Luxury Kitchen Design Decoded: An Expert’s Golden Tips

In the picturesque city of St. Augustine, Florida, where history and charm converge, there exists a treasure trove of kitchen opulence. This treasure is not a hidden gem but rather a star that shines brightly in the world of luxury kitchen design. With over 15 years of experience and a degree in interior architecture, April O’Brien and her firm, Interiors by Studio A, are responsible for the creation of countless awe-inspiring kitchens. We spoke with April to learn more about the essential elements required for creating truly luxurious kitchen spaces.

April O'Brien Interiors by Studio A
April O’Brien of Interiors by Studio A

Love Happens: What makes a kitchen truly luxurious in your view?

April O’Brien: In my perspective, what truly defines a luxurious kitchen is indeed a combination of factors: quality materials, thoughtful design, cutting-edge technology, all playing together in harmony. To me, it’s an orchestration of various elements, each one contributing to a symphony of style, convenience, and luxury.

The incorporation of smart home appliances, for instance, elevates a kitchen’s status immensely. I recall a kitchen renovation we did in Neptune Beach, where we brought in these state-of-the-art appliances, all in a stunning matte white finish with brushed gold handles—it was a visual delight.

High-quality materials like quartz countertops also play a huge part in conveying a sense of luxury. Because of this, they are a staple in many high-end kitchens I’ve designed. The touch faucets are another feature that’s becoming increasingly popular. There’s something about the ability to operate a faucet with a simple touch that speaks to luxury and convenience.

And, of course, the pot filler—a detail we’ve discussed before—is another design element that adds a touch of luxury. Then there’s the finishing touches, like gorgeous hardware from top brands like Top Knobs or Rejuvenation. These final additions can truly enhance a kitchen’s aesthetic.

Interiors by Studio A kitchen sink details

Lighting, too, plays a critical role. It’s not just about visibility—it’s also about mood and highlighting the kitchen’s best features.

However, what I believe makes a kitchen truly luxurious is how these elements work together, each complementing and enhancing the others. In today’s luxury kitchens, you will likely see expansive quartz countertops, spacious islands, high-end finishes, and smart appliances, from faucets to stoves and dishwashers. But more than the sum of its parts, it’s how these pieces come together that creates a
truly luxurious kitchen.

Lh: Are there any signature design elements or details your firm is known for incorporating in luxury kitchens?

April: Right now, the game changer in our luxury kitchen designs is pot fillers. And not just any pot fillers, but those that flaunt high-end finishes. They harmonize so well with the rest of the hardware and faucets in the kitchen, maintaining that seamless, cohesive look our clients adore.

Though we’ve done some beautiful work in traditional styles—think Victorian elements and ornate details—we’re noticing a definite shift. The trend now is all about sleek, modern lines. Less of the frilly details, more of the clean, straightforward elegance. It’s the contemporary aesthetic that’s really capturing our
clients’ interest.

And when it comes to colors, two shades consistently take center stage: matte black and aged brass. They’re not just popular; they’re the must-haves. Whether it’s for a faucet, a handle, or a fixture, these are the hues our clients are asking for. They bring in that sense of sophistication and luxury that’s always welcome in high-end kitchen design.

Lh: Could you walk us through one of your most successful luxury kitchen remodeling projects? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them to achieve the final design?

April: One project that sticks out in my memory involved a client who wished to remodel her kitchen but didn’t want to replace her existing cabinets. She wanted new countertops and a change in the kitchen’s footprint. She had a half wall serving as a peninsula with a bar top, and her cabinets were fitted around the room’s perimeter, even connecting to the peninsula. Her desire was to remove that half wall, which presented a unique challenge given the connection to the cabinets.

But the challenge didn’t end there. The half-wall she wanted to remove also connected to the cabinets. Once it was removed, we found ourselves left with a shortened cabinet where a lazy Susan had previously been. We had to think innovatively to solve this unexpected problem. So we decided to call in our cabinet maker, who expertly created an end cabinet that stored the microwave. To maintain consistency in design, the new cabinet door was made to match her existing style. Then, we painted the entire kitchen in a unified color, helping to seamlessly integrate the old with the new.

As for the island, we had to start from scratch with completely new cabinets. Merging her existing cabinet with the new ones in the island was indeed a challenge, but we were able to create a stunning freestanding structure where the peninsula once stood.

