Johnson: I believe a family’s personal space should reflect who they are and provide them with beauty, light and tranquility. Texture, color and interesting design enhance emotional, spiritual and physical health. I encourage my clients not to be afraid of mixing many different materials or of using color — a $40 gallon of paint is the least expensive and most dramatic tool for aesthetic impact and mood.
Lighting is as important as color. You can use chicken crates for furniture if you have great lighting, I always say, because lighting and color shape the atmosphere. I like great styles, high outputs and correct color temperatures — all on dimmers. Indirect lighting in soffits and recessed toe spaces below cantilevered bars or vanity cabinets can be simple and dramatic.
My award-winning kitchen design for a home on the Texas Gulf Coast was inspired by the surrounding golf course, brown scrub pastures, gnarly live oak trees and the home’s modern, graceful, curved wood ceilings.
The clients wanted a large kitchen for serious cooking and a big bar for entertaining golf buddies and ranch hands, and a large living area with a central fireplace — all without blocking any views of windows. Contrasts in texture and color are provided by the oak cabinets with soffit lighting and smooth stainless steel islands with toe space lighting. Colorful terrazzo counters mix with the wood bake center and small dining island. The large, curving, raised-glass bar with LED lighting provides more contrast and texture. Cable pendants and back-lit upper cabinet glass door inserts provide pops of gold and orange.
A Wendy Johnson kitchen for a Texas Gulf Coast home features multiple layers of lighting. Photo by Dennis Martin.
Also designed by Johnson, a 1800s-built Vermont home’s kitchen features undercabinet lighting and small pendants. Photo by Eric Roth.