For Function, Consider Your Layout
Think what you do most in your kitchen and situate the components—the sink, refrigerator, island and so on—to create an ergonomic layout that works best for you.
Stylish Kitchen Essentials
Take your kitchen from blah to ta-dah by adding a few of today hottest materials and products to your existing space.
- by Romy Schafer
Big or small, the kitchen continues to be the hub of many American homes. It’s where meals are prepared, bills are paid and children often do their homework. No wonder an updated kitchen typically returns more than 80 percent of a home’s value.
So if you’re planning to update your kitchen for aesthetic, functional or investment reasons, consider incorporating some of these popular products, materials and finishes into your design.
Stainless Steel Appeal
Stainless steel continues to be the material of choice for appliances, according to kitchen design experts. “Ninety-five percent of what I sell is stainless steel,” says Maria Martina, a certified kitchen and bathroom designer and custom appliance consultant at Reno’s Appliance/Renovators Resource in Fairfield, N.J.
Out of Sight
Microwave drawers and dishwasher drawers with easy-access control panels eliminate awkward stretching and bending when using them. Microwave drawers also don’t take up valuable counter space, while dishwasher drawers offer separate compartments that can be operated simultaneously or on different schedules.
If you enjoy ending the day with a glass of chardonnay, a wine storage unit will keep your favorite grape chilled to perfection. A beverage center, meanwhile, keeps thirsty kids and weekend sports fans out of your refrigerator.
Tops in Countertops
Granite countertops instantly add elegance to any kitchen. If your budget allows for this material, choose a color that complements your cabinets and decor, without blending in or disappearing.
If granite is not an option, consider an engineered stone for your countertops. Many of today’s quartz-based, engineered stones look very realistic compared to natural granite and come in a variety of colors, says Jim McDonaugh, a certified kitchen designer at Kitchen Village in Arlington Heights, Ill.
A final note: Be sure the material you ultimately choose for your countertop is completely nonporous, says Chef Ulrich Koberstein, a national spokesperson for the Kitchens of Kohler restaurants and for the Kohler Kitchen & Bath Plumbing Group in Kohler, Wis. Porous materials can become stained, resulting in a dirty-looking countertop.
One Sink, Two Sinks
If space allows, consider adding a second sink to your kitchen. Multiple sinks let multiple people prepare meals because they don’t have to share a sink, says McDonaugh.
They also help keep food cross-contamination to a minimum—when you’re preparing vegetables and fish, for example—and make cleanup easier, according to Koberstein. “If you’re doing everything in one section [of the kitchen], you have to clean down the area where you’re working between jobs,” he adds.
Don’t limit your kitchen lighting to a single ceiling fixture. Recessed can lights bring plenty of lighting into the space, while pendants add interest to eating areas, kitchen islands and elsewhere. And don’t forget under-cabinet or task lighting for reading recipes or food prep work.