crafting a timeless, stylish kitchen

The heart of the home, the starting point for our days and the space we inevitably gather; the emotional reach a kitchen has often extends beyond its counters and cabinets. Ultimately, it is the space in which we prepare food; but as utilitarian as its purpose may be, a kitchen can — and should — pose an opportunity for creative expression.

Meet the team at Harlan Jasper, a Denver-based custom kitchen cabinetry and design studio headed by trio Elliot Grayden, Kelly Reed and Barrett Hamilton. Focusing on kitchen design as a creative outlet for the home space, the team at Harlan Jasper discusses how homeowners can create a coveted kitchen sanctuary that’s both functional and beautiful.

more than just food prep

Creating a beautiful kitchen space starts by understanding that function and form can exist in a utilitarian space. Throughout history, the kitchen has evolved from its puritan roots as a food preparation space separate from the rest of the house to acting as the heart of the home.

“Being in the kitchen should be something to look forward to,” says the team at Harlan Jasper. “Regardless of the intention, almost every at-home gathering ends up congregating at a kitchen island or peninsula.”

By recognizing the kitchen as both an area for the intimacy of food preparation and a space worthy of creative design, homeowners can begin crafting a kitchen that suits their lifestyle and aesthetic aspirations.

get started

Unlike other areas of the home, it is important to consistently call upon the utility of the space when planning the design of a “dream” kitchen. To begin crafting a stylish, yet functional kitchen, the team at Harlan Jasper suggests working backwards from your lifestyle. “As a homeowner, it’s often much easier to talk about your lifestyle and your functional needs than it is to talk about design ideas. There’s so much inspiration out there that the design piece of it can be really overwhelming.”

Additionally, the team at Harlan Jasper warns about becoming caught up in the finish and texture options, as it may lead to a space that is unspecific to homeowners’ needs. Says Kelly Reed, “Inspiration follows when you design a space around how you like to live and work in the kitchen.”

The team at Harlan Jasper encourages homeowners to think through some of the following scenarios to gain a better understanding of a kitchen’s function:

If you are a baker // Will you need space for bulk flour bins? A kitchen island dedicated to rolling and twisting dough? Two ovens?

If you enjoy making artisanal cocktails // Will large parties call for an upscale ice machine? A year-round herb garden for garnishes?

If you are an experimental cook // Will your current cabinets be able to house additional cooking instruments? More pantry staples?

If the only things you “make” are dinner reservations // Do you need a high-top kitchen island to make conversation? A wine cooler for an easily accessible post-evening nightcap?

Once a thorough understanding of how the space will be used is achieved, homeowners can then begin planning the look and atmosphere of the kitchen.

combining timelessness with style

Designing a kitchen space that will withstand the test of time is tricky but can be achieved by understanding why many trends fall off the radar. According to the team at Harlan Jasper, “Certain styles fail to hold up because they don’t offer the functionality we crave in modern kitchens. Anything that’s too trendy is always going to be tied to an era — think of the ‘melamine everything’ trend of the 1970’s.”

It is also vital that a design feels grounded as well as stylish. Luckily, “Contemporary kitchen design is pivoting away from ubermodernity,” says the team at Harlan Jasper. “We are excited to see a surge of classical influences in color, pattern and texture — think chipped stones, white oaks, creamy Venetian plaster and Afghani rugs.”

If the search for design inspiration feels like stepping out of a comfort zone, start by switching up the classics in new and exciting ways. “Think whitewashed walnut, or a fresh and cheeky take on wallpaper,” says the team at Harlan Jasper.

Read about how Batya Stepelman, owner of WallTawk, creates inspired, ornate spaces with the simplicity of wallpaper. 

Another method is to think of an adored piece of art or keepsake. “It’s much easier to take inspiration from pieces you’ll always have and cherish.” Besides finding inspiration in pieces and spaces you know, the team at Harlan Jasper also suggests looking beyond traditional kitchen spaces.

“From amazing color combinations at a spice market in Vietnam to the Japanese reception room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, travel is where we find most of our inspiration,” says Kelly Reed. “It’s important to be open to non-traditional inspiration, too — of course we love to look at beautifully designed interiors, but sometimes the most unexpected input can lead to the most interesting results.”

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