance you will have to reach across the island 2) depending on the material you use, most slabs are approximately 110” x 60”.

okay, now onto the fun stuff – surfaces! if you are doing a complete renovation, you have three areas to cover: flooring, countertops, and backsplash. we are going to cover flooring today and follow up on our next post with countertop and backsplash options! our personal favorite option for flooring is hardwood, especially if your ground floor is hardwood in every other space. hardwood floors not for you? make sure you still focus on durability here, nothing too fragile! we love cement tiles for kitchen flooring as an alternative to wood, you can create fun patterns in custom color palettes, they have a rustic yet modern feel and really work in almost any style home. a cost effective kitchen flooring option that we love is vinyl tiles, or marmoleum, it’s eco friendly counterpart. you can keep it simple, and go with one color throughout, or create checkerboard patterns, chevrons, or random patterns for a little whimsy! below are some of our favorite materials and sources to help you get the look in your own home!

reclaimed wood flooring via

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reclaimed wood floors in kitchen by kishani perera inc.

catalina 10 custom cement tiles via

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be sure to subscribe to our blog to follow our complete kitchen renovation series! and please feel free to leave any questions in the comments below! we know we can’t cover every detail, and we love to hear from you!

art house: andy goldsworthy

world renowned, award winning artist, andy goldsworthy, has had the world in awe for close to 40 years. thanks to mister finch we got a look at some of his newer work recently and are enraptured all over again. goldsworthy, is a british sculptor, photographer and environmentalist, who produces site-specific sculpture and land art situated in natural and urban settings. most of us were introduced to goldsworthy in the 2001 documentary directed by thomas riedelsheiner, rivers and tides, which documents goldsworthy in action, at home in his natural surroundings. if you havent seen it, is a must watch and can be viewed in its entirety on youtube.

goldsworthy is most famous for his ephemeral works, in which he often uses only his bare hands, teeth, and found tools to prepare and arrange the materials. the materials used in his art often include brightly colored flowers, icicles, leaves, mud, pinecones, snow, stone, twigs, and thorns. there is no glue involved, no paint, no scissors, just nature. goldsworthy takes great pride in the process of his art, which seems to provoke a meditative quality in creator and viewer. his work below is just a small sampling of his large and ever growing collection.

via museum of peripheral art

via goldsworthy digital catalogue 

via iamparagon



bibliophile: conservatory style

this weekend we were especially inspired by nature (and home additions) so we decided to revisit the beautiful book ‘conservatory style’ by jackum brown. this book covers conservatories in all forms; from greenhouses, to sunrooms, to glass houses. they have transformed immensely over the years and can now be found in every shape and size in every climate, thanks to modern day engineering!

the first ‘orangeries’ were built of stone and wood in the 16th century in the netherlands. at this time, exotic plants and herbs were being discovered overseas and they needed to find a way to protect them from harsh winters. these orangeries developed into greenhouses, but were difficult to catch on during the 17th century due to the expense. greenhouses were built exclusively by royalty and those of extreme wealth until the 19th century, when the mass production of sheet glass began. the mid 1800s saw the beginning of of new architecture in private and public greenhouses alike. wrought and cast iron frames made it possible to create curved structures with domed roofs. this, of course, was followed by the famous crystal palace in london designed by joseph paxton.

the 1800s saw a boom of domestic conservatories added onto the homes of middle and upper class families. it is at this time that greenhouses transformed into what most of us know them as, ‘sunrooms’. people began placing plants around the perimeter of the room allowing space for dining and socializing in the room. thus, making it a sun filled room to enjoy all the beauty of nature without the bother of bugs or the threat of rain!

the early 1900s saw war and recession, bringing the conservatory boom to a halt until the 1970s when the trend came back once and for all! perhaps this is why our parents and grandparents had far more fascination with having a sunroom in their home. something they grew up knowing as a luxury, we have never known life without!

well, now that you know the history of ‘conservatory style’, we want to share some of our favorites from jackum brown’s beautiful book!

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hunt & gather: no-carve pumpkins

we are pretty big fans of fall here at kpi! mostly because that means we have three holidays to use as perfect excuses for redecorating! there is just something about the colors of fall that inspire that homey, cozy feeling! we love the beautiful reds and oranges, that go so well with our favorite shades of black and brown! so when halloween comes around, we are ready to get going with our pumpkin decorating! although we will admit, we aren’t much for the mess of carving these days! we prefer glam pumpkins that we can keep a little longer than a hollowed out jack-o-lantern. so this past week we spent a little too much time researching our next pumpkin project, and just had to share with you our favorite finds! this is the edited list! thanks to pinterest and all of the amazing bloggers out there, we could keep this list going for days!

