How to Design a Cool and Comfortable Kitchen, According to 2021 Real Simple Home Designer Delia Kenza

When you’re wining, dining, or just unwinding, your kitchen should support you through it all.

Photo: Design by Delia Kenza / Photography by Sean Litchfield

To design each area of the 2021 Real Simple Home, we paired an editor "client" with a designer to help determine the goals and challenges within the space. For the open concept kitchen, interior designer Delia Kenza and Real Simple's features director, Amy Maclin, joined forces to create a kitchen that's cool and modern, yet still cozy and functional for a family. Get ready for smudge-proof appliances, sleek fixtures, and some statement-making pendant lights.

Meet the Dream Team:

Designer Delia Kenza
Photo by Jessica Neste

Delia Kenza

Delia's designs feel unique and inviting, thanks to her talent for creating spaces that are practical but also thoroughly modern.

Amy Maclin Headshot
Amy Maclin

Amy Maclin

Amy and her husband (and their two cats) are used to cramped New York City apartments but crave space and light.

The Goal:

Amy wanted her kitchen design to be mostly modern minimalism—but with lots of personal accents. "That Goldielocks balance of no stuff and too much stuff," she says. She especially wanted seating around the island to entice her and her husband to stop having suppers on the sofa.

The Challenge:

The kitchen is open to the living and dining areas, so any design decisions here would affect the adjoining spaces. Plus, Amy likes things to look clean, but she didn't want to have to tidy up all the time.

The Design Plan:

Disguise the Disarray

Delia added fluted glass to the upper cabinets to give the feel of open shelving. "Because of the texture, you only see silhouettes of what's inside," she says. "So you can keep the contents of your cabinets a little messy."

Let There Be Light

Task lighting is imperative in a kitchen—particularly over the sink and stove. For the ultimate in practical luxury, Delia says, consider adding lighting inside drawers and cabinets as well.

Forget Fingerprints

It seems like just a sideways glance can cover stainless-steel appliances with smudges. That's why Delia recommended a refrigerator in a nontraditional finish, like graphite or black.

Shop the Inspiration:

White Plaster Pendant Light
Circa Lighting

The Right Light

A trio of modern pendant lights drew the eye up in the kitchen of the 2021 Real Simple Home. Natural rusted iron introduced timeless patina, while the white plaster shade provided contrast of both color and texture.

Cafe Appliances Fridge in Matte Black
Cafe Appliances

A Fingerprint-Proof Fridge

This counter-depth fridge created a streamlined look. The matte black finish is not only trendy and modern, but it also helps hide smudges and fingerprints.

Oak Cutting Boards
Hawkins New York

Pretty and Practical

Oak cutting boards in an organic shape offer a stylish surface for serving cheeses and appetizers—and when not in use, they add a natural element to prevent the black-and white-kitchen from feeling too sterile.

White ceramic dishware
Susie Cushner/Getty Images

Timeless Dishware

Classic white dinnerware will never go out of style. It also looks sleek whether stashed inside glass-front cabinets or placed front and center on open shelving.

Quartz Counter Swirled Design

Set in Stone

Quartz in a cloud-like swirled design turns a kitchen backsplash into a mesmerizing feature wall. Some added bonuses: The surface is scratch- and stain-resistant and won't fade in the sun.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles