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By Alice Lesch Kelly | video by Sam Crimmins
When homeowners meet with Boston architect Nima Yadollahpour to conceptualize their new kitchens, they know he won’t offer them the same-old cookie-cutter designs found in every other home in the neighborhood.
Yadollahpour’s clients choose to work with him because they know he brings a fresh, out-of-the-box mindset to every project. He’s up on all the latest styles, but he doesn’t chase trends for the sake of being trendy. And when he incorporates classic approaches into his designs, he imbues them with timeless originality and a contemporary twist.
With every kitchen project, Yadollahpour strives to dazzle his clients with unique designs that are elegant and smart. It’s not an easy needle to thread. But Yadollahpour, owner of ONY Architecture in Boston, has been doing it for years. He knows that by keeping a few important guidelines in mind, he can create kitchen designs that fuse insightful functionality with distinguished aesthetics, whether the kitchen is in a Back Bay condo, a downtown loft, or a South Shore beach house.
If you’re looking for ways to move out of the box with your kitchen design, let Yadollahpour’s guidelines lead you to the kitchen of your dreams.
Guideline 1: Question conventional wisdom
Certain conventions have guided kitchen design for generations. For example, the kitchen work-triangle principle dictates that sink, cooktop, and refrigerator be placed in a specific triangular proximity to each other. Is the work-triangle principle a good idea in most kitchens? Yes. Should you be a slave to this design convention and others like it? Absolutely not.
“It’s a concept that people are used to, but every project has a specific set of requirements and limits that should drive the layout of the kitchen,” Yadollahpour says. “It may not work with a lot of condos or lofts in the city, and it may not work in a home where two people cook together. There are so many other layers of information that go into the kitchen layout.”
Instead of blindly following conventional wisdom, Yadollahpour looks closely at the space and appliance placement that works for the room. “The best design is the one that makes sense for that kitchen and the people who use it,” he says.
Guideline 2: Go for timeless, not trendy
Although Yadollahpour’s designs tend to reflect a modern aesthetic, he resists taking an ultramodern approach. Instead, he combines various styles with an eye on elegance and longevity. “At the end of the day I want to create designs that are timeless,” he says.
One of his favorite strategies is using painted shaker-style cabinetry with simple, single-panel doors. “It’s so minimal that it’s modern,” he says. “Clients don’t want kitchen cabinets that will look dated in three years.”
Guideline 3: Reimagine the kitchen island
Kitchens are the heart of most homes, and the island tends to be the heart of the kitchen, the place where everyone in the family goes to cook, eat, and socialize. Although Yadollahpour absolutely recommends a kitchen island if you have space for it, he also suggests thinking beyond standard island design and considering a look that serves as an eye-catching focal point of the kitchen.
“I like different approaches to the island, such as a waterfall countertop that folds over the edge of the island and looks almost like a draped tablecloth,” Yadollahpour says. He also likes custom-made islands made by high-end furniture makers, because these islands look more like a stunning piece of furniture than a hunk of cabinets. Using a wood counter as the island can also give it warmer, more furniture-like quality.
Guideline 4: Use counter-depth refrigerators
Yadollahpour likes counter-depth refrigerators better than traditional-depth styles, especially in compact urban kitchens.
“It’s better to have the refrigerator in line with your base cabinets so you don’t have a massive object protruding into your kitchen footprint,” he says. “It looks better, and it makes more sense for food storage, because then you don’t always have jars getting lost in the back of a deep refrigerator.”
Guideline 5: Look beyond standard appliances
These days, having a jumbo refrigerator and a standard bend-and-load dishwasher is de rigueur in most upscale kitchens. But in many cases—especially in smaller urban kitchens—you can significantly boost functionality by choosing appliances whose innovative dimensions offer groundbreaking flexibility.
New Zealand appliance manufacturer Fisher & Paykel leads the market in creating appliances with new dimensions. The Fisher & Paykel Integrated Column Refrigerator (24 or 30 inches wide) and Integrated Column Freezer (18, 24, or 30 inches wide) fit well into compact kitchens. And with the option of customizable door finishes, handle styles, and white or stainless interiors, they align with any kitchen design.
Yadollahpour recently used a column-style refrigerator in a South End condo for clients who had no use—or space—for a hulking refrigerator. “They take a very European approach to food preparation,” Yadollahpour says. “They walk to work, and every day or two on the way home they stop at the market or go to the farmer’s market in Copley Square to pick up fresh vegetables. They found the column-style refrigerator to be the perfect solution for their kitchen layout and their lifestyle.”
Drawer-style appliances offer additional flexibility. The Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer Dishwasher, which slides in and out for easy loading, fits into spaces where standard dishwashers may not, such as galley kitchens. “Using one or two drawer dishwashers makes things a little easier because then you don’t need all that square footage for the dishwasher door to be able to opened,” Yadollahpour says.
That space-saving drawer-style design also provides an alternative way to keep food cold. The Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer is a multi-temperature drawer-based refrigerator that can be placed anywhere in the kitchen—or elsewhere in the house, such as a butler’s pantry, bar, or great room.
Guideline 6: Strive for simplicity
When you’re designing a kitchen, it’s easy to go overboard with ornamentation. But Yadollahpour constantly reminds his clients—and his customers—that the most innovative, stylish designs are usually also the simplest.
“The more bells and whistles you have, the more distraction you have, and the more likely you are to lose the aesthetic coherence that you’re looking for,” he says. “For example, you don’t need ornamental tile behind your stove. Go with something like a simple subway tile—it’s a timeless, classy look. Even though it’s from decades ago it looks modern. You just can’t go wrong with simple design.”
To learn more about Fisher & Paykel appliances, click here. Visit Nima Yadollahpour’s site to see he full scope of his work.
Sponsored by Fisher & Paykel
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