Good design with classic elements

Contrast in home design, such as vintage with modern or traditional with contemporary, brings a timeless look that works well with most styles

Special to The TribuneMarch 27, 2013 

  • INTERIOR DESIGN TIPS FROM JAN KEPLER

    WAYS WITH WOOD Cabinet finishes that don’t mask the beauty of the wood grain are popular now. For Kepler, that means medium-tone stains. A very subtle dark glaze highlights details in cabinetry. Finally, a low-sheen finish offers a hand-rubbed look and doesn’t detract from the beauty of the wood. High sheens are more contemporary and can sometimes look “plastic.”

    NEW FAUX FLOORS For the look of wood without the maintenance, take a look at porcelain plank flooring, which are porcelain tiles made to look like wood planks. You can vary the lengths and widths for an interesting presentation that is surprisingly convincing. The planks come in a variety of colors and textures, including a hand-grooved look.

    A CABINET CLASSIC Shaker-style cabinetry has been a classic since the late 18th century and is a style chameleon. It fits in a contemporary home as well as a country home and will never likely go out of style.

    CREATE A COMBO Combining stained and painted cabinets is a popular trend. If you do it, Kepler recommends painting upper cabinets and staining base cabinets. Base cabinets take more of a beating than wall cabinets and stained finishes are more forgiving.

This monthly feature focuses on local interior designers and their ideas for choosing color schemes, furniture, art and an overall design style or scheme. Today we focus on Jan Kepler, who has specialized in kitchen and bath design for more than 10 years in San Luis Obispo County. She provides interior design services and custom cabinetry for both remodels and new homes. She recently moved her business to a larger 800-square-foot space adjoining Pacific Coast Kitchen & Bath in San Luis Obispo.

Jan Kepler realizes it is easy to go overboard with design fads and trends.

“I try to guide my clients toward more timeless design along with the latest technology to improve the functionality of their kitchens,” she said.

Kepler’s style tempers up-to-date design with a solid foundation of classic elements. Here are the kitchen trends she’s currently eyeing, along with the best ways to bring them home.

Rustic elegance

Rustic elegance is a design style Kepler sees a lot of in San Luis Obispo County.

“We have so many wineries and we are a rural area, so people tend to want to do things that fit in with the landscape,” she explained.

Rustic can easily veer toward shabby, however. Rustic elegance avoids this by bringing in refined details. It’s a controlled version of eclectic, pairing distinct contrasts like vintage with modern, or high tech with warm and tactile.

Rustic does not equal country, however.

“You’re not going to find red plaid tablecloths and ceramic roosters,” Kepler said.

Instead, rustic elements include salvaged materials, artisan-made pieces or warm, earthy materials.

She has used distressed, rustic cabinets and paired them with mid-century modern chairs. In another kitchen, Old World details such as copper accents and cherry cabinetry combine with contemporary elements such as a quartzite mosaic tile backsplash, concrete countertops and blown glass light fixtures. It’s a fun time to be in design,” said Kepler. “You can do things that are a little more edgy.”

Transitional style

Transitional style bridges two worlds of design, ideal for those who like the warmth and elegance of traditional décor along with clean contemporary lines and modern conveniences.

On a kitchen she designed with Anne Fortini in 2008, there were cleanlined traditional elements such as Shaker cabinetry, warm Calcatta gold marble countertops, and a white ceramic subway tile backsplash inset with a Delft tile mural from Holland.

Then there were more overtly contemporary elements. To contrast with the light-toned marble, they covered the prep island in raven-hued Caesarstone engineered quartz. They also used a contemporary stainless steel Zephyr Trapeze hood designed by Fu-Tung Cheng, as well as modern appliances by Zephyr and Sub-Zero.

The style allowed the homeowners to have a contemporary kitchen with hardworking, professionalgrade appliances without clashing with the style of the rest of the home, which has the look of an East Coast beach house.

Most importantly, both transitional and rustic elegant styles are timeless looks that won’t seem dated anytime soon, and can be adapted to fit the architecture and style of almost any home.

New neutrals

Before painting your entire kitchen that trendy shade of turquoise, consider that Kepler has always been a fan of neutrals.

“I tend to like neutrals because they have character, depth and dimension but don’t overpower a room,” she said. “What they bring to your home is an interesting, elegant and often subtle backdrop for beautiful views, striking art work, rich wood work, and colorful accessories.”

Gray is unquestionably the hottest neutral these days, and Kepler has been using it for years.

“It combines well with red, white or black. Warm grays look great with woods, even cherry. A cool gray is beautiful with whites, such as marble countertops that are so popular now,” she said.

Grays aren’t just for kitchen walls. Kepler uses gray stains on floors or cabinets. Some appliances now come in a gray finish, which is a toned-down alternative to stainless steel.

White is still a classic kitchen color and a clean canvas to layer with accent hues. Kepler advises to look at the undertone, such as yellow or gray, to see which type of white goes best with your cabinets and other materials.

Many people ask Kepler what her favorite wall color is. While she uses many, one of the most versatile in her repertoire is Benjamin Moore’s cedar key, a warm gray reminiscent of driftwood.

“It’s soft and pretty and doesn’t make a big statement, plus it works well with walnut, oak and maple,” she said.

Reach Rebecca Juretic at rajuretic@sbcglobal.net .

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