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Interior design pro shares insights that can save money and increase function

by: GAIL PARK - New kitchen appliances may require more space, but designer Diane Keaton isn't shy about removing extra walls, eaves and old cabinetry to create extra room.Remodeling a kitchen is more than what meets the eye. The improvements can include high-efficiency appliances, money-saving windows and lighting and optimal functionality.

Beaverton interior designer Diane Keaton suggests that homeowners preparing to update their kitchen begin the process by shopping for appliances.

“There is a huge difference in styles and models. Also the huge price range helps determine the choice,” said Keaton, owner of Diane Keaton Interiors. “Settle on one that suits your needs. Pick out a specific model that you really like.”

New appliances may require more space. A larger kitchen can be attained in numerous ways and Keaton, who designed her custom-built home, isn’t shy when it comes to removing walls, eaves and old cabinetry.

Most older homes have outdated features that can be transformed into usable space. For example, refiguring the location of the refrigerator, stove, cabinets or sink can open up additional space for storage and workflow. Drop-ceiling room dividers can be removed. The space above and below cabinets can be tapped into for greater efficiency.

Clutter-free preferred

Keaton likes to run a cabinet or two right down to the countertop. She prefers a clutter-free kitchen. In her own kitchen, cookware, utensils and appliances are out-of-sight. Mindfully placed cabinets hide the wares and bring attention to her room’s openness, art, tilework and overall clean design. To maximize space, she created a flow in a room. Baking and coffee centers leave plenty of room for traffic flow. The room is ideal for entertaining.

Separate kitchen and dining areas are losing favor. Separating the chef from the rest of the family is an outdated concept. Open space brings family and friends closer together. The kitchen is the place to be.

To create the illusion that the kitchen is always tidy, Keaton designed a high bar around a portion of the kitchen’s perimeter. Dishes, pots and pans aren’t visible from the dining table. The bar is a favorite place for people to perch themselves to be right in the heart of the action — where the food smells the best and the chef may reveal a secret ingredient.

The remodel recipe

Based on the homeowner’s needs, wants and budget, the recipe for a delicious kitchen is conceptualized on paper.

“With really good planning, all of a room’s elements will pull together,” said the 25-year designer whose Old World kitchen has two sinks, a hidden refrigerator, island for food prep and country, French detail.

A theme or color scheme develops after the design concept is drawn up. “Some people don’t know what color they like,” Keaton said. “I suggest we go look in their closet. There we’ll learn what colors stand out (in the wardrobe).”

A kitchen remodel can use a favorite set of dishes, cherished painting, family heirloom or simple color to etch out a plan. A good starting point could begin with a fine collection of pottery. Each kitchen can be a beautiful place of luxury and comfort based on the individuality of its homeowner’s tastes.

Today “transitional” is a buzz word. Because many people have received artwork and furniture from their families, transitional kitchens are gaining popularity. Eclectic in nature, they include elements of both contemporary and traditional design. Showcase a collected historical appliance. Display a great stainless sink with a sleek stainless oven hood and stylish hardware.

Repeat stylish features

Shiny, modern oven hoods are replacing the cupboards that merely house a stovetop’s ventilation system. Classy slate flooring is trendy. Repeat special stylish features throughout a home. For example, the marble in an entryway can reappear as a backsplash.

Keaton’s appreciation for artistic swirls and curves is shown throughout her Bull Mountain home. Furniture, artwork, a staircase railing and even her apron accentuate the dainty black scrolls.

Tiny scroll feet adorn her kitchen table situated across from the bar. Cushy pillows with decorative checkers enhance the breakfast nook that extends into the backyard patio. Windows frame the cozy area, bringing in lots of light.

“It’s like a mini-greenhouse,” she said of the pushed-out eating area. “We can feel the sunlight and have a nice view of our yard. We can watch the birds outside the window.”

Whatever you want your kitchen to say, you can express it with the help of a designer. Reinvent the room’s ambience and freshen up its appeal.

“When I walk in a room and it doesn’t feel right, I can tell a designer wasn’t involved,” says the wife, mother and grandmother. “A good designer will enhance a room with good design.”

A room that starts as a knockout should remain beloved, but according to Keaton, a member of the Jenkins Estate Historical Facilities Advisory Committee, “Every seven to 10 years people’s tastes change.”

For more information, call Keaton at 503-848-8045.

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