The kitchen is the place that busy families cook, chat and congregate. Long considered “the heart of the home” kitchens are now the new family room, a hub of activity for families and guests.
“Whether you are entertaining, helping kids with homework or cooking weeknight dinner, everyone tends to congregate in the kitchen,” says Lindsey Schwartz, a designer with S&W Kitchens in Melbourne. “Therefore you really want to make sure the space is designed for your specific needs to make it a pleasurable place to be.”
So there’s no surprise that manufacturers and builders are offering additional features and designs to simplify and beautify the most frequently used room in the home. Some local experts share their insight on the latest trends and styles.
Less is More: Less is more in regards to the latest color. Gray is the newest color trend for kitchens. “Gray is the new beige,” according to Cathi Lane, designer with Burton Luxury Homes. “Cabinet color is generally the starting point and other elements are built from there.”
“Lots of whites, all shades, and gray tones,” Lindsay agrees. “Beige is always popular but we are seeing trends to select taupe tones.”
Stainless-Steel: Sleek silver stainless-steel appliances are popular now as well. Manufacturers now offer finger-print resistant steel. Exposed stainless-steel hoods are popular versus cabinet hoods of the past, according to Cathi.
Eco-friendly: Products made from sustainable materials are increasingly popular. Bamboo cabinets, reconstituted veneer cabinetry instead of exotic veneers, recycled glass countertops are some options that are available. Star-rated appliances help homeowners save money on energy bills and reduce the use of natural resources.
Come on in: Walk-in pantries, located near the kitchen and garage, are a solution for large families and those who like to buy in bulk. All baking supplies, canned goods and surplus commodities are hidden behind a closed door, to make room for dishes and other items that are used daily.
Ease of Use
Perhaps the most important quality to consider during a design or remodel phase is ease of use.
“People want speedy cooking options and lots of well-placed, purposeful cabinetry storage,” says Joe Goldblatt, general manager of Roomscapes of Brevard. “Also two-zone and three-zone kitchens are becoming the norm as more and more ‘living’ and entertaining start and stop in or near the kitchen.”
Cooking “zones” are developed to accommodate various functions in the kitchen and more than one cook. “The key is multiple sinks and proper placement of all the other elements in each zone.”
“No matter where we start, we make sure all the options have been considered. Everything in design is a tradeoff,” Joe says. “We don’t over complicate things but we give our customers the feeling of confidence that they made their decisions based on solid information.”
Lindsay agreed that working with homeowners is the key to a functional and beautiful space.
“We like to ask our clients lots of questions about the way they need the space to function for them. We also like to listen to their personal tastes and look at some of the existing décor in their home so we can incorporate that within our design while keep the space true to home’s style.”
Christopher Burton Luxury Homes offers models to help clients get an idea of where to start. “The kitchen is the most important space in the home and most homeowners design the rest of the home from this space,” Cathi explains.
A Place to Gather
Party Time. More homeowners are looking for ways to make entertaining easier in their home and specifically their kitchens. Square footage will determine how many features you can add but there are others ways to help entertain. For instance, an open floor plan that adjoins a great room and/or outdoor living space is ideal for entertaining both outdoors and in.
Here are questions to consider:
- What kind of events do you host (casual, formal, buffet, sit-down, etc)?
- How many people do you generally entertain at one time?
- How do you serve food? Do guests serve themselves in the kitchen or do you plate food and serve it in another space?
- Do you cook food yourself, or do you hire caterers for parties?
- How many people cook at one time while you entertain?
(Courtesy of HGTV Remodels.com)
A wine or beverage bar, buffet or a large island is a great way to help. Not only are these spaces extremely functional they add extra interest. Cathi recommends counter height designs rather than bar height to create open space for conversation.
Electronics are making their way to the kitchen as well. Popular items such as wall-mount televisions, sound systems, and computers are being incorporated so you can look up that recipe, watch the evening news or play some relaxing music while you cook dinner.
Home automation– More homeowners are relying on home automation with structured wiring for their home network which can make life at home a little easier in a busy world. Structured wiring allows homeowners to plug a movie into the DVD player and watch it on any TV in the house, or control all the lights from a single keypad. And that’s just the basics.
“The kitchen is home base for home automation – home automation is the heartbeat of the home,” Jason Barati from Absolute Automation.”
Upgraded or commercial level appliances
“Our refrigeration units allow much longer food preservation than a standard unit,” Joe Goldblatt explains. “That saves lots of money on spoiled, wilted food over the life of the product.”
Another appliance with updated technology, dishwashers are so quiet they have to have an indicator light to let you know they are running. “This is very important when the family room and kitchen are close or virtually combined.”
The sky is the limit with customized kitchens including built-in spice racks, portable cutting boards and wine coolers. Electronic operation can open cabinets with a light touch– handy for hard to reach upper cabinets and waste basket base cabinets. Cabinetry panels can hide even the largest appliances which enhance the room’s style. Microwaves are concealed in drawers.
For baby boomers that are downsizing (or right sizing) their homes these nicer amenities are often hard to find at the same level of quality in a smaller home. “I think people get it in their heads that luxury appliances only come in large sizes such as 48″ refrigerators and 48″ ranges. Not so,” says Joe Goldblatt. “For example, we have refrigerators by Sub-Zero that are just 27″ wide, Pro-style ranges at 24″ wide, and dishwashers at 18″ wide with all the luxury features of the 24″ units.”
When it comes to kitchen design there is no cookie cutter shape or size. Builders and designers are equipped with the tools and skills to make a dream kitchen, whether while building or remodeling, a reality.
That’s important when a kitchen is the central part of family life because as Joe explains, “If the chef is happy, everybody’s happy.”
RoomScapes of Brevard
Lifestyle Designs Cabinetry & Appliance Showroom
Kitchen Remodeling Countertops and Cabinet Refacing
Christopher Burton Luxury Homes
Custom Home Builder