Kitchen Magic

New design book indulges homeowners and designers
By Chelsie Butler
June 10, 2013

Home design expert Sabine Schoenberg has recently published her new hands-on book Kitchen Magic: Secrets to Successful Kitchens, which is geared to homeowners but can be a useful tool for designers as well. 

“When you are trying to get a decision from a client about what they want out of their kitchen, the last thing a designer wants is a blank canvas,” she said. “This book is a way for the clients to do their homework first and educate themselves, and then they can have a dialogue with the designer and share opinions. It is wonderful for the client to be a part of that process.”

Schoenberg, who is the founder of the home design and products information website SabinesHomes.com, divided the book into several helpful sections. Design Fundamentals is a look at various kitchen projects across the globe – each with their own specific intent. “Simple & Robust” is an example of a kitchen that needed to be bulletproof – highly resistant to stains and spills. She also includes a questionnaire designed to help homeowners start the process of deciding what they want out of their kitchen design. 

“I used advice from many designers and clients over the years [when writing this book],” said Schoenberg. “Homeowners may know they want to make changes, but they don’t know how – or better yet, they don’t what experience they want from their new kitchen – and creating the concept is the first step.”

She also includes a section that points out some of the most basic kitchen design mistakes designers can make, such as using top hat lighting that is good for illuminating walkways but can cast shadows on work areas. Chapters on products and installation tips, as well as a guide on how to organize permits and contractors, round out the educational book. 

Schoenberg shared with K+BB some of her personal tips for designing a successful kitchen:

  • While people are spending a lot of money on design, take it a step further and invest in a water purification system, which can be available at various price points. “Unless you are in a very rural setting, you probably do not have good water,” she added. 
  • In terms of products, people think about countertops because they are seen and used the most. She suggests choosing a material based on lifestyle. Does it need to be low maintenance and durable? Then steel or concrete are options. Although soapstone is softer and not scratch resistant, it is more stately and can be sanded and refinished easily. 
  • From a practical installation point of view, Schoenberg is a big believer in recycling. People often get rid of old appliances that are still functional, and there are plenty of places where those can be donated for a tax credit. This can be done with construction materials as well, and she suggests having two dumpsters during a project to separate various materials. 

Another of Schoenberg’s tips revisits the new book, which she feels will help alleviate stress on the part of the homeowner and the designer. The learning curve the client will have from using the book will provide the designer with a clear direction, and there will be less time wasted because the details will already have been identified. 

“When a designer has good upfront organization, he/she can order materials ahead of time so everything is already there when the project begins,” she said, “which is good because the homeowners – not having access to their kitchen – want to get through the process as quickly as possible.”

When asked her definition of a truly successful kitchen design, Schoenberg described one that gives the client something extra. 

“If your coffee tastes better because you are in your new kitchen,” she said, “that is a success.”

The tagline on her website says it perfectly, “Improve your home, improve your life.”

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