Kitchen Remodeling Trends
So what’s new with kitchens? Nearly everything! For one thing appliances are on a whole new level, cabinet styles are substantially different and designers have reacted in the mainstream to a new living dynamic in the home. If it continues you will probably see fewer and fewer formal dining rooms outside of those homes where the owners have a lot of “formal” dinner parties and heavy entertaining schedules. For years, the kitchen has been the “gathering place” for family and friends. Dining rooms sort of morphed into great rooms, which morphed into the gathering room, which was really an opened up extended kitchen. It’s not like the 50”s when Barbara Billingsley went into the kitchen with the other women and they prepared a meal while the men sat in the study or living room and smoked pipes and talked “serious” stuff. Meal preparation, glasses of wine, conversation, socialization and a sense of “community” happen in these extended kitchens. These new spaces afford us more opportunity to communicate and spend time together and that’s a driving force behind kitchen design.
Many of the kitchen remodels I perform involve improving the traffic flow in, around and through the kitchen. My goal is to make the kitchen more accessible and user-friendly. As a part of the process I decrease separation from the rest of the house by opening the area up so it’s more hospitable to the family or guests that quite naturally congregate in this area during the food preparation.
There may be Internet access close by and while Mom or Dad is working in the kitchen, the kids can be online, doing homework, playing videos or games on the flat screen that’s usually visible from the kitchen.
I like the way this interaction feels. Couples or housemates can work together in the kitchen or share conversation while one might be prepping food and the other is printing up an online recipe or watching a football game. The family has a place that is conducive to many different activities and this new space affords the opportunity to stay connected while involved in those activities. Personally, since I face great personal challenges in the culinary arts, I prefer to drink a glass of wine and talk to my personal chef since she has no equal in that department. I know what I’m good at and believe me that ain’t it! I believe it’s called Culinary Artistic Deprivation Syndrome. If it hasn’t been invented yet, somebody will. I’m tempted to buy the domain name before somebody else does.
So to begin with, the definition of this kitchen space and the usage of it has changed significantly. The kitchen of today is very closely linked to the rest of the house, specifically to a great room or family room, which is an extension of the kitchen. They share the larger communal area and enable more interaction between friends and family.
As far as the cabinets themselves, I think we go through cycles and combinations. There is no longer pressure to have the island cabinetry the same as the rest of the kitchen. The island can range from a distressed wooden top with a shelf below to cabinetry that looks like furniture with pedestal legs and refrigerator drawers. The sky is the limit as the sense of personal design freedom expands.
There are many contemporary kitchens, which have far fewer wall cabinets than years ago. Contemporary, Euro, Modern are all on the rise in popularity at the moment. Proportionately, the number of luxury kitchens is also on the rise. We find kitchens with dual appliances for two cooks, dual workstations, and two islands instead of one, cabinetry that looks like furniture, and countertops featuring concrete and glass. Up to this point, these have been my personal observations but let’s look at some supporting documentation from Jim Krengle, a CMKBD designer. According to Jim, luxury kitchens are on the rise. We live in a more casual society that places more emphasis on comfort. The traditional dining room of the past is generally too formal and stuffy for today’s families. The principle of Centricity applies and simply means the kitchen is the center of all the activities in the home. I mentioned this earlier relative to computer workstations, desk areas, access to and clear visibility to a television. The easiest way to picture all this is by simply eliminating the traditional wall between the kitchen and the formal dining room. The general rule is to create a space that’s easy to gather and socialize in. According to Jim’s statistics and research:
- 67% of families socialize in the kitchen
- 33% spend 3-4 hours per day in the kitchen
- 58% the kitchen is the favorite room in the house
- 86% activities other than cooking take place in the kitchen
- 42% prefer the kitchen be opened up to other rooms
These reasons support the movement to larger great rooms, family rooms, communal spaces and the desire to create an environment. Society, in its ongoing development causes our designs to be fluid and reflect our life style, sense of personal comfort and activity levels. This is a living dynamic that is constantly in a state of flux. Our remodel is a statement of its present condition, a snapshot in time of how we gather and live. Currently these designs and trends impact and support the family life for greater socialization.
According to Franke, (sink manufacturer) their research shows 75% of the activity in a kitchen happens around the sink. Well guess what’s happening to sink locations. Are they still under the standard window? Not so much anymore. Now, homes are traditionally built with a window over the sink. You can generally look at a blueprint and drop your finger on the sink location by looking for an outside window on a side or back wall. Here’s an interesting point that Jim mentioned in a seminar. “There are many homes where both occupants leave early in the morning while it’s dark and return late in the day when it’s dark again” The sink location in front of the window and the function of bringing in the sunlight is becoming less a factor. More sinks are being located in the island. This started some years ago rather innocuously by placing a “vegetable washing” sink in the island. By calling it a vegetable washing station, we eliminated the problem of friends and neighbors asking us why we had a sink in the island (since we all know where the correct location for a sink is). A few years of this conditioning and all of a sudden we have the main sink in the island. As a result of this we have more counter space for cooking, baking, cookie sheets and whatever things are part of your lifestyle. Three things are important here.
- The home should reflect your lifestyle
- Your lifestyle is always in a state of flux
- Your design ideas can be innovative and personal to you and not a copy of your neighbor’s kitchen. Omg, can you believe they put a sink in the island, what’s up with that???I think they must be losing it!!
I mentioned earlier it was no longer necessary to have island cabinetry the same color or style as the base and wall cabinets. There are kitchens designed with 2 tones on the upper cabinets or one tone upper and one tone lower. If you like it and it looks good then feel free to innovate!
Luxury kitchens are on the rise and there are solutions for every budget to accomplish that “dream kitchen”. Nearly every kitchen I visit, the homeowner expresses the idea “I’d really like to open this place up and maybe take out that wall over there, can we do that?” Learning what they want to achieve, I will not suggest a 100k solution when the budget is less than that. I will mention solutions and ideas that I know can be accomplished within my clients price range. I think it’s in extremely poor taste to be hitting people over the head with ideas that are beyond their financial reach. When I’m on the job, I’m a team player. I know for 10k we can do this, for 20k we can do that. I also warn them what appliance choices can do to their budget. If I know the budget target is lower, I’m not suggesting 48” dual fuel ranges with hoods the size of commercial kitchens and side by side Sub Zeros but I will suggest, recommend or specify materials and appliances that will look great, have a long working life and enhance their new space. I really want them to feel good about this new space and their choices and how everything turned out.