In today’s modern world, we often find it hard to gather our families around a formal dinner table to discuss the day without various interruptions from technology (i.e. your son’s or daughter’s addiction to text messaging). We have two choices: fight the information age, or let ourselves be integrated into the high tech universe.
The kitchen now more than ever reflects these changes, and is usually one of the most technologically modern rooms in the home. Our kitchens are more and more becoming the very heart of our homes, where the family meets sometime during the day. What time, or how many times a day depends on the family, but for most it’s where the parents cook, kids do homework and/or help with food preparation, pets get fed, lunches are made, and schedules are discussed. Knowing this, most kitchens will seem to be inadequate for all of the activities that take place there. Fortunately for the remodeling and design community, homeowners are recognizing this and are undertaking major remodels of their kitchens to reflect their personal lifestyle.
Some of the newest trends in kitchen design involve the technology wave mentioned above. Appliances are at the forefront of this wave. There are refrigerators by LG and Samsung that have LCD TVs that let you surf the web and keep track of things like knowing when you are low on milk or eggs. There is also an oven by TMIO that can act as a refrigerator until you use the internet or you mobile phone to connect to it and tell it when to turn on. As far-fetched as these appliances may seem, the fact that they exist at all shows a change in what some consumers are asking for in their kitchens.
There are also consumers who want the technology to be there as far as function, but as for the looks, they want their appliances to disappear as much as possible. To accomplish this, designers are applying panels of the same cabinet material that is in the kitchen to the doors on refrigerators, dishwashers, warming ovens, and other appliances. Some refrigerators are even made to look like stand alone armoires.
New appliances like dish drawers, microwave drawers, under counter refrigerator and freezer drawers, and cabinet depth refrigerators are also very popular.
Now we move on to cabinetry, what we as designers like to call the furniture of the kitchen. There are different types of new cabinetry, some of them being better quality than others:
- Job built – Usually built by a carpenter on the jobsite, often the cheapest option with the poorest result. *
- Semi-Custom – Manufactured cabinetry with standard widths, depths, and heights, with some custom pieces and finishes. A significant step up from job built, with doors and drawers being made to exacting standards and quality checks. One of the best semi-custom manufacturers is Brookhaven Cabinetry.
Custom – The finest available offering for cabinetry is custom cabinets that come from a manufacturer, and have beautiful door and finish offerings that come with guaranties and are supplied by kitchen design firms. These cabinets will have the most accessories and offerings for a client’s specific needs or wants. Woodmode cabinetry is one of the finest custom cabinet lines available.
Thankfully designers have seen a trend of even the most cost conscious consumers using at least semi-custom cabinets, which can add a great deal of resale value to your home.
In smaller kitchens, use lighter colored cabinets and touches of glass to give the space a more light and open feel. Use reasonably sized appliances and maximize your storage by using frameless cabinets. Be realistic about your space, if you love a kitchen in a magazine, examine it before you decide that you want that exact kitchen. Does your ceiling height match that of the picture? Is your room the same size? If you have a bungalow home with eight foot ceilings, and the picture you love has double stacked cabinets and a huge mantle hood, there is a good chance that the kitchen you are seeing in the photo has between ten and twelve foot high ceilings. Unless you are completely gutting your kitchen and raising your ceiling height, this look just won’t work in your space. Look for alternatives with the same style of cabinets, but shown in a setting more similar to your own space.
In larger kitchens, we are seeing some very interesting trends emerge. Coffee bars or drink stations are increasingly popular, as are double islands. Mantle hoods that can be eight feet wide and larger are also more common. Commercial appliances and specialty items like wok stations, steamers, pizza ovens, and deep fryers are in high demand. Using two different colors of cabinetry and mixing counter top colors and finishes is quite fashionable. Secondary prep sinks and additional under counter refrigeration in islands are highly suggested in very large kitchens where there may be more than one cook, or a house keeper.
Plumbing selection has become very diverse and personal. There is so much to choose from these days that it is hard to know what to choose. One of the largest trends is to use large single bowl sinks, with good depth, that allow you to put a whole skillet or cookie sheet in them to soak or wash. Pot fillers and pull-out spray faucets are still very handy and popular with consumers. A relatively new plumbing item in the residential world is the pedal valve. Imagine being able to step on a pedal to turn your faucet on when you have been cutting up raw meat, without adding germs on the faucet handle.
Using a kitchen designer is an excellent opportunity to create a space that is uniquely yours and help guide you through the newest trends in kitchen design. No one can know everything, and even some of the best interior designers will refer their clients to another designer who specializes in kitchen design. This way the client is getting the best information and advice, and the interior designer is doing what is in their clients best interest.