No longer your grandmother’s kitchen, which usually was isolated from the rest of the house, and where meals were prepared from scratch and the only bow to style was a pair of cheery curtains and some pretty canisters, DiNisio said kitchens today are usually open to the family room, have a wide view of the outdoors and are filled with lots of natural light.
“Kitchens today are much larger,” he said. “Food preparation has become a social activity that involves several members of the family.” He also said that many people who like to entertain at home insist on having a “party kitchen,” one large enough to prepare meals, serve guests and be conducive to mingling.
Consumers are demanding more architectural interest, DiNisio said, and this is being satisfied by a trend toward higher ceilings; decorative beams and moldings; large, unusual-shaped windows; and ornate cabinetry. The higher ceilings, he said, allow for taller cabinetry, make the rooms look taller and add storage space.
Even smaller kitchens are incorporating many of the same characteristics as their larger counterparts, DiNisio noted. He suggested that smaller kitchens be located on an outside wall so they can take advantage of natural light. Locating smaller kitchens there also gives architects and home builders an opportunity to include cathedral ceilings and outside windows to make a narrow space more open, he added.
Clever Conveniences and Attitude
Inside today’s kitchen you can now find multiple sinks, multiple ovens, oversized or tabletop dishwashers, combination microwave/toaster ovens and even the return of dumbwaiters, said Mary Jo Peterson, president of the design firm Mary Jo Peterson, Inc., of Brookfield, CT. Home owners, she said, are seeking convenience, and appliance manufacturers are supplying it.
“The story about sinks is bigger, deeper and more,” Peterson said. Not only that, they are being supplied in a variety of surfaces, including stainless steel, still the number-one preference, but also copper, bronze, a variety of stones, solid surfaces and enamels. “The sink is an opportunity to make a statement,” she said.
With convenience a primary factor in kitchen and appliance design, manufacturers are responding with appliances that can handle the increased amount of activity in today’s kitchens. Freezers, refrigerators and dishwashers now come with drawers. There are microwave ovens combined with coffee makers, larger refrigerators, multiple — but not stacked — ovens, dishwashers are raised, as are washers for clothes. “People don’t want to bend anymore,” Peterson said. “With the appliances, it’s all about the details.”
To make the whole kitchen more convenient, storage is finding its way into backsplashes, toe kicks are getting larger, up to nine inches tall, open shelving and walk-in pantries are more prevalent and dumbwaiters are returning and giving home owners access to storage in another part of the home. The reason for all these changes: “We’ve given up kitchen walls to windows, so we don’t have tall spaces anymore,” said Peterson.
Kitchen décor now includes attitude, she added. Materials include granite, marble, metals, even concrete. Countertops have new edge treatments, which all can be incorporated within the three major design trends for kitchens — Traditional, which includes lots of cherry and a country flair; Organic Contemporary, which has hints of Shaker, sculptural lighting and simple, natural flair; and Old World, which incorporates rich woods and hardware, and small niches, and can include European cottage design.
Warm, Frantic and Comforting
According to Barbara Anderson, owner of Preferred Designs, Inc. of Kennett Square, PA, today’s kitchen is defined by the family that it embraces.
There can be a special workspace for mom that includes a woven chair and office/desk area. Kitchen islands are doubling as eating areas. Called “conversation islands,” they are configured so family members or guests can sit around the island rather than in a straight line. Oversized islands with a European look — known as “harvest islands” — also are finding their way into larger kitchens.
Regarding design, painted and glazed cabinets are becoming popular, according to Anderson. Hot color choices for 2004 include celery green, creamery yellow and pantry white. Stainless and black remain the top two choices for appliances and dark wood-toned cabinets remain popular, she reported.
Lighting is increasingly becoming more important in kitchen design, Anderson said. Chandeliers and accent lighting are becoming part of the décor.
Cooking grottos and decorative range hoods are becoming popular, she said, as it the “mantle look” with decorative corbels and raised panels. “Stucco and the use of other outside materials are coming into the kitchen,” Anderson said.
She also noted that cabinet embellishments — including seeded or antique glass, edge and dart moldings, beadboard inserts in doors and turned or rope fluting — are becoming more popular.
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