Below are the top 8 features that maximize function and aesthetics in today’s contemporary kitchens:

  1. Built in Appliances
    There is no question that built-in appliances are one element that brings a regular kitchen to the next level for a beautiful custom finish. Beyond built in fridges, stoves, dishwashers and microwaves, many of today’s clients desire drink and coffee stations with built in wine fridges and espresso machines, as well as kids drink stations to hold juice and soda at the perfect desired temperature. As a designer, it is important to identify the must-have built in appliances that will fit into your space and budget, and to ensure that appliances are selected prior to cabinetry for a custom finished look.

  2. The Kitchen Island
    Whether floating or stationary, planning for a kitchen island or peninsula with seating area(when space allows) makes for a much-desired, functional feature for today’s kitchens. These features serve many purposes such as, every day food prep, informal family eating, a homework station, or as an entertaining/gathering area.
    The island has taken on many additional practical and functional features such as built-in extensions, stoves, sinks and dishwashers.  The island has become the central feature of contemporary kitchens and they are here to stay.
  3. Built in, pull out Garbage and Recycling stations
    Ideally situated near the sink and dishwasher, this is a feature that is often overlooked but very necessary; after all, what kitchen does not require a garbage and recycling bin? There is nothing more convenient for easy clean up than to pull out a drawer or open a door that contains all the bins you need for easy clean up and recycling. Having it built in to your cabinetry provides for a sleek, clean look in the kitchen, eliminating the need for stand alone garbage containers that are sometimes ugly and take up much-needed space.

    4. Deep pull out full extension drawers instead of doors
    Where possible, instead of doors, pull out drawers on your lower cabinets is a must.  One of the big negatives with the basic, lower door-style cabinets is that one cannot easily see what is inside at the back of the cabinet without getting right down on to the floor. The functionality and convenience when choosing deep pull-out drawers over doors for your lower cabinets are just two of the many reasons this design concept has taken contemporary kitchens by storm.

    5. Pull-out pantry shelves and spice racks
    Whether you have the space and budget for a walk-in pantry or a pantry cabinet, the convenience of pull out shelving when grabbing your non-perishables is just as important for maximum efficiency and function as with your lower cabinets.  The pantry without the pull-out shelves makes it hard to find what is tucked away at the back; that is, if you can even remember what lingers there. Pull-out shelves are a must-have in people’s busy, hectic lifestyles, for quick and easy access.  The same goes for spice racks typically situated near the cooking area. A pull-out spice rack provides easy access to your favorite seasonings.

    6. Mix of Open shelving, plus a combination of solid or glass doors for your upper cabinets
    There is no question that open shelving has grown in popularity in recent years. It can make a space look larger and less congested, while still providing practicality and easy access to the items kept on them. The negative with open shelving is that it can be hard to keep them from becoming cluttered and collecting dust. The ideal set-up would be to add a combination of open shelving with some upper cabinets, with solid or glass doors, to the ceiling(if possible). This feature eliminates the nuisance of another dust collector created by wasted space between the cabinet tops, and the ceiling.

    7. The Backsplash
    The “backsplash” was originally implemented into kitchens (mainly behind the stove and sink) to provide a solid, easy-to-clean surface and provide protection against greasy messes. Over time, the backsplash has evolved to become a decorative element, often highlighted as the focal point in the room, and has come well beyond basic, boring materials used in earlier years. Contemporary backsplashes include beautiful mosaics, unique stone cut in various patterns, or metals such as stainless steel and hammered copper, extending from counter height, all the way to the ceiling(depending on the budget). The options are endless when providing practicality and easy clean-up, as well as a finished, decorative element, to your favorite gathering space.

    8. Varying types of Lighting 
    Ambience and aesthetics are provided by using common options such as under cabinet and inner glass cabinet lighting. In contemporary kitchens, a combination of recessed lighting along with a few pendants is most common, although there are many options.
    There is no other place more important to ensure there is proper lighting than the heart of the home. The kitchen is one of the places where bright light is most important, requiring the ability to create a daylight atmosphere when natural light is not available.

          In summary, whether the space you have or the budget available is big or small, keeping these elements at the top of your mind as you plan out your traffic patterns
          will guarantee a winning combination for a beautiful kitchen to be enjoyed by those who occupy it.  

         - Clara Tcheon, Rooms 2 Rooms Decorating & Design (pdf)

Parent Category: DDA Reads
Category: National Blog

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