The flooring posed yet another hurdle. She wanted to keep her original floor, but the remodel had resulted in some areas being gouged out. Without new tiles to fill in, we had to come up with an alternative solution. So, we decided to lay LVP over her existing tiles. The end result was breathtakingly beautiful, offering a distressed wood look that added to the charm of the remodel. She was so happy with the look of the LVP she decided to use it throughout her entire home.

Lh: In your experience, what role do Interiors by Studio A clients usually play in the design process? How much do they influence the final design, and how do you ensure their vision aligns with your expertise?

April: Clients are crucial to the design process; they provide about 60% of the initial concept. They give us a solid starting point which we build upon. Before we dive into the actual design process, we conduct interactive assessments. This includes everything from creating Pinterest boards to having informal meet and greets to holding several planning meetings.

During these interactions, we dissect their vision, their desires for the space, and the feeling they want to evoke. We use these insights to shape the final product. Of course, we don’t simply present one option; we give them a variety to choose from. Once they’ve selected, we run with that style, integrating our expertise and knowledge into every detail.

The finishes and other elements usually fall under our discretion. The client might suggest a color they love, and then it’s up to us to interpret that into a style, into a direction that aligns with the luxury design they’re after.

Interiors by Studio A luxury kitchen design wood counters and cabinets

Lh: With sustainability becoming increasingly important, how does your firm incorporate eco-friendly practices and materials into your luxury kitchen remodels?

April: At Interiors by Studio A, we’re particularly fond of Cali Bamboo owing to its exceptional commitment to environmental sustainability. What sets them apart is their use of recycled materials in every single product they produce. This includes their entire line of flooring, making them a great partner to have in eco-friendly luxury design. But it’s not just their green practices that we’re enamored with. The durability and longevity of this bamboo is second to none. This is of paramount importance in our line of work, where every material we use needs to withstand the test of time.

Furthermore, our trade discount with Cali Bamboo enables us to provide even better value to clients of Interiors by Studio A, allowing us to deliver eco-conscious, luxury designs at a more accessible price point.

Lh: In what ways have designing kitchens for Interiors by Studio A clients in the South affected the design process?

April: In my experience, Southern kitchens often stand out due to their larger scale. They tend to favor an open design, where the kitchen and living space flow into each other. Because of this, the open concept is one of the defining features of a Southern kitchen. Imagine a massive island, cabinets reaching up to the ceiling, and interspersed glass cabinets—a distinct Southern style.

Luxury kitchen island with stools

But a Southern kitchen doesn’t have to be restricted to traditional designs. Even though my personal style is more eclectic and transitional, I find it quite enjoyable to modernize Southern-style kitchens based on each client’s preferences. There have been instances when I’ve encountered clients with a preference for very traditional, even antiquated aesthetics. The challenge, and also the thrill, lies in taking their core ideas and subtly tweaking them to incorporate a modern flair.

Lh: Where do you see the trends going for luxury kitchen design in the next few years?

April: As for the upcoming trends in luxury kitchen design, I envision several shifts in color and material preferences over the next few years.

I see a resurgence of platinum and chrome finishes, particularly in stainless steel applications, which seem to be making a comeback. While matte black will likely maintain its popularity as a solid, timeless choice, I predict the trend of gold accents gradually phasing out over the next couple of years.

Interiors by Studio A luxury kitchen design with marble counters

White cabinets, once the epitome of a contemporary kitchen, are slowly losing their prominence. Instead, we’re seeing a surge in the use of vivid colors in cabinetry, particularly jewel tones. Emerald green, sapphire blue, and ruby red are being embraced with open arms. Additionally, many clients are opting for two-tone cabinetry, bringing a unique aesthetic to their spaces.

A few years ago, pastel tones had their moment, but their popularity seems to be fading. Instead, we’re seeing a rise in slate hues—blues, grays, and greens. They’re charming, calming, and carry a sense of sophistication, exactly what you look for in luxury kitchen design.

The trend I’m particularly excited about is the growing preference for natural, unfinished white oak cabinetry. These cabinets, usually given just a light satin finish without any stain, provide a raw, sandy look that’s gaining traction in luxury kitchen designs. It’s about celebrating the natural beauty of the material, which adds both warmth and texture to the space.

To sum up, the upcoming trends seem to favor more daring color choices, an appreciation for natural finishes, and a shift in metallic accents. But as always, it’s about creating a space that truly speaks to the client’s personal style and needs.

All Photos Courtesy of Interiors by Studio A

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