NOW YOU’RE COOKING
Kitchens Blend Easy Flow, High-end Appliances and Accent Details
By Whitney Radley
On any given day, it’s not unusual for a kitchen to serve as a makeshift office, a staging ground for a science experiment and the set of an elaborate dinner. The modern kitchen may be the most utilitarian room of the house, but that doesn’t mean it has to look like it.
If your kitchen needs a makeover, professionals recommend starting by opening up the room to maximize space and improve flow.
“Sometimes taking down one wall can make all the difference in terms of openness,” says architect Charles Todd Helton. But, he cautions homeowners, “You do not want to sacrifice all of the upper cabinet storage for the sake of open concept.”
First embraced in the 1950s, open-concept living has become a trademark of today’s home. Gone are the days when cooking meant sure isolation: Kitchen islands increasingly link the workspace with the living and dining areas, sometimes even taking the place of a formal dining room.
Helton cites the example of a recent renovation where he removed a large wall between the kitchen and living room, built an island and installed wooden beams on the kitchen ceiling to echo the design of the living room. The result is a workspace that simultaneously feels more intimate yet flows seamlessly into the
Shawn Gottschalk, a partner at studioMET Architects, notes that many of his clients are looking for dramatic accent lighting over an island or an integrated breakfast table. This touch, once reserved for dining table treatment, further illuminates the trend toward the kitchen as the social center of the home.
Aesthetically, Gottschalk sees an increasing affinity for natural colors, clean lines and a mix of materials. Hardware is either hidden or concealed, and backsplashes are large tiles or seamless panels, rather than mosaics.
For a home cook or a busy family, the countertop needs to be durable and resistant to heat, spills and scratches. “People are moving away from natural stones like marble and opting for engineered surfaces like quartz,” says Gottschalk. “With any natural stone, homeowners have to seal it and reseal it over time, whereas quartz is virtually maintenance free.”
Builder Monte Smith sees clients moving away from heavy trim and crown molding in the kitchen, showing a preference instead for square corners and strong horizontal lines that lend a more modern look. With this sleek backdrop, Smith recommends that homeowners really think about what is on display.
APPLIANCES & BUDGET
“The microwave shouldn’t be a major part of what you’re looking at in the kitchen,” says Smith, “and building out of a box with a trim kit only draws attention to it.” He encourages clients to think of it as a countertop appliance, like a coffee maker, or to put it under the counter where it’s out of the line of sight.
More home cooks are incorporating commercial-grade appliances, like Sub-Zero refrigerators and Viking gas ranges. Automation is also increasingly important, from hands-free faucets to programmable espresso machines.
For homeowners on a budget, both Gottschalk and Smith suggest sticking with the configuration and cabinets you have. Simply repainting the cabinet fronts can give a kitchen the appearance of a renovation for a fraction of the price.
“Updating the hardware is also a really inexpensive and quick way to freshen up the kitchen,” says Helton. “This can be as simple as going down to the hardware store, picking out new cabinet pulls and replacing them yourself.”
The biggest mistake in renovating a kitchen is losing sight of a budget. With appliances, paint, surfaces and fixtures to consider, budget creep can easily set in. But, says Helton, “There are plenty of things that can be done, within budget, to update your home.”
Charles Todd Helton Architect Inc.
4115 Irish Ivy Court
Dishwasher and ovens
Schany Custom Homes
3818 Waterbend Cove
American Tin Ceilings
Monte Smith Designs
6265 W. Highway 105
Interiors by Sherry Smith
Floor & Decor
Saucedo's Granite Fabricators
11526 FM 2854
Capital Lighting Fixture Co.
2000 Edwards St.
La Nova Tile
4211 Richmond Ave.