Tips for Timeless Kitchen Design

by Don's Appliances

The question on most homeowner’s minds when they are about to undertake a kitchen remodel, according to kitchen designer John Whisler, is: How do they create a space that reflects who they are while selecting elements that will also withstand the test of time and offer a functional space?

“The goal is to be timeless,” says Whisler, designer and project manager for Hardwood Interiors, “Ten years down the road, it should not feel like the kitchen is out of date and the owners are going to have to think about remodeling, or they’ve grown tired of it.”

A neutral palette

What are tips to keep the look timeless? Whisler and his team look to neutrals and as a back drop when selecting cabinetry and countertops. That, he says, helps create a cohesive look for the space that will stand up as a reference point regardless of how the room is decorated after the renovation team has moved out.

For this kitchen the cabinets are made of maple, with a white finish on the perimeter and a custom walnut stain on the islands. Flat, rather than raised, panels give the kitchen more of a transitional rather than ornate look along with simple detail around the framing. 

The cabinets are topped with two-inch-thick Calacatta Laza quartz, which is reminiscent of a white marble with gray veining. This same material wraps up the walls as a backsplash for a classic look. The homeowners selected this particular pattern and color because it was complimentary to the chevron designs found in the kitchen, especially in the custom mirrored cabinet.

Choosing appliances

When it comes to the appliances, Whisler says that ten years down the road a stainless steel appliance is still going to look timeless. “When we sit down with the customer for a consultation, one of the first things we nail down is the appliances,” he says. “We want to understand their lifestyle and meet their everyday needs. We want the kitchen to be functional, not just beautiful--it’s not one size fits all.”

For this project, the homeowners knew a few things they wanted to incorporate into their kitchen. They are both dentists and wanted a Scotsman ice maker because of the chewable ice. They had one in a previous home and fell in love with it. They knew right off the bat they wanted to include one again.

They also wanted a second oven.  Harwood Interior’s team placed one in the island so that the family could have a dedicated area where they had plenty of workspace to enjoy baking and meal prep together.

Island life

“One of the challenges of this kitchen, when we were remodeling was the lack of wall space,” Whisler says. “The windows offer great natural light, but limit us for placing cabinets and appliances.”

Fortunately there was ample floor space, so the design team incorporated two islands to fit the family’s needs and create the desired aesthetic.  Whisler suggested a Sharp microwave drawer in the island. “They definitely love that feature,” he says. “It helps clear out the clutter on the countertop.” Clutter also is controlled via a hidden walk-through pantry in between the Sub-Zero fridge and the mirrored, chevron cabinet.

Worth the splurge

Another question Hardwood Interior’s team gets on a regular basis, is “What appliance should I splurge on.” Whisler says it depends on how you use your kitchen.  If you are going to be cooking on a regular basis, you may want to splurge on the range –whether you prefer gas, electric or induction. In this home, the customer preferred a gas cooktop.

“We told her about the Wolf 36-inch dual fuel range and how it has simmer function on all six burners. You don’t always get that, “Whisler says. “There are things you want to look at with each appliance."

In addition to their cooking surface, Whisler also tells his clients to pay attention to ventilation.

Whether they are using a stainless steel hood or a custom wood hood with an insert it’s critical that they are looking at the suction they are getting and that they are able to get rid of odors. Another important feature to pay closer attention to is the noise level the unit outputs – finding a quiet, but powerful hood unit is well worth the investment.

“One of the big complaints we hear is. ‘My smoke detector goes off when I cook,’” Whisler says. “Ventilation is an area that I tell people to really focus on.” In this kitchen Hardwood Interiors designed a custom hood that has a Best hood insert

Other questions the Hardwood Interiors team asks before they start any design work include: “Is this going to be your forever home? Do you plan on reselling down the road? Is there a chance you’re going to have to move?  Whisler says these answers really drive the design and the elements used and how that combination affects the return on investment.

“If we find they’re going to age in place here,” Whisler says, “It’s going to change how we lay out the appliances or what recommendations we make for cabinetry hardware and the walkways.”  These are a few examples, he says, but there are a lot of other elements that will definitely evolve based on that one question.

A few trendy touches

If you do want something trendy in your kitchen, Whisler suggests you do that with the lighting, paint, hardware or other countertop decor.  “Those pieces are easy to swap out when you want a change,” he says.

In this kitchen, the hardware is honey bronze color with standard and cup-style pulls. Picking up on those metal elements is a custom brass and glass shelving unit that makes a statement next to the refrigerator. As a nice contrast to the angles in the kitchen, spherical lighting was chosen which has the added benefit of adding a bit of an artistic touch to the space.    

Ready for the long haul

With careful choices when it comes to colors, surfaces, cabinets and appliances, the homeowners and designers have created a kitchen that will withstand the test of time and meet the needs of the family as it serves as the heart of their home for many, many years.


BI-36R/S Sub-Zero 36” Classic Refrigerator

DF366 Wolf 36” Dual Fuel Range

SMD2470ASY Sharp 24” Stainless Steel Microwave Drawer Oven

SCN60PA-ISU Scotsman Nugget Ice Machine

U-1224DWRS U-Line 24” Refrigerator Drawers

CSO30TM/S/TH Wolf 30” M Series Transitional Built-In Single Oven


Kitchen design and cabinetry: Hardwood Interiors, Inc. (DBA Hardwood Interiors & Design)

Countertop: Calacatta Laza quartz, 2 inches thick with an eased edge

Shelving unit: Palmer Industries

Cabinet hardware: Top Knobs

Appliances: Don’s Appliances