R5 Today’s Kitchens

The prevailing trend in todays kitchens is bigger is better. Indeed, some new kitchens are suite-like, providing workspaces for multiple cooks, a home office, and multimedia entertainment center. Comfortable seating adds charm and flexibility, creating a cozy space for mixing and mingling with guests, or just relaxing and browsing through a cookbook for inspiration.

Annmarie McCarthy, an architect and partner in Fivecat Studio in Pleasantville, says that the trend nowadays is mixing and matching. Stained kitchen cabinets, for example, make a nice counterpoint to painted surfaces. Off-white perimeter cabinetry might be paired with a center island in rich, natural wood. Or color combinations can be flip-flopped, with creamy countertops and a black-glazed cherry-wood base for the breakfast bar, and dark granite atop light-colored storage units in the cooking area.

Digging in the back of a cabinet or half-emptying a pantry shelf to get to the item you need is a thing of the past. Cabinets and drawers come with built-in dividers, pull out shelves, Lazy Susans and more to keep storage areas well organized and provide convenience. Tired of opening a cabinet to a tumble of Tupperware, homeowners are opting for deep drawers instead of shelves in base units, so they don’t have to be quite as conscientious when stacking items of varying sizes and shapes.

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Many cabinets are styled like fine furniture, with carved corbels and moldings. Even the kitchen ventilation system is getting dressed up, with hearth-style range hoods that would look at home above an elegant fireplace in a luxurious manor house. The majority of kitchen redos in this area are traditional or country style, but there’s been an uptick in demand for the contemporary look. Stainless steel or copper hoods work with any of these.

Granite is still the top counter material, but composites such as Silestone and CaesarStone are generating a lot of interest. Made of chips of granite, quartz and other natural materials suspended in resin, these surfaces are heat and stain resistant and don’t require sealing or special care. Fireslate, which has been used on woodstoves and in chemistry labs for decades, is another durable material that is popping up on the kitchen design radar.

A mix of countertop materials can happily co-exist in the same room. Butcher block makes a convenient chopping surface in the food prep area, heat-resistant ceramic tile is a handy resting place for hot dishes coming out of the oven, and easy-care surfaces such as Corian work well in the cleanup area.

All things high-tech are in demand for today’s kitchens. Sleek, plumbed-in coffee “systems” filter the water, and have multiple settings for grinding the beans, frothing the milk and dispensing cups of joe. With Miele, Gaggia, Schaerer and others manufacturing such sophisticated in-house models, no wonder Starbucks is closing hundreds of stores!

There’s no decrease in demand for pro-style appliances, whose hefty silhouettes are appropriately proportioned for spacious kitchens. But the stainless-steel behemoths are being joined by petite, drawer-sized microwaves, dishwashers, warming ovens and refrigerators, tucked into base cabinets and islands. Available in a variety of sizes, the drawers are ideal for secondary cooking areas, or butler’s pantries containing wet bars, snack centers, or near a counter used for heating and plating take-out meals.

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The bottom line on kitchen remodeling? According to Ed Pell, manager of marketing research for the National Kitchen and Bath Association, a luxury kitchen will cost upwards of $50,000 nationwide. A budget of $20,000 or less will pay for what the NKBA classifies as a “fundamental” redo that includes replacing at least one countertop or cabinet.

To achieve a renovation that’s in keeping with what your property is worth, “expect to spend ten to fifteen percent of the value of the house,” advises Maria Tanzi, a designer at Garth Custom Kitchens in Scarsdale.

But in a kitchen redo, the big payoff is in the increased livability, comfort, and enjoyment of your home that the enhancements will deliver every day.

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