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  • The Materials of EuroCucina 2012

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    Marble countertops black porcelain bar top and cutting board.

    It's been an amazing week in Milan. Still jet lagged and trying to get this electrical situation straight, but it's all OK. Because I was not able to charge my battery on my camera, I'm delivering you some shots of the fabulous products at EuroCucina via my not so fabulous camera phone! There were some amazing new materials introduced this year and I'm extremely excited about them! Also, the combination of materials was stunning and created so much dimension. The kitchens really became one with nature without having that reclaimed feeling we've been seeing for the past few years. The above kitchen mixed thin black porcelain tile, marble slabs, and butcher block to create this piece of art, standardly called an island. The porcelain tile wraps the modern faucet, the marble caps the downdraft, and the cutting board rests and slides along the length of the island. It is pure genius!

    Concrete cabinetry with concrete countertops

    This concrete kitchen was one of my absolute favorites from the shows. You may think that the doors are going to weigh a ton, but not with the new technology! The concrete material is basically veneered on a solid panel. This gives you the complete look of concrete, but without the weight. The drawers operate smoothly and the look is something that is so unique! The contemporary lighting options for the concrete are endless, but personally I love it with modern industrial floor lamps. Big things to come with concrete cabinetry and concrete furniture.    

    Stone Veneer Cabinetry and Wall Panel with Oak Cabinetry

    The thin stone veneer panels make beautiful drawer fronts! The mitered edges on this cabinet work so perfectly with the clean and perfectly straight edges of the stone veneer. The drawer fronts are durable and one of the most amazing parts is that it can also be used as the countertop which creates, in this case, an island that is a solid volume within the space. The material is then used again on the wall and allows the natural wood veneer to contrast with such elegance.  

    Thick marble countertop laquer island and smoked oak tabletop

    Porcelanosa did a great job of combing materials to create a sculptural look that breaks up the length of the island. It's a genius selection of marble countertops, white laquer cabinetry, and a smoky oak wood veneer table that is combined with impeccable detail.  

    Natural Stone Countertop with Rough Edges with Steel Cabinetry

    Another one of my all time favorites was the use of corten steel on cabinet drawer fronts. This application is such a great alternative to your standard stainless drawers and you don't have to worry about fingerprints! It mixes great with a sleek clean edge of natural stone or like as it was displayed at this booth. The thick raw edge of the natural stone is an incredible look.

    Image Source: Annie May

  • Minimalism Al Fresco

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    Modern Outdoor Fireplace

    On the surface, minimalism and the great outdoors don't seem to have much in common. However, upon closer examination, minimalist design's unapologetic shedding of extraneous elements closely echoes the process of natural selection - a process whereby plants and animals that have survived through the ages have done so by casting off all traits deemed unnecessary for survival. A clean focus on the essentials.  

    It's only fitting then that when cooking and eating in nature, one does so with a minimalist flair.

    minimalist outdoor decor

    Dining al fresco is an opportunity to return to basics. Simple ingredients are the key, be they what's on the table or the table itself. The Itauba table (pictured below) is an all-in-one outdoor kitchen solution. An unlikely design from outdoor gear manufacturer Snowpeak, this Japanese-inspired table features a stove and grill in the center. The camp lanterns are optional of course.

    contemporary outdoor kitchen

    In fact, there's much more to outdoor lighting than camp lanterns. The al fresco kitchen should invite starlight in and keep light pollution out. For that purpose, dark sky lighting provides light where it's needed (for pathways, stairs and such) without destroying the natural ambience.

    Outdoor Lighting

    Hinkley Atlantis Bronze High Dark Sky Outdoor Wall Light (left), Vertical Dark Sky High Outdoor Wall Light (right)

    Fire can be central to the outdoor experience. Heat source. Light source. Marshmallow roaster. New Zealand based Escea makes a stunning line of modernist outdoor fireplaces.  

    contemporary outdoor fireplace

    Sleek, stark modernist lines are seemingly incongruous with nature, yet anyone who has seen Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater or John Lautner's Desert Hot Springs Motel (recently renovated by interior designer Tracy Beckmann) will speak of the sublime attention to the land that both of these monuments exhibit. The open-air folly pictured below, by New Zealand based Herbst Architects, is constructed mostly of natural materials to provide a minimalist respite that blends into the surroundings yet keeps the rain out. It includes a simple kitchen and dining table.  

    contemporary folly design

    Less is more. Such has been the modernist doctrine for nearly a century now and such has been the doctrine of nature for eons, proof that good design never goes out of style.  

