Two Guiding Themes
- The multifunction kitchen. This kitchen style is also called the blended kitchen and multipurpose kitchen. In the pandemic years, day-to-day life became more focused on the home. Work from home. School from home. Stuck at home. As a result, the kitchen has become the hub of the house. Many households embrace this in their kitchen improvement choices. The multifunction kitchen is a combination of components related to food plus the addition of living space. As a result, it needs a little bit of everything—decent appliances, adequate storage, a tea and coffee station, generous counter space, open shelving, a charging device station, and decor that would fit just as well in a living room. Desk space or a second island with casual seating is terrific if the kitchen’s footprint allows.
- The food-focused kitchen. Yes, home life has become busier, the outside world is crazier, and some of us want a place to get away from it all. For many, the kitchen is that place. The food-focused kitchen includes a space designed for food preparation—a daily routine that keeps you centered on what’s most important. The price of gas and the day’s politics are forgotten in this kitchen. This kitchen is best outfitted with high-performance appliances, plenty of storage for food and your favorite food-prep tools, spacious countertops, a double-basin sink, and a prep sink.
Clutter causes stress, and nobody needs more of that. The walk-in pantry lets you keep your countertops and shelves orderly and provides room for visually appealing items you might find on living room shelving or in a curio cabinet. This approach promotes a peaceful kitchen.
Most homeowners consider a pantry or double sink essential or desirable as part of their kitchen remodeling. You have two design options—upgrade an existing pantry or create a new one. Do you have a walk-in pantry now? If so, perhaps it’s time to update its style and upgrade its functionality. Where there isn’t a pantry, this is a larger-scale kitchen upgrade often requiring a structural change to borrow space from an adjoining area. You’ll gain in the kitchen but give up space elsewhere, so think this through before giving it the green light.
An experienced kitchen contractor can help you decide if this project is possible in your home and where best to locate the pantry. Also, consider including a tea and coffee station or electronics charging station in the pantry where it is out of sight but readily available.
Pros and Cons. A walk-in pantry is a plus for any kitchen style. In the multifunction kitchen, stored items might include food and small appliances, craft items, board games, seasonal decorations, or a shelf of favorite reading. In the food-focused or gourmet kitchen, a walk-in can be dedicated to things enhancing the kitchen’s utility and your enjoyment of spending hours preparing delicious food. If the area is large enough, it is also suitable for storing pots, pans, extra dish sets, and other kitchenware.
Many homeowners want more kitchen dining space in their multifunction kitchen. The design trend is toward integrating this component into the kitchen’s heart, providing a place for the family to eat together and a cozy spot to chat with guests deep into the evening. To make this concept work, the seating is more comfortable and multi-dimensional. That’s why we like the term lounge seating. It is also commonly called banquet seating. If your goal is a multifunctional kitchen, plan seating for at least four and as many as eight or ten.
For a quieter kitchen setup, a pair of comfy chairs and a low, round table make a perfect setting for relaxing by yourself or chatting over tea with a family member or friend while enjoying the delicious aroma of something baking in the oven.
Pros and Cons. You’ve got to have room for the seating, of course. And it is often built-in, meaning that it is an extension of an island or cabinetry. This makes it more permanent. You can’t move it around or remove it to suit your needs. The upside is that it helps make the best use of everyone’s favorite part of your home.
A Second Island
Kitchens have grown in the last twenty years, and a central island is essential. Most homeowners would like a double island if space allows. When another island is added, the two often have different purposes—one for cooking with a sink or cooktop, and the other with seating and open space for work, homework, games, crafts, rolling out pie crust, etc. Nearby open shelves for storage of easy access items are popular for a second island.
Natural wood tones with robust textures are part of a kitchen trend toward organic elements. Adding a light stain highlighting the woodgrain allows you to choose a shade that fits your design scheme. Where space won’t allow two islands, consider one larger island with room for food preparation plus a breakfast bar with seating.
Pros and Cons. This option is limited to large kitchens, and it only suits the multifunction theme. But it creates a place where it is easy to share activities.
Floor-to-Ceiling and Countertop-to-Ceiling Cabinets
This trend gives you maximum storage space for the footprint needed. These cabinets are popular for both kitchen schemes: multipurpose and food-focused. Floor-to-ceiling options include stacked cabinets or a full-length pantry. If you want out-of-site storage, choose solid doors when you have pretty things you’d like to display—select doors with glass panels or even those with open shelves. A combination of these can be lovely. You’ll want some traditional wall cabinets with space below for food prep, small appliances, decorative pieces, or canisters.
Pros and Cons. Full-length cabinets cost more, but they area better value because they give you more square feet of storage for the price.And there are no cabinet tops collecting dust. Keep in mind that items on upper shelves will be high, so you will want a nearby step stool. Store least-used items on the highest shelves.
Matching Slab Backsplash
An expensive upgrade option is to include a backsplash slab of stone that matches the countertop. Green-toned marble is a popular color, and it has a classic appearance that should look fresh for some time. If you think a matching green marble backsplash might be too much of a good thing, consider a slate tile backsplash with complimentary green hues.
