On German Kitchens


It’s settled: we’re going German. For our new kitchen design, that is.

Having long been convinced that concrete is the material of the future, I’ve since coveted both polished concrete floors and counter tops. But, alas, polished concrete is not a common thing in England (read: no one who knows how to do it so it’s considered “specialist”, and is therefore overly expensive).

For such a utilitarian material, one would expect it to be affordable. And, come on, how hard can it possibly be to polish? I actually considered trying to do this myself–at least for the floors–but Jonathan thinks that’s a terrible idea. Can’t win them all.). But regional construction knowledge being what it is, it’s simply not an option for us in our new house.

I love the simplicity, functionality, and diversity of polished concrete. Those are also three common tenets with German design, punctuated by the unbelievably efficient use of every square-inch. Save for art, I don’t care for things in the house that are pretty and nothing else. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, I don’t want it. German kitchens are as pragmatic as they come, every minute design detail makes sense.

Coming from the US where the only things you see in kitchens are wood, wood, and more wood, I previously mis-associated the German kitchen with ugly, ultra-modern aesthetics that look more suited to a hotel room. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Apparently, there are only two German kitchen companies that currently sell in the US. I’m told that they both charge three times the actual cost of the kitchen, because there’s no competition, because the use of aggregates and other synthetics simply isn’t terribly popular in the US at the moment (WOOD!). Modern, smart, engineered kitchen materials (composites), designed for strength, longevity, and easy maintenance–I’m convinced–will ultimately start to catch on in the US, especially in urban areas like New York and San Francisco. They’re also optimal for making the most out of small spaces.

My dream would have been to have a kitchen that has a combination of polished concrete, white marble (love the look, but it’s too soft for kitchen counters), and bamboo, with rugged slate flooring (again, since I’ve been convinced that concrete is not an option here–whimper!). Regarding granite, I think it’s highly over-rated. Though, nowadays, there is a nice color/style selection. But it’s impossible to repair well if it gets damaged and is too heavy, making it not an ideal option for over-hanging bar tops. Composites are the future, baby!

The look I’m going for is as follows: organic, industrial (but not sharp, more like a cool loft-style), smart, functional, and comfortable. Materials offered by the German manufacturers may not be concrete, per se, but they mimic the feel.

I know some people are curious, so here’s a preview of a look that’s currently inspiring us: see counter tops and color scheme on pages 72-73 The pictures admittedly don’t do it justice, but the clay-color of the simple (non-wood) cabinetry and, most importantly, the gorgeously simple composite counter tops, bar, and backsplash (constructed so that there are no joints–no silicone necessary, it can be all one continuous piece!!!) hit all the marks.

Contemporary without being too modern. Organic and soft, yet in the loft-style grey-scale. It’s both current and timeless. Love. The next step is to see if we can actually afford such brilliant materials, but the color-scheme and textures, I’m afraid, I’m already hooked on.

I should add that the guy who’s likely to be our kitchen designer is the spitting image of Jesse Tyler Ferguson in both looks and mannerisms, which didn’t hurt to convince me that German is the only way to go–I’m already excited to spend more time with the guy.


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2 Responses to On German Kitchens

  1. Greg says:

    Lisa – do they ever use stainless steel for counter tops over there? i saw a kitchen island on “this old house” (our favorite show ever) with a stainless steel counter top in a scandinavian modern house. it was far more low key and warm than you’d think. i fell in love…

    • Lisa says:

      hey G! Hmmm, no, I haven’t seen stainless in a residential application but definitely like the thought of it (we thought about using stainless strips on the walls behind the counters instead of tiling or the colored glass, which is becoming more popular here); we’ve thought about trying to find some industrial stainless pendant lights to hang over the bar top, though. I have, however, seen zinc counter tops, which I LOVE (and recently forgot about, so perhaps I shall revisit this option…).

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