Kelly Wearstler's 6 Rules for Kitchen Design

Food & Wine: Kelly Wearstler.
Kelly Wearstler. Photo courtesy of Mark Edward Harris.
Talented interior designer Kelly Wearstler offers these strategies for kitchen design.
Kelly Wearstler

Plus: Kelly Wearstler's Top Kitchen Designs

6 Rules

1. Be Bold with White

When used generously, white can make just as much of a statement as color. For a client's stainless steel–and–white kitchen, Kelly Wearstler chose Calcutta marble for the countertops, walls and floor, and accessorized with a white-handled knife set. She also created copies of a vintage chinoiserie-style chandelier, then painted them glossy white.

Kelly Wearstler

Photo courtesy of Grey Crawford

2. Play with Color and Pattern

Hue, Wearstler's new book, is all about the power of color. For her guest house, Wearstler chose teal fabrics in different patterns from a collection she designed for Groundworks at Lee Jofa: "Sea Urchin" for the window treatment and "Confetti" trimmed with "Fretwork" for the tablecloth (from $60 a yard; The trim echoes the porcelain tile floor.

3. Open Up Cabinets

In the guest house, Wearstler installed a glass front in the upper cabinets: "A mirrored back, glass shelves and interior lighting create the illusion of more space."

4. Mix Materials

Wearstler will sometimes use two or three kinds of stone in a kitchen: "You would never have two of the same big tables in a living room, so why would you want to have two islands with the same countertops?"

5. Use Pendant Lighting

"Recessed ceiling lights make everyone have raccoon eyes," Wearstler says. "Chandeliers are so much sexier." In the kitchen of her guest house, she hung a vintage Murano glass chandelier from Paris to create a dramatic focal point over the table.

Kelly Wearstler

Photo courtesy of Kelly Wearstler, Inc

6. Hide Paper Towels

One of Wearstler's biggest pet peeves is seeing paper towel rolls on the counter: "It's not very glamorous," she says. "It looks like toilet paper hanging out in the kitchen." In her own kitchen, she hides the roll by hanging it vertically inside the cabinet door under the sink. For clients who like leaving the holder out, Wearstler compromises by recessing it in the island, as in the steel-and-white kitchen.

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