New recipes for updating the kitchen

By Mary Beth Breckenridge
Saturday, March 5, 2011

What's cooking in kitchens?

Simpler styling, hidden appliances and a bit of color to make life interesting, to name just a few things.

Here are the trends we found:

Clean lines

Fancy is fading.

Kitchens are moving away from ornate looks such as Tuscan and French country in favor of more transitional design, a trend Betty Nairn of Cabinet-S-Top in Granger Township, Ohio, calls "simplistic luxury."

The move toward clean lines and less ornamentation is due in part to homeowners thinking ahead, said Debra Shababy of Studio 76 Kitchens and Baths in Twinsburg, Ohio. Many are looking toward selling their homes as the economy improves, and they want their kitchens to appeal to a broad range of buyers, she said.

Contemporary design is gaining interest, too. Barbara Dillick of Kitchen Design Group in Bath Township, Ohio, figures people have become more comfortable with the spare, sleek look because they've been exposed to it through shelter magazines, TV shows and upscale hotels.

Built-in dining

Eat-in kitchens are still in demand, but where we do that eating has changed. The bar-style counter is still popular, but it's giving way in many new kitchens to an extension of the counter that looks more like a table.

Sometimes the extension is counter height; sometime it's higher or lower. What sets it apart from bar seating is that it's designed so the diners sit around the edge and face one another, rather than sitting in a line.

The idea of trading a table for a counter extension makes some homeowners nervous initially, Kitchen Design Group's Deanna Carleton said. But the setup has advantages: It saves space, the extension can do double duty as an extra buffet surface and the deep base that holds the countertop provides a good amount of storage.

Safety, sustainability

More than ever, consumers are paying attention to the materials that go into their kitchens, Shababy said.

She said many respond positively when she suggests cabinet finishes with low levels of volatile organic compounds, vapors that contribute to indoor air pollution. They also like cabinets that are joined with dowels instead of glues containing formaldehyde.


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