The Sweeby Test

“The Sweeby Test” for Kitchen Design

– submitted by Sweeby  on July 31, 2007

The situation is this — You’re trying to decide between several different options (backsplash, flooring, island size or configuration, countertop material — whatever), and all of the options being considered look good. Functional and financial considerations are certainly important, but among the thousands of highly functional good choices — There are so many options to choose from! Which to choose and how to decide?
My suggestion was to try to figure out what you needed the element in question to contribute to your kitchen. To start by focusing on your kitchen as a whole, from a far-off hazy distance — to wander off into your favorite kitchen fantasy and think about what it feels like, not what it looks like. (Your real kitchen please, not the one where Brad Pitt feeds you no-cal chocolates while George Clooney polishes the brass knobs on your Lacanche.) Then using mood words, describe what your dream kitchen feels like:
  • warm or cool, tranquil and soothing or energetic and vibrant? calm, happy, dramatic?
  • cozy or spacious? light and bright or dark and rich?
  • subtle tone-on-tone, boldly colorful, textured?, woody or painted?
  • modern, traditional, vintage, rustic, artsy, retro, Old World, Arts & Crafts, Tuscan?
  • elegant, casual? sleekly simple, elaborately detailed, or somewhere in between?
  • pristine or weathered, professional or homey?
  • whimsical, sophisticated, accessible, romantic? masculine or feminine?
  • How much zing? and where?
The list goes on and on…
Once you’ve identified the way you want your space to feel, then write it down as best you can. Try to freeze that feeling in words so you can refer back to it if you find yourself losing your vision or going off track.
Then look at where you are so far with the elements you have, and ask yourself if you’re on the right course to create your dream? Odds are, at any given point in time, you’ll be part way there, but that you’ll need to go a little more this way, or a little more that way to move closer to your dream. Try to figure out what direction you need to go, what the missing element is that you need to add, (or just as important, if neutral background is what’s needed) and write a ‘Mission Statement’ for your ideal backsplash / flooring / countertop:
“The perfect backsplash for my kitchen will add an enement of romance and whimsy, while not disrupting the calm and soothing tone-on-tone color scheme or diverting attention from my beautiful granite.” or “My ideal countertops will provide the ‘zing’ my kitchen is missing right now, adding an element that is modern, rich, sophisticated and dramatic.”
Then evaluate your potential choices against this Mission Statement. Odds are, one of your options will further your dreams while most of the others, though beautiful, take your kitchen down another path.