Pros and Cons. The upside is continuity and elegance. But those features come at a higher cost than traditional backsplash materials.
A workstation sink is an under-mount sink with an edge where a cutting board, drainage board, colander, or drying rack can rest over the sink. Most are double sinks since they offer greater utility than large, single-basin sinks. Workstation sinks are often installed in the food-focused kitchen, but they are helpful for food prep and cleanup regardless of kitchen design.
Pros and Cons. A workstation sink saves counter space and makes kitchen work more manageable. You have a good selection of sink sizes and accessories. The average cost of a workstation sink is higher than standard sinks of the same size and material, but the value makes up for the higher price.
Home offices and classrooms are rapidly becoming the norm, and the kitchen is often the perfect spot for desk space or a mini-home office.Having a little office space is essential to the multipurpose kitchen. Your workstation can be as simple as an IKEA desk tucked in a corner. A section of lower countertop space with room for a chair to slide under it is a popular option. You might want a more spacious work nook with built-in shelves and drawers if you work from home full-time.
Pros and Cons. The upside of a kitchen workspace is multitasking and making great use of your kitchen area. The concern is that work requiring focused concentration might not mix with the kitchen busyness of large households.
Tea and Coffee Station
This kitchen upgrade can be as simple as a wire cart fromAmazon with a Keurig coffee maker and as extravagant as a built-in bar well-equipped with a coffee maker, hot water dispenser, espresso machine, and cabinet space for storing supplies.
Pros and Cons. The station allows everyone to choose their favorite hot drink. And every cup is fresh. The only disadvantage is the loss of space it requires versus using existing counter space.
Open shelf space is a trend in all kitchen designs. What goes on the shelving is guided by how you use the space. Choose the location of open shelf space based on what you will store there and who can reach it. Open shelves must be kept neat and uncluttered, or they become detrimental to a peaceful kitchen. Trending materials are nicely textured wood shelves with light staining. The look is organic and natural with a touch of rustic. Green tones remain popular. Choose the color and style that blends best with the rest of your kitchen.
Pros and Cons. Open shelves make access easy – a plus for a busy adult reaching for a small appliance, but a negative when curious toddlers are doing the same and the shelving is low. On the other hand, if the family gathers in the kitchen, and you want books, games, and toys within easy reach of little hands, a few open shelves below a countertop are ideal.
The multifunction kitchen needs multipurpose lighting. Bright light is essential for food preparation. Tone it down for cleanup, and when the chores are done, and the kitchen is used for lounging and conversation, softer lighting is perfect. Versatile kitchen lighting can be brightened or dimmed with an intelligent light switch controlled by an app, smart assistant, or voice command. Of course, old-school rheostats are still available, but wiring costs are high and unnecessary with your smart options.
Bold fixtures, what some call statement fixtures, especially those with round designs, are our top picks. Brass highlights are embraced by some designers, while others say they are on the way out. We leave it to your preference, but if you’re asking us, we would avoid brass in favor of wood, wood tones, or silver, depending on the best fit for your kitchen.
Pros and Cons. Lighting flexibility allows you to choose the light level and set the mood for what is taking place in the space. Sometimes, tech trouble or a user’s lack of familiarity with intelligent equipment causes hassles if there is a downside.
Skylights, garden windows, and glass wall sections are beautiful ways to bring natural light into the kitchen. A garden window doubles as an opportunity to beautify the kitchen with natural plants. And you can grow herbs or start tomato plants too. A glass wall is a must.
Pros and Cons. Natural light reduces energy costs considerably. Anywhere you have openings in the wall structure (and that’s what these are) the room’s overall energy efficiency drops due to heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Consult a window specialist and select the insulated glazing best suited to your climate for best results.
Merging Indoors and Outdoors
The trend here is to tie in the two realms to create a seamless transition. And, of course, it is best suited to a kitchen with a beautiful view of natural surroundings rather than a busy street or neighbor’s garage.This upgrade makes any kitchen feel more spacious and gives you a sense of connection with nature. This trend can be accomplished with any combination of fixed and operational windows and panels. Movable glass wall panels are available too, but they are costly.
Pros and Cons. The benefit is a healthier perspective when the great outdoors can be easily seen and enjoyed. The upfront cost and a loss of energy efficiency are concerns.
Waterproof Wood Flooring
Wood makes excellent flooring, but water is its nemesis. Here is a solution that’s gaining a lot of attention this year. Waterproof engineered hardwood is manufactured by several names you’d know, including Bruce and Pergo. The top layer is a veneer of genuine hardwood sealed against moisture penetration. The core is typically fully waterproof, either a stone polymer core (SPC) or wood polymer core (WPC) fully encapsulated in the waterproof coating. Wood flooring trends include broader and longer planks, lighter colors, heavily textured wood, and low-gloss finishes.
Pros and Cons. Instead of fake wood-like laminate or luxury vinyl, you can have a natural hardwood surface for your floors. Wow.