Each Friday Simplifying Fabulous! presents Fab Fridays, an up-close-and-personal look at how one of our community members simplifies fabulous in their own life. Is there someone you’d like to see featured? Email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simplifying Fabulous! with Roberta Kravette of
Nieuw Amsterdam Kitchens
About Roberta Kravette, AKBD, LEED AP ID+C, is founder and managing director of Nieuw Amsterdam Kitchens in Manhattan. She has been in the residential design industry for over 15 years, nine of which were spent in Moscow, Russia. Her blog, Green Kitchens By Design, highlights her firm’s vision to create “healthy kitchens for a sustainable world.” Her environmentally-responsible spaces marry esthetics, convenience and respect and are designed to enhance the health and well being of her clients and their families.
Robin Baron: What do you love about being a kitchen designer?
Roberta Kravette: I love seeing ideas come to life. I usually work with other design professionals who first put the homeowner’s hopes and dreams into a design, and then I specify the “dream” to be built in a healthy, environmentally responsible way. At the end when the collaboration of design, dream and reality come together, it is thrilling!
RB: What design elements in your home have you really personalized? Tell us about your own kitchen!
RK: My kitchen is tiny…I live in New York City! Since it’s a rental and I cannot change it’s bones, I have built “up” with cutting boards and serving platters on the walls almost to the ceiling. I also make maximum use of shelf and drawer dividers. In other parts of the home, it’s clear that I love color. I have a brick-red wall, a melon wall and some yellow walls. My boyfriend and I both love art. My taste runs to the classical and I am a glass fanatic. He loves Mid-Century modern and stone and wood. The apartment is becoming quite the eclectic mix.
RB: What do you love most about your home and why?
RK: I’ve lived in a number of places, including abroad for many years. There are certain things that always have traveled with me and help to create a home no matter where I am. My books are one of those things. I have a collection of art and philosophy books, as well as some fiction that I read and reread. They are the first things that are unpacked when I arrive in a new place. Then there are my mother’s porcelain lamps and a couple pieces of art. We have a history together. They provide continuity and a bridge from old lives to new.
RB: What do you keep on display around your home?
RK: As I mentioned, I have a large library, so there are shelves with books and photographs of family and friends with travel mementos interspersed. I also keep my collection of champagne and wine glasses on shelves. In my dressing area, I have shelves with retail earring stands. The earrings become a fun part of the decor and are easy to find in the morning. There is a garden outdoors when possible …when not, the garden is inside.
RB: What have you learned during your years as a kitchen designer? Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share?
RK: Every project is different and every person has a unique idea of what makes a space their “home.” Many times the client does not know how to articulate it. For years, I lived and worked abroad creating spaces for people transferred to a somewhat hostile environment far from their own countries. The single most important thing I learned is that if you can understand and respect what a person “sees” when they speak about “home” then what you create for them will be successful no matter where it is, no matter what the circumstances. A person’s home is their oasis. The greatest responsibility we have as designers is to make sure that oasis stays true to our client’s personal definition of it. My mantra is “follow your bliss,” which was said by Joseph Campbell who was a scholar, writer and teacher. It’s good advice for design, career and life.