Designing an American-Style Kitchen for a European Client

November 19, 2020

Estonian designer Hiie Harm of Hiie Harm Design recently faced an unusual challenge: creating an American-style kitchen for a Northern European family of six. Most European kitchens, particularly in the Scandinavian region, are on the small side, with minimalist lines and little detailing. However, the mother in this family cooks often and uses several different small kitchen appliances, although her current space left little room for them.

“Her first wish to me was for the American-style kitchen with special details and not at all the plain and minimal look,” said Harm. “She definitely wanted traditional white cabinets and a black granite countertop, a coffee nook and a display area.”

Harm spoke with KBB about the different ways she incorporated an American-inspired look into this kitchen.

Bigger Cooking Appliances: As the client cooks a lot, she wanted double ovens and a big induction cooking top with a separate gas burner. In a European kitchen, there is typically only an induction hob with four burners. Harm not only installed double ovens but also a six-burner induction cooktop and a separate double gas burner.

More Workspace: Because of the location of the plumbing, the dishwasher and the kitchen sink could not be relocated. To create more workspace, the ovens were put in a tall cabinet and close to the windows. A narrow column of open shelving was placed next to the ovens to house items like cookbooks.

A Traditional Gathering Place: “My biggest problem was thinking out the size and shape of the island,” said Harm, explaining that she wanted to be able to seat four around the island without impeding the traffic flow.

The resulting layout features an extended counter on one end solely for seating. The rest of the island includes additional storage, as well as open shelves for display.

The Coffee Nook and Display Case: On one side of the kitchen, Harm installed white upper cabinets with glass inserts, both for creating a light and airy feel and to offer the client a place to display her glassware. Below this display area is a long countertop that can house small appliances, including the coffee maker.

Small Details: Unlike the sleek, streamlined designs Harm usually encounters in her practice, this client wanted ornate detailing in the kitchen. The designer subtly included this – in the form of white flower carvings – on the corners of the island and around the stove. The rest of the cabinetry is a traditional Shaker style.

“I love everything about this kitchen,” said Harm, who used Chief Architect to complete this project. “The final design is a wonderful example of American-style kitchen in our region.”

Photography: Hendrik Osula, https://www.hendrikosula.com/