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aesthetically speaking: into the woods

we’ve been using wood for thousands of years for both construction and fuel, but artists are constantly trying to expand our perception of how wood can be used. once we saw the unique wooden textiles of elisa strozyk, we began searching for other innovative wood projects. with the ongoing trend of repurposing reclaimed wood for all types of projects, the natural beauty of wood has come back into focus. the artists’ work shown below has taken wood and furniture construction to the next level.

yard sale project is made up of two artists, ian spencer and cairn young, based out of london. with their many furniture pieces, they have utilized a chaotic mixture of woods and made them feel harmonious and balanced. by using this chaotic construction technique, ysp has broken free of traditional woodwork boundaries. we are amazed by their chair, roccapina v, and would love to see it in person! for more work by yard sale project, check out their website.

via yard sale project

best known for being a well-rounded artist and social activist, ai wei wei’s work encompasses diverse fields including fine arts, curating, architecture, social criticism, and more recently, music videos. his work entitled “grapes” 2011 is a poignant example of artwork that defies outdated notions about culture. the stools, from the qing dynasty 1644-1911, have been expertly utilized to complete ai wei wei’s grape-like design. If you like “grapes”, check out his website, where you can see how diverse and adept ai wei wei really is!

via ai weiwei

chilean born, and now new york based, sebastian errazuriz is an artist and designer capable of holding two opposing ideas in his mind at once. the porcupine cabinet does just that, and questions the traditional cost-efficient paradigm of how furniture must be made. pieces from errazuriz will make a statement in any home or place of business, as well as function for everyday use. pictured with his tree table, sebastian is as sleek as his designs. for more statement pieces by sebastian errazuriz check out his website.

closed porcupine cabinet by sebastian errazuris via kishani perera blog

via sebastian errazuriz

art house: focus on food

for centuries, in nearly ever crevice of the world, artists of every medium have found inspiration by simply playing with their food. although, when we think of food in art, playfulness does not necessarily come to mind. for most of us, we recall something from a distant art history class, like the expertly crafted still-life’s of giusseppe arcimboldo, but today’s artists haven taken food to a new level. leaving their oil paints and fruit baskets behind.

for artist caitlin freeman, it wasn’t arcimboldo that inspired her to become a baker, but the accurately portrayed buttercream party cakes of wayne thiebaud. freeman creates sweet confections and fancy snacks based on special exhibits at san francisco’s museum of modern art. in her new book, “modern art desserts,” she details all the recipes and stories from her self proclaimed dream job, which she describes as responding to art through food.

inspired by thiebaud paintings, caitlin freeman creates confecti

via dessarts

via afinedayfor

taking typography to a new medium, austrian photographer and designer marion luttenberger has created a series of experimental typefaces using materials like food, fur, and water droplettes. some of her pieces feature words that are compiled of what they mean, like strips of bacon arranged to form the word “meats”. luttenberger does not try to preserve her works, and returns the typefaces back to their 2d state by photographing them.

via marion luttenberger

the ceramic sculptures of anna barlow will leave you hungry for more. their delightfully grotesque yet realistic nature seems to pull inspiration from our culture’s appetite for food, and the decadence of 17th century french aristocracy. barlow is interested in how food tells a story of the people it’s eaten by, and the place it’s in. like something out of sofia coppola’s film, marie antoinette, her sculptures are poised on the edge of ruin and decay.

via anna barlow

from garden grenades to dinner settings, the melbourne-based designer turns everyday oddities into iconic art. sonia rentsch is an expert in crafting clever concepts into deceptively effortless scenes, and has produced work for clients including the washington postqantas, inside out, desktop, & the d&ad award winning publication rare medium. her work seems to recall a simpler time, when no one worried about where their food came from, but it also captures the shocking experience our culture currently has with food.

via sonia rentsch

wanderlust: glamping

with fall officially here, the cooler days are perfect for outdoor adventures! we actually rather camp in the cooler days than try to beat the heat all summer! well, lets be honest, we are more of the glamping type! we highly prefer a vintage airstream trailer to a pitched tent on the hard ground. we swear we aren’t high maintenance, but we just appreciate running water, electricity, a door to close, and you know, maybe a stove for our teapot. okay okay, so we are a little high maintenance, but the world is catering to it now and who are we to deny ourselves the adventure of camping in a glamorous way? from santa barbara, to oregon, then british columbia, and over to montana! you can find a glamping retreat almost anywhere these days! we’ve lined up our top four glamping destinations to share with you, so prepare for wanderlust overdrive! just be realistic and be sure to pack the appropriate shoes!

first on our list is the most convenient, el capitan canyon in santa barbara, ca. here you can rough it in a safari tent, find a happy medium in a yurt, or go with our choice, a cedar cabin with a fireplace and soaking tub! wherever you choose to sleep, you’ll still have the same opportunity to hike, kayak, swim in the heated swimming pool, or pamper yourself with a massage!

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second on the list, just keep heading up the coast, and find yourself a limited spot at green springs inn & cabins, just east of ashland, oregon! while there won’t be any spa services here, we think the in-cabin hot tubs and full kitchens make this more of a lazy weekend getaway! which means you can even ‘camp’ here in the snowy months and enjoy a nature filled visit, complete with a sleigh ride at the right time of year!

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for our third glamping spot, just head even further up the coast of course! way north (and across the border) to rockwater secret cove resort in british columbia. we’ll admit, this is more glamour than camping, but they still have cabins and tenthouses. which are a bit of a hike to arrive at, so it qualifies! they have a range of activities including yoga, hiking, fishing, and even nearby museums for a rainy day. then of course they have your relaxation essentials at the spa, followed by a fine dining experience to ensure you get the vacation you need!

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our fourth and final favorite will take you east, into greenough, montana to the resort at paws up. here you can stay in a luxury cabin with all of the convenience of a home amidst nature, complete with a private pitched tent for an adventure for the kids, or ‘rough it’ in a luxury tent! with an endless array of activities, multiple restaurants, and of course, a spa, this just might be the best glamping spot we have discovered yet!

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las vegas market recap

it’s been a whirlwind since my recent style scouting trip to the las vegas market!

i love this market, it allows me the opportunity to check in, and see what was new with some of my favorite companies, as well as meet with the people behind the brands that i hope to partner with in the future.

this year, the las vegas market proved to be a welcoming experience from day to night!

day one of market i met with mallory evans, associate editior of luxe interiors + design magazine, bright and early to begin our tour of the world market center. our focus started with the exciting new c-one floor at building c, but we made our way through all three buildings. we were in search of great style and had so much to see with the many exhibitors showcasing this year! our findings formed the foundation for our panel and discussion on style scouting. it was truly a pleasure to be given a platform to share my design ideas with market attendees, as well as share our favorites from each showroom we visited. after the discussion, i even held a book signing for my first book, vintage remix. i enjoyed creating this book so much, i am already contemplating what the next one will be about!

color, in general, fuels me like nothing else! i loved seeing all of the bright, saturated colors; they are like my happy pill! these rugs show how color was represented almost as a painting, or work of art on a product. which is your favorite?

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i also love when color is understated or subtle. these rugs display how color can be awe-inspiring even in a spectrum of options that are more muted, but still gorgeous! you can really get a sense of the rich history and culture that may have inspired them.

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neutrals, from beige to camel to tan, seemed to get a noticeable amount of floor space at the market this year. and although i’m not one for a room full of neutrals,  i saw great pieces that could easily be incorporated into one of my rooms with their unique craftsmanship and interesting lines. i couldn’t help but take notice!

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if you are looking for glamor, there is no place more fitting than the christopher guy showroom! christopher guy’s mademoiselle collection is full of beautiful, feminine pieces that bring just the right curve to a room. mixing one or two of the pieces from this collection into a space would bring that element of surprise, while still maintaining a classic, elegant vibe.

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i love lighting that can elevate a room, adding an element of interest and artistry in addition to simply illuminating a room. at this market i was drawn to lighting that could be the focal point of a room, didn’t take itself too seriously, or was made from re-purposed materials. those were the real standouts for me!

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metallics were also quite prominent this year, silvers, nickels, and gold were everywhere you looked. i was especially drawn to the combination of metallics and nature inspired elements, from twigs to leaves! i love to bring nature indoors, and this is a great way to do so while adding a bit of glam. and the best part? these ‘plants’ will never die so no worries about watering them!

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a collection or grouping of similar items can anchor a beautiful setting on a dresser or wall. i loved seeing all of the great trays and decorative boxes. from modern to vintage, and every style in between.

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ethnic and graphic patterns continue to make their presence known in ways that feel transitional, so you can make them work in a variety of lifestyle settings.

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i have always been drawn to disembodied heads, busts, and hands. some people may find this odd, but i just love them! the body is a recurring decorative theme used in many of my projects. they can serve a functional as well as aesthetic purpose. i use hand figurines or mannequins to hold jewelry all the time. i have even started to re-purpose vintage retrofitted dress forms into floor lamps as a part of my custom lighting collection. as i walked the market floors, i came upon different ways that whole or parts of the body were used on fabrics, walls, or decorative elements. i guess i’m not the only one off-kilter out there, that was reassuring!

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there is an energy about las vegas that is undeniable. you don’t usually think about las vegas as a destination for residential design, but this isn’t your parent’s sin city. it has evolved immensely over the last decade. from the architecture, to the cuisine, there is inspiration, not just perspiration, to be found when visiting in the middle of the summer. this was most evident at the cosmopolitan of las vegas where i thoroughly enjoyed my stay! from the west lobby’s led columns with changing scenes, to the chandelier bar. this place is full of design eye candy!

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now the thought of coming back to las vegas in the summer doesn’t seem like a place i would avoid. my brand manager, richard morales, and i enjoyed our time this year and look forward to coming back again. next up, is high point market. i’m excited to see what gets introduced there. we are making our way toward maison & objet, the design market that my dreams are made of, in paris, france. also, two places i highly recommend that you make dinner reservations for while in las vegas are sensi at the bellagio and nobu at caesar’s palace. you will love the design as much as the food!

for more exclusive photos from las vegas market, be sure to follow me on twitter, instagram, and facebook.

(we’re happy to have you share our photos anywhere you’d like, but please credit kishani perera. thanks!)