As the modern kitchen evolves, designers are expecting this year to bring simplicity, comfort and energy-efficiency
If you are thinking about overhauling an existing kitchen or building a new one, prepare for an exciting array of products, styles and materials that will make your kitchen the center of attention in more ways than one. Over the past few decades the kitchen’s role has shifted from a basic, no-nonsense cooking-only area to the central gathering place of the home. Along with its new status, kitchens have received a healthy dose of design and style that often set the tone for the whole house.
Trends can come and go, but they are definitely influenced by external and internal factors. Baby Boomers hitting retirement age, a lean economy, and the increasing number of single households are just a few ingredients that have contributed to today’s kitchen styles. The result of these considerations is a demand for functional, energy- conscious kitchens with heavy emphasis on quality,
style, and universal design.
Before you begin your next kitchen project, consider the following top five kitchen trends for 2015.
Most people would like to consider themselves environmentally aware, but understanding there are significant benefits to green features usually wins
them over. That means Energy Star appliances and Water Sense-rated plumbing fittings, as well as finishes rated as low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) and products with good ventilation and air filtration will be first choice for consumers. Studies show that most homeowners will pay a little more for sustainable products if there is a tangible return on investment in the form of energy or water savings.
Reclaimed, recycled, and raw materials are also popular for aesthetic as much as altruistic reasons. Countertops made of aggregate materials like concrete; salvaged beams; repurposed flooring, and even recycled doors are being explored by potential home builders as earth-friendly solutions.
2. High-Tech Fun
If you’re lost without your iPad or can’t leave home without your smartphone, you’ll be glad to know the kitchen of the future is calling your name. The modern kitchen has plenty of high-tech gadgets that combine functionality with fun making life easier while satisfying our desire for space-saving modern technology. Take for example Siemens’ multimedia ventilation hood. The unit features a built-in 17” LCD screen complete with options for watching television, DVDs or just listening to music. It can be used with electric or induction cooktops and still has room for a fan and halogen surface lights.
With a busy lifestyle, planning ahead is often a necessity especially when you have to consider cooking times. Now many companies are producing appliances, like ovens with speed-cooking features, which reduce time spent preparing meals. Miele’s steam oven will cook a whole chicken in 20 minutes versus 2 hours, induction rangetops use magnets to heat the interior of a cooking vessel producing faster cooking times, and last year LG introduced infrared technology that not only cooks faster, but also uses less energy.
There are also appliances in the works that will do the cooking for you. Imagine an oven that works as a refrigerator keeping pre-assembled food cold until you signal that it’s time to cook. Just send a text and “bam!” your food is ready when you arrive home from work. If you need to stay connected, you’ll love a refrigerator like Samsung’s WiFi enabled RF4289 whose integrated WiFi and front panel touchscreen allow you to tweet while grabbing a snack or access Pandora for your cooking pleasure. Of course it has more pragmatic features like viewing Google calendars, checking the weather, downloading recipes from Epicurious, or leaving digital notes. It even provides you with food spoilage alerts. We’re finding repeatedly in this high-tech world, that given some time, anything is possible.
3. Creative Color & Materials
Some surfaces like stainless steel will always have a role in modern kitchen design, but those old standbys are quickly losing steam against this year’s bright appliance colors and materials. More than ever color is key to making the family gathering spot a room of function and good taste. The trick is figuring out what color will best complement your home and where. Many homeowners are adding bursts of bold color on surfaces like countertops, backsplashes and tiles. Now even some appliances are being offered in trend setting colors other than black, white and stainless steel.
Mixing painted cabinets in colored hues like coffee, red and chartreuse with wood cabinets is a great way to create depth and interest. Just remember that adding color doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go with bright hues. Warm colors like pumpkin and yellow golds stimulate appetite and create a soothing atmosphere. Contemporary country colors like bruschetta browns, tender greens or warm golds with a hint of pink work well in cottage-style homes. To create a sense of sophistication, try deep purple with misty yellow and stone grays or burnt orange against vibrant blue and dark brown. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute explains, “What makes color trends different from year to year is how you put them together in fresh, inventive ways.”
In addition to adding non-traditional color, homeowners are getting a little more creative with their design ideas embracing kitchen materials like concrete, quartz and wood for countertops. Glass tiles are making their way as design focal points in backsplash tile and reclaimed products are being used to bring attention to kitchen islands and specialty cabinets. There is nothing more noteworthy in a kitchen than objects with their own history like a beautiful re-purposed light fixture or a table made from reclaimed heart pine.
4. Fresh & Healthy
Just like your mom always said, fresh is better for your body. Nutrition-conscious consumers are finally being rewarded with products that help keep cooking healthy. Many new refrigerators have food spoilage alerts along with climate control technology that keeps foods fresh longer. The GE Profile side-by-side refrigerator integrates two cooling systems for just this purpose. Its advanced humidity control protects food, limits defrosting, and keeps food odors from transferring to the freezer. An ExpressThaw drawer thaws meat in just hours and QuickFreeze does exactly what you expect.
Water filtration systems are also becoming more popular and less expensive. Many faucets are even available with built in filtration. The beauty of copper makes it a nice choice for kitchens, particularly sinks, where its natural antibacterial properties are especially alluring. Copper sinks are increasing available and their recyclable properties make them attractive for environmental reasons as well.
If you are looking for small routes to a healthy kitchen, you can also explore the many kitchen gadgets from rice steamers to immersion blenders on chefscatalog.com or smarthome.com.
5. Convenient & Multifunctional
Multitasking, time-challenged consumers shout hooray! A host of products is now available to minimize time spent in the kitchen and make daily tasks a breeze. Multifunctional kitchen sinks like The Galley workstation sink may take up a little more counter space but when you consider its functionality, you’ll be willing to sacrifice. An assortment of multi-level cutting boards, drain racks, colanders, condiment palettes and stainless bowls can be combined on sliding tracks over a 4 or 5 1/2-foot sink with disposal and duel faucets making food prep and clean up a breeze. Remove the pieces to reveal the stainless sink that can be filled with ice for a cold buffet or keep the cutting boards in place for instant counterspace and a warm serving buffet. (www.thegalleysink.com)
If you’re on a budget but want to give your kitchen a fresh look, try Broan’s new ready-to-hang decorative backsplashes. These tumbled-marble, pre-assembled fields of tile hang with all the permanence of a picture frame. It’s available in four designs, each in a brushed aluminum frame. Today’s microwaves are more energy efficient and multifunctional than ever. There are many varieties that can roast, grill and bake with convection precision. The Samsung Cubic Foot Convection Microwave can both brown and crisp food while it heats, and GE microwaves combine microwave with convection ovens for the ultimate cooking efficiency.