Uncommon Kitchens: A Book Review

Anyone who knows me knows that I have two interests: interior design and books. So, when we were signing up for events at What’s New and What’s Next 2023 at the New York Design Center, the Benjamin Moore Book Club was at the top of my list. The first 30 guests were given the choice of one of three books: Uncommon Kitchens by Sophie Donelson,  Defining Chic: Carrier and Company Interiors by Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller, and AfroChic: Celebrating the Legacy of the Black Family Home by Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason. I chose Uncommon Kitchens because I love the idea of an unconventional kitchen.

What’s New and What’s Next 2023 at the New York Design Center, the Benjamin Moore Book Club

After sitting in on the discussion, I really wished I could have gotten all three books. The authors were fascinating, particularly the authors of AfroChic because of how they approached the book and black family homes from both a design and sociological perspective. I was also completely charmed by Sophie Donelson, the author of Uncommon Kitchens. I could have listened to her talk about the process of creating the book all day.

Now, on with the review. I love it (big surprise). The book is broken up into 4 sections:

Wow, They Really Went For It: This section highlights kitchens with bold designs and daring color choices.

It’s a Room First and a Kitchen Second: This section explores the idea of applying design techniques and furniture often used for other spaces but not for kitchens. I will say this is my favorite section.

Leave Space for Change (It’s the Only Constant): This section discusses the need to allow our kitchens to be flexible and allow adjacent spaces to support the kitchen with storage and prep spaces.

Forget the Gut Reno… Do This Instead: This section is a breath of fresh air for those of us who cringe every time a kitchen is completely gutted in favor of the newest trend. It’s also a great section for apartment dwellers and homeowners on a budget.

I will admit that I buy design books for the pretty pictures and not the text, and Uncommon Kitchens has plenty of gorgeous kitchen photos. But the copy is so well done I keep stopping to read it. Every chapter features lessons from a design professional. For example, photographer Christine Flynn advises us to “Forget Traditional Kitchen Colors,” which is great advice. Another designer tells us to “Let go of SOME dreams,” and yes, this is great advice because not all wants can be accomplished in the same design.

Then there are the stories of the beautiful kitchens featured in the photos. In chapter 10, Sophie tells us about a beautiful historic Victorian in upstate New York with an unfortunate builder basic kitchen from the 80s. Then she goes on to describe how the designer and homeowner created a new kitchen that feels like it was there all along and then shows us with the photos. Oh, the photos! They are magnificent because the kitchen is gorgeous, there are 4 pages of every beautiful detail with captions and quotes. Love!!

So, yes, I loved it. I recommend it for anyone who loves kitchens and homes. You can buy it here or see if they have it in your local library. Or if you know me, ask to borrow my copy, but promise you will bring it back.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and I may receive a commission if you purchase through them.


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