A lot of extras got added: Homeowners would fill large kitchens with two dishwashers, two sinks, wine coolers, warming ovens and other extras. They applied wood flourishes in European styles to their cabinets and range hoods and made granite a must-have for countertops. You’d get the money back and then some on resale, the thinking went.
But in these economically stressed times, when home prices haven’t appreciated much, the kitchen remodel has taken on a more streamlined approach to reflect the era.
Top kitchen designers in the area recommend homeowners consider this trend when planning improvements to get the most return on their investments. Their expert advice starts with an efficient floor plan for the kitchen.
“If the layout doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on the appliances and cabinets,” says kitchen designer Nadia Subaran of Aidan Design in Bethesda.
Think inside the box
As the economy has shrunk, so has the size of a kitchen renovation, according to several kitchen designers. “People are realizing that they don’t need a huge kitchen for it to be efficient and comfortable,” says Bethesda kitchen specialist Jennifer Gilmer. Just a few years ago, she was creating big spaces filled with two of everything — sinks, ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers — and tons of cabinets. “That is considered wasteful by the younger generation,” notes Gilmer. “Now people are doing simpler renovations within the existing space rather than adding on.”
Even without expanding, the kitchen can become more spacious with the right moves. “You can increase square footage and functionality by incorporating smaller spaces around the kitchen such as a closet, butler pantry or bathroom,” says Gaithersburg kitchen designer Davida Rodriguez. “Taking down walls between a breakfast room and kitchen gives that great room effect without having to bust out.”
Making the case for the smaller-is-better approach is the bright, clean-lined kitchen at the back of the Bethesda home owned by retired attorney Gwenn Hibbs. “My two big concerns in renovating were flow and light in the room,” says Hibbs. She hired Subaran of Aidan Design to transform the 11-by-17.5-foot space with new Shaker-style cabinets, white marble countertops and a light-reflective backsplash of glass tiles. A new bay window over the sink brings in more daylight.
Subaran improved the flow by extending 30 inches of counter space into the adjacent family room and reconfiguring the peninsula to create seating for two. “I no longer spend 50 percent of my time navigating around the old U-shaped peninsula,” says Hibbs. “The additional space between counters also allows two or even three people to prep and cook without running into each other.”