Kitchen Design Must-Haves

Four essential details you should add to your kitchen remodel right now.


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A newly remodeled kitchen in Mamaroneck provides proper flow for everyone and everything.

Sarah Robertson, founder and principal of Studio Dearborn, which specializes in kitchen design and fine cabinetry in Mamaroneck, has her finger on the pulse of what is happening in kitchen design. Here, she shares her must-have design ideas for every new kitchen based on some of her recent design projects.

Proper Flow

Robertson says that enough clearance is something not factored into a design as much as it should be, as shown above in a remodeled kitchen from Mamaroneck. “I think one of the most overlooked features in kitchen design is clearances,” she says. “For a kitchen to flow, it needs plenty of space for chefs, homeowners, kids, and dogs to get around each other in the kitchen.”


Breakfast Bar

“Clients are loving having a dedicated space for coffee, tea, cereal, toast, fruit – whatever makes up a healthy breakfast for them,” says Robertson. “I like to design them into a custom area with baskets and drawers to keep everything organized with plenty of space for small appliances.”

A dedicated breakfast bar or station is a cozy, inviting addition to any kitchen.

Unique Built-ins

Robertson says there are three unique features she always suggests for clients that they may not otherwise think about:

More recycling bins, as shown in this kitchen from Rye: “I’m always pushing for more recycling,” she says. “My own kitchen has four recycling receptacles, a compost, and trash. Recycling accumulates fast, and it helps if you aren’t dumping it out every hour!”


Paper towel holder, as shown in this Larchmont kitchen: “A built-in paper towel holder keeps paper towels within hand’s reach, but also integrates it into the design, so they are kept off the counter, saving space and offering a cleaner look.”


Drawer outlets, as seen here in this kitchen from Scarsdale: “At least one is good for gadget charging and to keep those pesky and unsightly cords and devices out of view.”


Open Shelving

Robertson suggests open shelving in place of wall cabinets, as shown here in a kitchen from Scarsdale. “I think the trend away from wall cabinets is a nice one, creating a more open, vibrant kitchen space, and I hope it’s here to stay,” says Robertson.


According to Robertson, wood cabinets are making a comeback in a big way. “Pale white oak (specifically rift sawn) is surging in popularity,” says Robertson, “but I think we will be seeing the return of cherry, walnut, and dark stained oak very soon.”

Robertson notes there is a shortage of white oak, so she has been turning her focus to ash, alder, and birch, as well. Robertson recommends mixing them with color-painted cabinets to deliver “a very different and fresh look.”


Jenn Andrlik is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in home design and architecture, and parenting. She is formerly the senior editor of Martha Stewart Living and executive editor of both Westchester Home and Westchester/Hudson Valley Weddings. She has worked for other titles, including House Beautiful and Parents. She has two children and lives with them, her husband, and beagle, Lucky, in East Norwalk, CT.