of New Century Sizzles
With Great Ideas
Are kitchens in for changes now that weve crossed into a new century? Yes, interesting changes are underfoot, according to trends experts. Kitchens, they say, will continue to take on new roles, so theyll have to become ever more spacious; further ease and the information age will come to appliances, which will drastically change lay-outs; and cabinetry will work differently and look like furniture.
Barbara Umbenhauer, a trends watcher at Rutt Custom Cabinetry, explains that kitchen design is closely tied to the way families live, and the busier families get, the more they want ease and comfort.
The kitchen is no longer a place where mom presides over cooking and cleaning chores, she says. Its a complete environment for families and friends. Family members dont always eat at the same time. Theyre in and out of the kitchen, sometimes at different times and sometimes at the same time. And in many homes, everybody cooks. That means there has to be multiple cooking and prep stations. Were already seeing kitchens with two microwaves, two dishwashers, restaurant stoves with extra burners and grilles, a choice of ovens, and several sinks located at strategic points.
Then, on weekends, guests pop in, and since every party ends up in the kitchen, it has to be great-looking, too. This is where the new furniture-like cabinetry comes in. A kitchen that incorporates furniture is more comfortable and civilized than a room of nothing but built-ins. Free-standing units that may look like armoires, built-in cabinetry that combines two colors, and antique finishes are some of the techniques used by designers to add charm and comfort to kitchens.
New Design Ideas
Barton Lidsky of The Hammer & Nail, an award-winning kitchen design firm in Wyckoff, NJ, feels that new refrigeration systems, which are available as a series of differently zoned cooler and freezer drawers and cabinets are already changing kitchens drastically.
The fact that theres no big hulking refrigerator to fit into the scheme of things has banished the need for the classic kitchen work triangle, he says. But thats only part of the new freedom from formula design. Increasingly, our clients ask for design that would be unheard of a few years ago. A good example is a kitchen we designed with three islands, each one in a different geometric shape. The owner didnt like the idea of built-in cabinetry along every wall.
Lidsky agrees that kitchens will continue to grow in size, but he feels that designers must be careful to plan the space with niches and partitions to create different areas with a sense of intimacy.
One large room is boring, he notes. It lacks movement, and its often noisy.
North Carolina designer Janine Jordan, professionally known as Janine, foresees important changes in kitchen and appliance design.
Were already seeing dishwashers being raised, she says. But in the future, we may well have dishwashers in drawers or popping out of a countertop for even easier use. I can also picture refrigerators that are computerized to furnish shopping lists, recipe suggestions, etc. In the future, people could be grocery shopping on the Internet, and have the items delivered through a back panel of a refrigerator.
Janine agrees that cabinetry that looks like furniture will continue to be a worthy investment and a factor in designing a home.
Its friendly and beautiful, and it takes the edge off all that technology, she remarks. However, even built-ins are being modified. Upper cabinets may go all the way down to the counter for better accessibility. Cabinet hardware mechanisms are ever evolving, too, to make storage easier to reach.
Both Lidsky and Jordan say that countertops will no longer be one long slab of whatever material.
We need multi-level counters for trans-generational use and safe access, explains Janine. And we need different countertop materials for chopping, parking hot pots, and serving.
Umbenhauer says that Lidsky and Janine have zeroed in on the essence of the kitchen of the future. Its obvious that customization will be all-important, she notes. Its not very likely that peoples lives will become less hectic, so theyll be looking for comfortable and very personal homes, and a standard kitchen wont do. Just like people now want custom-made jeans and cars, theyll want kitchens designed and crafted expecially to accommodate the way they cook, eat and enjoy life.
For examples of beautiful custom kitchens, contact Rutt, PO Box 129, Goodville, PA 17528. 1-800-420-7888. The companys 100 page Folio is $15.