Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).
A Dozen Ways to Make Kitchens Sizzle
Whether they’re getting their house ready for the market or creating a dream kitchen in a home they just bought, clients considering a major kitchen redo will need guidance. Here are 12 tips and trends to help you serve as their resource.
April 24, 2014
Home buyers and sellers planning a kitchen redo have a lot of questions they need answered: What style of cabinets are in? What’s the newest color for countertops? What appliances should I install when there are so many? How do I ensure that my kitchen will be a gathering hub?
The cost of redoing a kitchen is on the rise, averaging $109,000 for an upscale renovation and $55,000 for a mid-range transformation, according to the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report. You can serve as a much-needed resource for clients, advising them on the dos and don’ts when considering a kitchen remodel and helping them identify improvements within their budget.
We asked some favorite kitchen pundits, including John Petrie, president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association and his firm, Mother Hubbard’s Custom Cabinetry in Mechanicsburg, Pa., about everything from paint to hardware to snazzy light fixtures.
Experts say the following dozen trends are generating the hottest buzz in kitchens this year:
1. Safety first. No matter how stunning a kitchen looks or how well it functions, it won’t make one iota of difference if fire occurs. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Home owners have multiple ways to guarantee safety, such as paying full attention when cooking, knowing to smother a flame with a lid if a fire starts, and knowing how to operate a fire extinguisher properly.
When considering a kitchen renovation, clients should consider additional safety systems, such as Guardian Safety Solutions International Inc.’s fire suppression system that turns off a range to prevent reignition.
Design choices can also help curb accidents, such as ovens placed within easy reach of all family members, tactile floors to avoid falls, and good illumination.
If your clients prefer some texture, materials like brick warm up a space with a handcrafted look. Try applying it to novel areas — how about on the ceiling?
6. Quartz is the new granite. Because of its ubiquity, due in part to so many imports and lower prices, granite has lost star power. What’s taking its place is quartz, which is similar to quartzite; it’s easier to maintain and affordable (though not always as inexpensive as the least expensive granite), and it offers a less-fussy patterned appearance to suit contemporary styles. For home owners who still love marble for its old-fashioned cachet yet fear its porosity and stainability, there are quartzes that are difficult to differentiate, particularly from white Carrera marble.
Here are some examples of appliance trends:
- Microwave drawers that are easier for all generations to reach than those placed above a range or cooktop.
- Induction cooktops that heat up and cool down faster, saving energy. Their higher prices may deter some, as may their need for higher amps, says Shirley Hood, appliance salesperson and spokesperson for Abt Electronics and Appliances in Glenview, Ill.
- More powerful gas range burners that offer higher output, even 18,000 BTUs.
- French-door style refrigerators that make it easier to view contents when doors are opened, they’re now available from some manufacturers with four doors.
- Hot-water dispensers on refrigerator doors.
- Refrigerator drawers, which can be located anyplace in a kitchen or family room for easy access and let family members get to fresh foods without crowding the main work zone.
- Beverage centers and wine coolers that are placed strategically at points of use.
- Integrated appliances, better camouflaged behind panels to dress up open-style kitchens.
- Faucets that conserve water and have touchless controls.
- Long, deep, one-bowl sinks, sometimes with cutting boards to conserve space.
- Smaller appliances that fit into smaller condos and homes.
- Built-in coffee makers fully in view. Everyone wants to be a barista!
8. Drawers beneath countertops rather than doors. Rather than have to go through a two-step process of opening below counter cabinets and reaching into and rummaging through shelves, drawers that pull out and present all their contents are taking hold. The one downside: These shelves aren’t adjustable as are those in many cabinets.
11. Look, ma, no desk. Due to the trend of using smaller personal electronic devices—computers, tablets, phones—fewer homeowners need a separate desk. Nowadays, a designated counter with several outlets, sometimes concealed, becomes the go-to charging station replacing a desk.
Sources: Charles B. Clark Jr., vice president of engineering services at the Brick Industry Association, Reston, Va.; Jeffrey Collé, Estates by Jeffrey Collé, East Hampton, N.Y.; Dan Hechtkopf and Reid Heidenry, South Beach Investment Realty, Miami Beach, Fla.; Shirley Hood, marketing, ABT Electronics and Appliances, Glenview, Ill.; Claudia Juestel, Adeeni Design Group, San Francisco; John Petrie, president, Mother Hubbard’s Custom Cabinetry, Mechanicsburg, Pa..; Kristin Petro, Kristin Petro Interiors, Elmhurst, Ill.