for Today’s Home Chef
While it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the open-plan kitchen trend
began, it’s still immensely popular as people continue to entertain at home
and socialize while cooking. As an added plus, open kitchens also give
the illusion of a larger space. The debate rages on, however, about whether
this is a passing fad or a characteristic that is here to stay. For Kelly,
“The open kitchen is alive and kicking, thanks to the way we live today.”
And, so long as this trend remains, designers and manufacturers alike will
continue to respond by enabling homeowners to tuck away appliances,
use interior organizers to stash utensil and pantry clutter, and cover built-ins
to make the space blend in with the rest of the home.
Whether an enclosed or open kitchen, the dominating aesthetic has
been transitional, according to a 2017 trend report from the National
Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). But now, contemporary style is taking
over second place from traditional, it states. Homeowners are seeking
clean lines and simple door styles, as well as built-ins that contribute to
the sleeker look. The most popular color scheme for cabinetry, the report
reveals, consists of grays and whites, with blue and black emerging.
Two-tone kitchens—as well as mixing material palettes—also are on the rise.
Manufacturing advancements abound in this space. In surface materials,
for example, advances have enabled quartz to better simulate natural
stone while outperforming granite, so it’s only logical that designers and
remodelers surveyed for the trend report specified it more than any other
material for kitchen countertops. Although quartz is already a proven
high-performance, low-maintenance material, manufacturers continue
to find ways of enhancing it. A recent innovation, for example, is Silestone
N-BOOST by Cosentino. Essentially, Cosentino modified the material’s
surface on a molecular level, improving its water resistance and liquid
repellence for even easier cleaning.
While some designers are creating a seamless appearance by using the
same countertop material for the backsplash, others are opting for tile
backsplashes to add pattern, texture, character, color—or all of the above.
According to DeeDee Gundberg, director of product development and
design at ANN SACKS Tile & Stone, cement, encaustic, and handcrafted
ceramic tiles are hot, and all of these actually reflect a larger trend: “The craft
movement has had a substantial impact on design in general, and has found
its way into the tile business,” says Gundberg. “Anything that is handmade
or handcrafted is desirable, along with authentic production methods.”
As such, among the latest products released by ANN SACKS is a new
encaustic series designed by Kelly Wearstler.
Let’s not forget that the kitchen is for cooking, too. Describing his clients,
Toronto-based U31 Inc. Principal Kelly Cray notes, “Older generations enjoy
cooking at home, as do millennials. Gen-X is split in terms of dining in
or out. And, the culture of ‘celebrity TV chefs’ also has motivated society
to cook more, so kitchens are accommodating this.”
“Food is a mega-trend that touches most people,” adds
Daniel Schwab, vice president of sales at kitchen sink and
accessories manufacturer Franke Group. “The chef today wants a
kitchen that ‘works’ and where the parts fit together. There’s also
a trend of the kitchen being the center of the house and a place
to entertain guests.” For that reason, the Swiss company introduced
the Chef Center suite of intelligent food-prep and cooking
accessories, some of which are multipurpose and fit precisely onto
the Franke sink. These components include a roller mat that drains
dishes but doubles as a trivet; a removable cutting board perfectly
sized to rest above the sink securely; a drop-in antimicrobial
compost bin with cover that also can be used as a beverage ice
bucket; an over-the-sink colander; and a multilevel sink grid. Schwab
reveals that more functional accessories are in the works.
An open plan
design by U31
makes the most
of a small space.
(Image: Jac Jacobson)