    Images: The Outdoor Stylist, MoCo Loco, Urban Gardens, Escea, Architechnophilia

  • Mixing Fun Materials For A Modern Kitchen Design

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    Modern kitchen design with plywood

    The kitchen is no longer the most basic and purely functional room of the house. Through the use of fun, new materials and combining lots of different textures, the kitchen is quickly becoming the statement room of the house!

    The kitchen above mixes simple materials to create its unique look. The clean white countertop paired with the raw plywood and simple glass storage are a perfect combination! Like these cute glass mason jars, be sure to make the home decor selections just as important as the larger furniture and built-ins choices.

    Modern kitchen design with concrete

    The kitchen above is more bold in its design aesthetic. Concrete surfaces are a trendy alternative to the typical tile or granite options.

    Modern kitchen design with brass

    Talk about making a statement.... this kitchen veers away from the typical stainless steel look for a handsome brassy alternative. Paired with the pale concrete floors and gray brick walls, this kitchen is a show stopper! The oversized modern pendants give the space its shiny element, while the spotted countertop gives it a nice contrast.

    Hopefully we've given you some fun ideas for a modern kitchen. Don't be shy to mix and match materials as long as you have a cohesive design goal in mind.

    Images: Augenpralinen, Style Files, Sold Frog

  • Manhattan Modern Condo - Design Eye Candy

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    Modern NYC interior

    We're loving the clean and simple color palette of this Manhattan modern condo. The home decor  and modern furniture create a stylish living room that's sure to impress. Head on over to The New York Times for the full article "Escaping to the City's Bustle" where you'll find lots more images!

    Want to incorporate this color scheme into your home? Check out our Pinterest page where we have a whole board dedicated to yellow and gray! We're always adding more ideas so keep checking back...

    Image: New York Times

  • Get the Look: Modern Kitchen Pendant Lighting

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    Modern kitchen lighting and black pendants

    Designing your kitchen, like any room of the home, is fun because you're creating your own personal environment. However, the most fun element of the kitchen design is the lighting because it's like the jewelery to a great outfit. It's the beautiful accessory to this functional space. To keep the space modern, pendant lighting is the way to go.

    There's many different types of modern pendants that will help you achieve a great look for your stylish space. The kitchen above uses a really fun mix of materials to balance out the wood and brick, the bold black drum shade pendants make a great addition. Also, a bold stripe could look amazing in this space.

    Modern pendant lighting

    Mini Mullberry Black Tech Pendant Light

    Modern pendant lighting

    Bold Black Stripe Pendant Light

    This kitchen below is much different than the first one. Here, the lighting is understated but stylistically just as effective. The barely-there glass pendants give the kitchen a whimsical yet modern feel while keeping it open and fresh.

    Modern kitchen lighting and glass pendants

    Modern pendant lighting and Clear Satin Nickel Pendant

    LBL Isla Clear Satin Nickel Pendant

    Modern pendant lighting and Clear Glass PendantJaime Young St. Charles Clear Glass Pendant

    You also have the option of allowing your lighting to become a statement piece, making it more art than a light fixture. This type of pendant is always fun to shop for since your goal should be to find the one with the most personality.

    Modern kitchen lighting and white kitchen

    Modern pendant lighting and White Flower Pendant Light

    Possini Euro Design White Flower Pendant Light

    Modern pendant lighting and White Cloud Pendant Light

    Possini White Cloud Pendant Light

    Have fun selecting your kitchen lighting while keeping function, scale and style in mind. You're sure to create the look you want for your modern kitchen with any number of different pendant lighting styles out there.

    Images: Plastolux, Cococozy, SF Gate

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