Designing the sociable kitchen

Kitchens are so important that we’re devoting several columns to them. Today we’ll outline new and exciting trends in the kitchen — and there are a lot of them!


Kitchens are so important that we’re devoting several columns to them. Today
we’ll outline new and exciting trends in the kitchen — and there are a lot of


The biggest change is in function. It remains true that the kitchen is
the heart of a home, but consider that the nature of the household is changing.
No longer does one person move efficiently between stove, fridge and sink to
produce family meals — the whole family is involved.


In a similar way, entertaining does not mean that canapés are served to
guests who sit in the living room, as was the custom in our parents’ time.
Instead, guests sit around the kitchen, sipping wine and chatting with the cook
or helping with food prep.


And the main hangout area in the room is, of course, around the kitchen
island. In response, islands are becoming longer and wider. The newest look
involves islands that are flat, although multi-level islands with both food prep
and eating areas remain popular.

If you’re lucky enough to have a big space, consider several islands
devoted to different functions — a cooking island, and a baking island, for
instance. You could even go as far as a kitchen with a series of functional
islands, rather than the usual line-the-walls approach. How cool!

Islands now appear more as separate pieces that look like elaborate
cabinetry or freestanding pieces of furniture. Architectural details such as
corner posts, insets, and open shelving add personality. In terms of colour,
islands can be treated in an accent shade, either lighter or darker than the
main colour.

Another trend that’s evident everywhere, but especially in the kitchen,
is the move toward personalizing décor. Kitchen décor no longer has rules that
must be followed. Usability and design must fit with the homeowner’s needs above
all else. This means not only more freedom in colours, materials and designs,
but storage customized to fit the owner’s needs. Makes a lot of sense,

As a result, we’re seeing less fussiness in finishes. Even traditional
kitchens are showing fewer embellishments and detail to clutter up space — the
trend continues to be toward simple lines and away from excessive or heavy

In kitchen cabinets, variety is the trend. Consider some of the exciting
new exotic woods that are appearing in cabinets, such as zebra wood, African
mahogany, and others. But don’t use the same finish throughout; think of
interspersing glass front cabinets to add interest. Painted finishes are also
gaining in popularity. Long cabinet runs tend to be boring, so kitchen designers
are careful to mix up different heights and depths.

Under-the-counter appliances, such as fridge doors, dishwasher drawers,
and warming ovens are increasingly popular, as are chef-style cooking equipment,
including oversized ranges, steamers and barbecue grills. Along the same lines,
integrated sinks, in which the sink and countertop are made of the same
materials, or large, square professional-looking sinks, are also getting more

Finally, a word to the wise: Function should always play a primary role
in whether you choose to go with a trend or not. If it doesn’t work for you,
don’t even go there!

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