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Why You Need a Dirty Kitchen and More Luxury Kitchen Design Lessons from Home on a Nashville Hill

For kitchen designer Sarah Robertson of Studio Dearborn, the definition of luxury kitchen design is one that perfectly mirrors your taste and the ways you use your kitchen. That’s why Robertson believes the kitchen she designed with Kelly and Suzie for their custom Home on a Nashville Hill, is her best luxury kitchen design project yet. Here are some of the lessons Robertson and her clients learned along the way:

Follow your heart in the kitchen, not the trends.

dark walnut kitchen bar
All photos by Adam Kane Macchia for Studio Dearborn

One of the biggest lessons Kelly learned while designing the house was to include design elements that she and Suzie really liked, instead of being influenced by what’s popular right now. “That way, no matter what the trends are, you have a home full of things YOU love,” Kelly says. For example, who knew that walnut and darker wood finishes would be a thing in 2022? They sure didn’t. But Kelly and Suzie chose dark walnut cabinets because they coordinated with the lighter wood floor.

Function matters more than aesthetics in the kitchen.

drawer with pots and lids

As beautiful as their kitchen is, Kelly and Suzie love that it’s designed for all the ways they use their kitchen. The spices are arranged alphabetically in an angled drawer that’s near the range, and just below the counter for easy access. They ever have to dig in the back of a cabinet for pots and lids. They’re all nested in their own drawer, and there’s a separate one with built-in dividers for lids. And the baking sheets are in a skinny space right next to the range. “It’s amazing how much fun cooking can be when you can get your hands on everything you need!” Kelly says. 

Check out even more storage solution ideas here.

Good design can make cleanup easier.

under the sink storage in a kitchen

Cleaning the kitchen isn’t fun or sexy, but it’s a part of maintaining any kitchen. Robertson made cleanup less of a drudge for Kelly and Suzie by optimizing all the functions.  She put paper towels in easy reach of the sink and the garbage, and added dish towel storage nearby. The kitchen sink is extra deep, so it accommodates a drying shelf and a dish drain, keeping clutter out of sight. And the garbage/recycling pullout is right under the sink, with a backup bin right next door so there’s no need to carry trash across the kitchen.

Every luxury kitchen design needs a dirty kitchen.

prep kitchen area

One way to keep your kitchen always looking company ready is by having a large private prep space. It’s sometimes called a scullery or prep pantry. We like calling it the dirty kitchen. Hidden behind a glass door with a steel frame, the dirty kitchen gets lots of light. There’s a long counter there that offers lots of space to work, and it’s a good place to hide dirty dishes during a dinner party, or when an unexpected guest arrives.  And it’s just as pretty as the rest of the kitchen. 

The kitchen is for the whole family.

pet watering station in kitchen

Most kitchens don’t have pet watering stations… yet. But when you have a gang of five cats and dogs, like Suzie and Kelly, it just makes sense. Plus the fur babies love to hang out in the kitchen just as much as their humans do. Watering and feeding the pets is easier thanks to a pullout cabinet that holds every flavor of Weruva cat food, plus a low feeding drawer to hold cat bowls. This was one of the chicest pet stations Robertson has designed, thanks to the brass faucet and herringbone tile backdrop.

If you love it, own it.

pullout freezer drawer in kitchen

When Robertson was talking to Suzie and Kelly about what they keep in their freezer, the answer was coffee and ice cream. So as she designed the coffee bar with a pullout freezer drawer, the designer added a second drawer just for ice cream. It’s full of their favorite Jeni’s Splendid ice cream flavors and it’s a place where the couple gets a little joy, whether it’s at the end of the day or the start. While affogato (ice cream drowned in coffee) is already on the menu, their newest discovery is brocchia, the Sicilian brioche ice cream sandwich that’s often eaten for breakfast. 

Stay true to your vision.

concrete pendant lights over kitchen island

Even before they knew how the rest of the kitchen would look, Kelly had fallen in love with the Visual Comfort Elliott concrete pendants from Circa Lighting. At 75 lbs each, they’re a lot heavier than a typical pendant light, and Kelly shared on Instagram that the builder didn’t feel comfortable installing them. He actually tried to get her to choose something else. But Kelly knew what she wanted, so they let the builder finish the ceiling. After they closed on the house, they had another contractor open the ceiling to add reinforcement so they could use the lights they wanted. Some things are worth the wait.

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