by Janice Henshaw –
Have you ever seen a kitchen that is so beautiful in design and function that it almost takes your breath away? And when you return home, you look at your kitchen and think, hmmm, where do I start? Is it OK just to change the floor in the kitchen area? Can I repaint the cabinets myself? Would a new countertop add some “pop?” If so, what’s the best choice for my kitchen?
I thought it might be fun to invite some experts in kitchen design – an architect, a builder, and two interior designers – to share some current trends and, also, to find out what their dream kitchens would look like!
I first asked architect Silvia M. Bonet, a partner in Finlayson Bonet Architecture, if home design has been affected as kitchens become more of a focal point for entertaining. SMB: “I believe there has been a change in the way we socialize – people are enjoying cooking and relaxing together in what is now called the ‘great room.’ The proliferation of cooking shows has instilled a zest in us for making our own meals, venturing into more varied ethnic foods, and enjoying them with friends.
“Back in the ’50s, the kitchen was segregated from the dining room, but in contemporary living, the kitchen is fully integrated with the eating and entertainment area. The ‘great room’ is the combination of ‘the making, consuming, and relaxing.’
“Some homeowners like the integration but they also like to maintain a subtle separation. Contemporary homes have more efficient layouts, the open space is trendy but also efficient, it looks more spacious with fewer walls partitioning spaces, and the sense of openness helps to make a smaller space look more expansive.
“We still have big houses to design but there is a new consciousness about the impact that buildings have in the environment. In addition, the high cost of land encourages us to look for innovative solutions to the housing issues and reduce unit sizes in favour of more residential units. In custom-built homes there are two trends: large houses, or energy efficiency in more moderate dimensions.”
Are grey and white kitchens here to stay for quite a while longer? And secondly, what would you include in your dream kitchen? SMB: “I don’t know how much longer they will be around, but I still like them! My dream kitchen has a large open counter so I can roll out dough for pastries! And it has a double oven so that I can have a full five-course dinner in them. I also like a floor to ceiling wall that contains a pantry, fridge and ovens. The counter is built close by so cold or hot dishes can be easily transferred to it.”
Next, I asked Barrett F. Smith, of Barrett F. Smith Construction, about kitchen cabinets that need updating. Old oak cabinets that have developed a bit of a yellow hue – can they be repainted? BFS: “I would not recommend painting old kitchen cabinets unless it’s a DIY project. If you have to pay a painter to sand and refinish your cabinetry, you might be a third of the way to buying new ones.”
What’s hot in countertops these days, and what type of countertop would you recommend? BFS: “Quartz! It seems to have about 70% plus of the market, and it is superior to granite in its durability. However, quartz does lack the natural beauty feel of granite. I would estimate that granite has 20% of the market and laminate (a durable decorative veneer) makes up the balance. The beauty of quartz is it wears so well, you could dump motor oil on it and it would clean right up.”
When you build or remodel a kitchen what elements do you like to include? BFS: “I like kitchens that have an island, and peninsulas with overhangs for a breakfast bar. I prefer flat panel cabinetry because it has a clean look and doesn’t collect dust and kitchen grease. Under cabinet lighting is a must! And skylights wherever possible.”
Interior designer Wendy White, of Trudi Jones Interior Design, shared current trends in kitchen design and also gave an example of how she incorporated stained glass windows into a new home. WW: “After seeing so much white in kitchens, we will see more saturated colour on kitchen cabinets, at least on lower cabinetry, with lighter cabinets above. High contrast kitchens using dark grey, even black, paired with white are another look that we may see more of, as are the dark steel appliances – sleek and beautiful.”
What type of flooring is your personal favourite and how can we add drama to our floors? WW: “I love polished radiant heated concrete flooring; it’s especially attractive because the colour can be customized. With an open floor kitchen concept, though, transitions in flooring need to be carefully considered. Generally, flow through the spaces is achieved using the same flooring throughout. To create a dramatic effect, I would incorporate upper cabinet lighting and LED strip lighting below the lower cabinets to make the floor glow.”
Wendy, do you have a dream kitchen in mind? WW: “Yes! My dream kitchen would be large enough to have an ‘L’ or ‘T’ shaped island for dining and to add interest, an ocean view. Using beautiful materials, I would design it with high contrast – one idea would be concrete flooring with a wood butcher block island. The backsplash would be tempered glass, and I would have flat profile cabinets with gold, bronze, or copper brushed metal accents for warmth. There would be layered lighting on dimmers for different tasks and lots of efficient storage.”
Andi Hook, Interior Designer/Partner in Hook & Hook Renovations & Design Inc., loves to include technology in her kitchen designs. AH: “I love technology; if my client wants gadgets, I’m more than happy to do the research and incorporate them in the design. I’m always upgrading my design software and knowledge to stay up to date.”
What colours do you like for kitchens? Are white and grey changing to other top picks or contrasts? “I love contrast in almost everything; contrast adds interest, and our eyes don’t get bored so easily … although on the other end of the spectrum, an all-white kitchen can make a great impact if it’s done correctly with different textures.”
Andi, what lovely features would you include if you were designing a kitchen for yourself? AH: “My dream kitchen would be crisp with a mid-century flare. It would have white oak floors, and flat panel cabinets finished in matte white or black depending on the light and size of the space. There would be as few upper cabinets as possible. Instead, I would have white oak or glass shelving framed with black iron. I would design a large island or two islands, with Caesarstone Cloudburst Concrete countertops. The backsplash would be simple with possibly a pop of colour and gold accents. And tons of natural and accent lighting.”
Great ideas, all! Thank you to our kitchen design experts. It certainly makes it easier if we can enlist their help in creating a beautiful kitchen space. And even if our dream kitchen is still a long way off in the future, we can still enjoy the aromatic and spicy mix of love, laughter and time spent together in our family “hub” that makes a house a home!