Kitchens are where we gather for sustenance and socializing. Making the right choices when updating the kitchen makes the space more functional and visually appealing, and leads to a higher resale value.
According to William Cole, CAPS, president of Divine Renovation, “The layout will make the difference in how efficiently you use the kitchen. A functional kitchen will make cooking and entertaining more enjoyable, while a poor layout may result in retracing your steps and adding time to your tasks.”
If you are about to remodel your kitchen, it is a perfect time to rethink your current layout and consider making your kitchen a more useful and accommodating space. Some questions to ask yourself are: How many cooks are in your family? How many people use the kitchen at the same time? How often do you entertain?
Cole advises, “When determining which layout will work best, keep in mind three basic areas: Food preparation, cooking, and cleanup.” Traditionally the work triangle consists of the refrigerator (where the food is stored), the stove (where the food is cooked) and the sink (where cleanup takes place) at the points of a triangle. This creates an efficient kitchen space.
Popular layouts include:
U shape: This layout uses three walls to create an efficient work triangle. This allows the cook to maximize their time doing tasks because appliances will be closer together. However, having multiple people working in this layout may be difficult depending on the size of the kitchen and if there is a kitchen island.
L shape: This layout uses one or two adjacent walls and works well because two or three of the work triangle functions can be on the same wall. This shape allows for better entertaining because a peninsula can be added in place of a wall. If the kitchen is large enough, an island can be added for more storage and function.
Galley shape: In this plan the walls are parallel and have all of the work triangle functions. It is very efficient because everything is closely located. It is not the best layout if a lot of people are in the kitchen at the same time. This layout may be difficult when entertaining, unless one wall is open to an adjacent room that may have a counter with seating.
Open layouts: This layout is a popular choice for today’s kitchens. The obvious advantage is the ease of entertaining and the cook’s ability to stay connected with family and guests while preparing food. The lack of walls increases the ability to have natural light in the space. The disadvantages to this layout are lack of privacy, noise and smells that travel. From a remodeling standpoint an open plan can add to the cost because of the need to remove walls and rearrange plumbing and electrical.
“A lot of things have stayed on the kitchen hot list for a while, but a few new things are becoming trendy,” Kevin Vick, owner of Vick Construction & Remodeling, said. “Among them is honing in on how to integrate the dining and living areas.”
Here are a few of today’s most popular kitchen remodeling trends.
KEEP IT BRIGHT
Homeowners are sticking to white cabinets, light-colored walls and more lights. Sherry Pruitt, owner of Whodid It Designs, said clients want light and an open space with a lot of flow.
“Adding lights is another popular and money saving change,” she said. “People are realizing they have many options, such as including LEDs, which add warmth and brightness.”
Stephen McNiel, founder of Creative Property Restoration, Inc., added that LED lights are flexible to install. “You can put them anywhere – add them to narrow spots, under cabinets, or showcase a backsplash,” he said.
Homeowners want home-automation devices that control everything, including those that can be operated from a cell phone.
Another trend is to eliminate electrical outlets in the backsplash. “We are installing something called plug-molding instead, which allows us to put the plugs anywhere along an ‘electrical strip’ under the upper cabinets, which runs adjacent to the LED under-cabinet lighting,” Vick said. “This feature greatly enhances the beauty of the kitchen by reducing ‘design clutter’ and gives homeowners the freedom to put outlets almost anywhere.”
CABINETS AND STORAGE FEATURES
Customers are always interested in storage solutions. In addition to trash bins that roll out from behind cabinets and lazy Susans that pull out from corner cabinets, Vick said clients often request cabinets around a refrigerator to make it look like a built-in.
Clients have also been requesting the elimination of walk-in, closet-style pantries. “We are fabricating built-in pantries with custom pull-out storage options instead. These pantries are designed to blend in with the cabinets and are a very efficient use of storage,” Vick said
McNiel likes the look of having different colors of cabinetry on the island and the main areas.
According to Vick, peninsulas and eat-in bars are still all the rage. “Our clients, like the rest of society, are very busy and want to spend time with family and friends as often as they can. These features allow cooking and dining time to be spent more intimately,” Vick said.
FINE FINISHES FOR EVERYTHING
Most clients request a natural-looking finish. McNiel said most of his clients want wood and wood-look floors like tile and laminate through the first floor. “Houses are so open these days that there aren’t different floors in different rooms,” he said.
Pruitt agrees that people want wood, engineered wood or tiles that look so much like wood they can’t tell the difference.
Vick sees that stainless steel, undermount sinks in all shapes and sizes still seem to be the thing most homeowners opt for.
With many options available for kitchens, guidance from a professional can make a major difference in the remodeling process as well as the finished result. Calling a professional from the GHBA Remodelers Council is a good place to start.