Aiming for a new kitchen


When David and Carol Asher were building their Sarasota home in the late 1990s, they agreed on contemporary styling throughout the house, including the kitchen. But they wanted a contemporary look that would not become dated over decades. They aimed for timeless contemporary. Lucky for them, David is a kitchen designer and the owner of Eurotech Cabinetry, a company he established in Sarasota in 1984, two years after the couple moved to Florida from Michigan.

Carol Asher wanted plenty of counter space for work space and for buffet space when she entertains. She has learned that her welcoming kitchen is the natural gathering place for family and guests. The counters are Black Absolute granite. David Asher said one of the most important aspects of getting the kitchen right was the lighting design.

"Our challenges with the kitchen were three young kids and pets," said David. "And Carol is a serious cook who loves to entertain. The kitchen not only had to have a timeless design but it needed to function efficiently and be durable. And, since we both love beautiful wood and we collect art, we knew the space had to be good-looking too."

They must have gotten it right. After the Ashers moved into their home in 1999, David submitted his family kitchen to the National Kitchen & Bath Association competition for 2001. The sleek Sarasota contemporary kitchen took nationwide second place honors, and that was during a time period when modern was not a popular choice for kitchen design.

"Creating a timeless contemporary look is about space planning, picking the right materials, being meticulous about details, avoiding color trends and finding beauty and drama in simplicity," said David. "And lighting," he continued, "because light changes everything — and a kitchen will never be truly successful until you get the lighting right."

Carol Asher, who is the bookkeeper for Eurotech, weighed in on what she wanted from a comfortable high-performing kitchen. During planning stages, she mandated two stoves with warming drawers, two microwave ovens, two sink areas and a lots of expansive counter space along with organized hidden storage. She also needed a separate area for preparing baked goods.

"I didn't want to see any of my cooking utensils, pots or pans but I wanted to have easy access to everything," she explained. "So we have two appliance garages, and I have pop-up areas that are under the counter. I open a door and pull up a workspace with my heavy mixer already on it ready to go. I also have two wide drawers with spices right next to where I cook. Every single drawer, cabinet and pantry shelf is made to store certain things like trays, cookie sheets, big bowls or specialty food products. I know exactly where everything is and I can tell you that makes cooking in this kitchen a joy."

The couple selected maple as their primary material for cabinetry and they added Absolute Black granite for the long counters. For accent cabinetry, the couple made a bold choice: black lacquer.

The maple is for warmth, the black is for sophistication and drama, said David. "The backsplash, which is Plexiglass that looks like stainless, bounces light around and plays off the black lacquer while providing a great backdrop for the stainless steel range hood. It's like an art installation."

To break up a bank of black lower cabinets the couple chose textured glass doors and open shelving to display art pottery.

"There's contrast and harmony in the materials, but there is no doubt that this is a modern kitchen," continued David. "Everything is crisp with sharp architectural lines and clean edges. Our cabinet pulls and drawer knobs are simple and barely noticeable."

David Asher feels it's more difficult to design and install a modern kitchen than a traditional or theme one. "If you make a slight mistake in a traditional kitchen, you can fix it with molding or trim," he said. "You don't have that option in a modern kitchen. The workmanship has to be perfect because you can plainly see all of it. Making sure all the corners met precisely in this kitchen drove me nuts, but I got it right because I didn't want any mistakes to haunt me over the years."

The Ashers decided to conceal their refrigerator behind cabinetry.

"When the kitchen is open to the family room, it's nice not to have to look at a huge refrigerator that can visually dominate the space," said Carol. "This way it's just part of the handsome maple cabinetry and you don't even know there is a refrigerator in the room."

The Asher kitchen gets a lot of traffic because the family entertains often, but if you want to see what an award-winning timeless contemporary kitchen looks like up close, you can. The Asher kitchen will be part of the Symphony of Kitchens project when the Sarasota Orchestra organizes a public tour of several outstanding kitchens in February.


Avoid trends. Remember pickled oak, mauve? You don't want that if you're aiming for the timeless kitchen.

Natural woods such as maple, cherry or pear work in any time period. White is the ultimate timeless color if you wanted painted or lacquered cabinets. Also black, but it's more dramatic.

Light changes everything. You cannot have a truly successful kitchen without proper lighting.

For a timeless contemporary look, avoid ornamentation (crown molding, corbels, pilasters, etc.) and aim for clean, straight lines with crisp edges.

Drawer pulls and knobs can date a kitchen. Do you really need them with doors and drawers that open and close by touch? If you opt for hardware, make it simple and plain.

Include things that cooks of all eras need — lots of prep areas, deep sinks, quality appliances, expansive counter space, organized storage, no-fuss floor, lights and surface finishes easy to clean.

Plan, plan, plan. Get the floor plan and the details worked out before you start. Changes during construction are costly.

Marsha Fottler

Marsha Fottler has been a newspaper and magazine lifestyle, food and design writer since 1968 first in Boston and in Florida since 1970. She contributes to regional and national publications and she is co-publisher and editor of a monthly online magazine that celebrates the pleasures of the table called Flavors & More. (941) 371-8593.
Last modified: November 30, 2012
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