Kitchen Watch: Trends, Products and Lifestyle Elements
Modern Kitchens Reflect a Desire for Personality, Honest Materials, Healthy Living and Control
The evolution of the modern kitchen has finally hit a design crescendo. The following design directions reflect a greater desire for control, ease, and environmental sensitivity within the home that appears to be increasingly common among a diverse range of homeowners. Whether any or all of the possibilities below fully develop into future design concepts for kitchens or vary a bit — as many trends do — depend on regional influences and budgetary considerations.
Lifestyle at home: Homes have become kitchen-centric, with kitchens serving as a family's venue for leisure, work, and entertaining in addition to its utilitarian roles. Homeowners are willing to devote a greater share of thought, square footage, and budget to design kitchens that will ease this lifestyle integration. Moving forward, designers will seek to create more unified, holistic concepts for lifestyle-inclusive kitchen environments.
Personality-driven design: Many homeowners, not satisfied with cookie-cutter kitchens, are choosing to put a personal stamp on their designs to create unique spaces that showcase their aesthetic preferences and personalities. Consumers are savvier than ever about the options available to them, and they will continue to demand ever-more-personalized designs.
Personality-driven design: Reflecting the kitchen's shift from pure utility to venue for comfort and expression, elements like lighting fixtures, countertops, and hardware are getting the custom treatment with personalized touches, such as countertops embedded with favorite objects or motifs, or whimsical cabinet knobs.
Health and wellness: Going beyond simple conservation of resources, green design in the kitchen now puts a greater emphasis on healthy living. It is primarily driven by the farm-to-table movement and homeowners' desire to live within an environment that supports their families' health.
Health and wellness: Indoor air quality is becoming more important to homeowners, so low- or no-VOC finishes, paints, sealants, and cabinetry materials are increasingly being incorporated into kitchens, as well as ventilation and filtration systems. Also, appliance industry groups currently are developing lifecycle-based sustainability standards for home appliances such as microwaves and refrigerators, which will add a new dimension to appliance performance.
Honest use of materials: Stone's natural veining is highly valued, and finish preferences have shifted toward honed rather than polished, to let the stone's raw texture shine. A wider range of metals is being used, from stainless steel to polished nickel to bronzes and brasses with living finishes.
Honest use of materials: Natural materials are able to retain their own voices in today's kitchens, rather than being muted by unnatural treatments. Wood cabinetry may be painted, but the preference is now for a hand-applied finish that allows brush marks and the material's original grain to show through, for example.
Honest use of materials: Repurposing pieces in the kitchen area is popular, too. A bench that used to sit in an entry area can easily tuck into to a kitchen niche, giving a personal twist over a newly purchased piece.
Technological innovation: As the separation between kitchens and living rooms continues to disappear, homeowners are showing a greater preference for integrating and concealing utilitarian elements such as appliances using the aforementioned natural materials. This will be supported by technological advances.
Technological innovation: Technology also will enable seamless aging-in-place design and the incorporation of electronic displays and control panels, as well as lighting, into kitchen surfaces — countertops in particular. Further product innovations and electronic advances will make wireless/plugless countertop appliance operation a reality.
Ideabook updated on Jan. 5, 2011.
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