8 Kitchen Design Ideas to Make Your Home Special

Elissa Morgante, AIA

Elissa Morgante, AIA
Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson

May 3, 2021 - 5 min read

8 Kitchen Design Ideas to Make Your Home Special

Few rooms capture our clients’ imaginations like kitchens. They’re the heart of every home – and at the heart of every homeowner’s dreams. They’re the room where families gather, guests are entertained, homework is handled, and oh yes, meals are prepared and eaten. At Morgante Wilson, we love thinking about kitchens as much as our residential clients do. Here are some of our favorite kitchen designs ideas and what makes them special:

1. White, with personality

A white kitchen tops many of our clients’ wish lists. And for good reason. White kitchens are timeless, and work well with a variety of home design styles. The key is to design a white kitchen with some personality, so it doesn’t look like everyone else’s white kitchen. This is when materials really come in to play. For example, if a vintage look is what you’re after, we advise you go for it, no holds barred. Use that white subway tile, but take it all the way up to the ceiling and make a statement with it. Choose an island design that makes your kitchen feel like an old English scullery. And though using all painted white cabinets would certainly be an appropriate choice, it’s far more interesting to treat one section as though it’s a piece of antique furniture. Paint it a different color than the rest of your cabinets and that’ll help ensure your kitchen is unique to you.

2. Textured and cozy

This kitchen is a favorite for so many reasons, but especially because of its ceiling – and its cozy, nostalgic vibe. We love the way the ceiling is clad in exposed brick, with beams that emphasize both its unusual material and the fact the bricks are laid in a chevron pattern. The brick and beams together give a warm feeling of having stepped back in time. The cooking niche – like an old-fashioned walk-up fireplace – furthers that feeling even more. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have coffee here in the morning?

3. Materials mix

This is a truly unique kitchen that was an adventure to design. The mix of materials, and the way they blend together so beautifully, makes it super special. This kitchen is in a mountain retreat, and so keeping a natural – but interesting – aesthetic was of prime importance. There’s the reclaimed wood wall above the forged metal range hood. The upper cabinets obscured by textured glass. The patterned, textured backsplash tiles. The heavily patterned stone on top of the island. Wood on the base cabinets, the island, and the unit that hides the refrigerator, the freezer drawers, and even a television. More metal at the island, and different wood altogether on the floor. It’s like a visual feast of material, and we could not love it more!

4. Unique island

Here’s a whole different take on unique ways to use materials – in this case, walnut and quartzite. This vintage penthouse kitchen needed a high-style island that would complement the rest of the unit’s fine furnishings and overall level of sophistication. And so we designed an island that feels more like a custom piece of furniture than anything else. Its shape is unique, and so is the craftsmanship it displays. If you were to take away its countertop and sink, you can almost envision this island as a very stately desk in a very important person’s office.


5. Like white, but not

There are a number of important lessons to share here. First, notice how a lack of upper cabinets immediately creates an airy feel. The window behind the range, and the open shelves, help contribute to that feeling. And though the kitchen feels as light and bright as a white kitchen would thanks to large expanses of white stone countertops and walls, the cabinets (and the wall-mounted shelves) are actually painted gray. It’s a clean, fresh look – but it’s not actually a white kitchen.

6. Bespoke and colorful

Even though I’m familiar with every inch of this completely custom kitchen, it never fails to wow me. The client wanted something that reminded them of their favorite restaurant, and we obliged – from the padded red leather kitchen door studded with brass nail heads, to the tufted banquette that echoes the one at their favorite restaurant table. The patterned tile ceilings in the dining and work area, (notice a theme here?), the custom pillows on the banquette, and the colorful, living room-worthy rugs on the floor are all next-level interior design moves not commonly associated with kitchens. It isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s a perfect example of what a truly customized kitchen can look like.

7. Defined seating

Here’s another take on a defined seating area – this time, in an 1800s house that got a fairly contemporary facelift. Again we have a leather banquette, only this time it’s channel-tufted and climbs the wall all the way up to a custom wood canopy that calls visual attention to the dining area, separating it in almost architectural fashion from the rest of the kitchen. It’s not something you see every day, but it could not be a more ideal complement to this particular kitchen, in this particular house. And that’s what architect-designed spaces should be all about.

Pretty pattern

This remodeled kitchen is in an architecturally significant older home. But that didn’t mean it wanted to be serious or stuffy. In fact, the goal with this design was to create a fun, happy kitchen as vibrant as the active family that inhabits it. So while we kept the envelope fairly traditional – hardwood floors and painted white cabinets – we took a more playful turn with zippy backsplash tile that immediately communicates the homeowners’ style. Sometimes it only takes one bold gesture to say it all – and this is one of those times.

Of course, we’ve been designing kitchens for more than thirty years, and have plenty of others to share. Visit our website or follow us on facebook and Instagram for more great kitchen design ideas.

Morgante Wilson Architects provides architectural and interior design services in Chicago, Deerfield, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Northfield, Ravinia, Wilmette and Winnetka – along with Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Elissa Morgante, AIA

Elissa Morgante, AIA

Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson