Your kitchen is the place to live and live well. Focus on the functionality and fine finishes for a space you will enjoy spending time in for both quiet moments and boisterous gatherings. Trends come and go, but these ideas from local designers will lead to a kitchen that’s as efficient as it is beautiful.
Armoires and Monoliths
A kitchen full of same-ol’ cabinets can get a bit boring. The trend toward furniturelike pieces breaks up the monotony and makes the kitchen appear more like another room in the house.
“You don’t need all the wall cabinets in most kitchens,” says Randall Sisk, owner of Kitchens by Kleweno. “They’re so mundane and expected.”
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Instead, he uses the combination of a walk-in pantry, strategic shallow pantries, and custom freestanding units to fulfill clients’ storage needs.
A monolith takes the freestanding application to a new level, offering versatility in today’s open floor plans as a room divider.
“On one side, you can have all kinds of things — fridge, wine, storage — and on the other it looks like a finished piece — you could hang a TV on it,” suggests Geri Higgins, owner of Portfolio Kitchen + Home. “It’s a whole new game.”
Granite, of course, still has its place in the kitchen, and the well-selected pieces will be timeless, but another natural stone product is taking over the industry. Vicki Sneden of Armstrong Kitchens calls quartz “the prevailing product” and says 60 percent of her kitchens feature the material. It’s heat-resistant, scratch-resistant and doesn’t require maintenance.
“What appeals to most people is that it isn’t porous,” Sneden says. “And it comes with a 10-year warranty; granite doesn’t carry a warranty.”
Subway tiles have been trending for awhile now, but what’s new is their size, the grout line, and how they’re installed.
Designers seek tile that is handmade, crackled, glazed or variegated. Increased scale or an extra long dimension modernizes the historical pattern. Installing it on the vertical or in a herringbone pattern is another way to update the look.
Minimizing grout also can alter the aesthetic. Higgins recommends rectified-edge tiles, which leave a “credit-card edge” of a grout line for a seamless surface of tile. “It’s easy to clean, and the impact is powerful,” she says.
Whether your kitchen is for cooking or for show, a complete package of appliances wrapped into one is the new trend. It’s the pro-range on steroids, with six burners and built-in griddles on top; side-by-side regular oven and smaller steam oven in the middle; and a warming drawer at the bottom.
The center can be customized in a number of ways and by a couple of brands — Do you prefer Wolf’s red knobs or Thermador’s five-point star-shaped burner design? — for a price tag in the $15,000 range.
“It’s actually more cost-effective to buy this one piece than buying all these elements separately,” Higgins notes.
The Missing Microwave
Owners of the trendiest kitchens nowadays use the microwave only to heat up a cup of coffee. Thus, the once-critical appliance has been demoted and relegated to non-key positions or concealed altogether. It’s new place in the kitchen is hidden behind an upper cabinet or installed in lower base cabinets or islands where kids can more easily access it.
Alternatively, designers are steering their clients to an appliance that doubles as a microwave and convection oven: the Advantium. It looks more like a professional appliance in stainless steel and has more functions for the aspiring chef.
Whisking away smoke and smells is important to any home cook. Ventilation of some sort is necessary, and hoods have been part of the focal point of kitchens for years. But since you can buy a stainless steel hood from any big box store today, designers are taking a more custom route.
Designers are using vent inserts concealed by other materials like sheetrock or tile to make a visual statement. The functionality remains, while the custom nature allows freedom of design.
“You can create more shapes and use any material,” Higgins says. “The look is more inclusive to the style of the house.”
The Cost Factor
Despite what you might see on TV design shows, professional kitchen remodels are not fast, easy or cheap. Each home presents a different challenge in regard to space planning, renovation blocks (surprise, you’ve got asbestos!) and personal tastes. A medium-size kitchen remodel done well can cost upward of $75,000.
Money will always be part of any remodeling decision, but how much you spend on a new kitchen should be thought of in more than just financial terms. “People talk about not spending more than they can get out of it, but there’s something to be said for enjoying the time you have in your home,” Sisk says.