Q. We're completely gutting our kitchen. What should we incorporate into our new kitchen to keep on top of the latest trends? (Cheryl in Miami, FL)
A. Cheryl, our first kitchen redo recommendation is to spend serious money on high-quality details and materials. Avoid fake anything, like ceramic tile that is made to look like wood grain or terra cotta.
Many of our clients live and die by their countertop and backsplash selections. It can be very stressful for them! They see neighbors with black granite countertops, and they have to have them, too. We don't believe a kitchen can be made or broken on this selection alone. In fact, we love more humble materials like Formica and Corian. They can be great fun and offer excellent, easy-to-clean food prep surfaces. Our favorite materials are recycled or more "green" and eco-friendly composites like Silestone and CaesarStone (and many others).
We also applaud green flooring materials, like cork, bamboo, linoleum, and others. For green materials you can incorporate in your new kitchen, go to a website like www.greenpeople.org or www.ecoproducts.com and search for the materials you are looking for.
Many of our clients are having a love affair with steamer ovens. The combination of a steamer and an oven, in a handy built-in combination wall unit, is a trend we love to support for the great cooking results. Fish and meat retain their moisture while skins can brown and crisp better. The added humidity to the cooking process is excellent, and clients report that veggies are delicious. They retain their color and nutrients, won't dry out, and their exteriors can be made soft or crunchy. Gaggenau (the model pictured here), Miele, and Kuppersbusch make good steamer ovens. The Neff Slide & Hide Steam Oven also has some nifty features and 14 different cooking modes.
Go to the iVillage GardenWeb Home Forums at http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/ to check out homemaker blogs and recommendations for all the latest appliances and other kitchen decorating advice.
Here are a few other "trends" that really aren't so trendy that we can highly recommend for your kitchen, Cheryl:
- Built-in coffee machines like the Brew Express
- Dual-fuel ovens, combining gas and electric benefits
- Warming drawers (both 27 and 30 inch wide)
- Drawer-style 18-inch dishwashers
- Smaller or bigger dishwashers (the standard is 24 inches, but you can get 18 or 30 inch models now)
- Incorporating two refrigerators into your kitchen, a small one near the breakfast area for milk, juice, and snacks; a larger one with the usual plethora of items nearer to your food prep
- Small appliances specifically tailored to small kitchens and apartments
- Disguised appliances, with exterior facings that match your kitchen paneling and molding
- Fun and funky hiding placess for appliances (example: Liberace put a microwave in an armoire)
- Undercounter lighting using Little Inch fluorescent lights from Alkeo (they save energy and light up prep surfaces with lower temperature; halogen undercabinet lighting tends to be very hot and heats up your kitchen cabinets)