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Luxury Kitchens: Not Just For Cooking

May 12, 2010

Posted by

Laurie Moore-Moore

Laurie Moore-Moore is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, an international training and membership organization for agents who work in the upper tier. The Institute offers Read more

Today’s luxury kitchens are continuing to evolve from cooking centers into family rooms which can accommodate multiple cooks, family dining, entertaining, and other activities. Here are just a few of the major design trends popping up in multi-purpose luxury kitchens.

Countertops. Kitchen countertops are increasing in mass — think thick — and demand is growing for new surface materials. As granite wanes in popularity, crackle glass, concrete, and wood (with decorative edges) are all moving to the fore as popular countertop materials. Stainless steel counters are still popular in contemporary kitchens. One of the most innovative kitchen counters combines glass with LED lighting. The result is a glowing glass countertop which can be programmed with most any color to match your mood of the moment.

Counters in today’s kitchens may also vary in height to add visual interest and to create work zones for special purposes and for both short and tall cooks. Counters and islands are also increasingly designed to double as serving and dining areas. The big island workspace with plenty of room for gathering round to chat or eat remains at the top of many buyers’ must-have list.

Work zones. As more activities gravitate to the kitchen, designers are building in special purpose areas. A quick food prep station makes simple meal preparation easy. A baking center offers ingredient storage within reach and a counter height designed for chopping, mixing, and rolling. A cleaning zone, coffee bar, and a wine tasting/beverage center are other popular special purpose work zones.

Butler’s pantry. The household butler may largely be a thing of the past, but his pantry remains as an essential feature. It’s diffi cult to fi nd a new luxury home today that hasn’t included additional storage and serving capacity in the form of a butler’s pantry. Generally located between the kitchen and dining room, the butler’s pantry provides lots of room for china, glassware, fl atware, and linen storage.

Sinks. Large farm sinks are a hot trend and multiple sinks continue to be in demand. Water conserving faucets are part of a trend toward eco-friendly kitchens.

Cabinetry. Mid-height cabinetry is a major trend in contemporary kitchens and is beginning to appear in traditional kitchen designs as well. Shorter cabinets may “float” on the wall or incorporate European- style legs and are often used as room dividers, separating the kitchen from otherrooms. In-demand cabinet materials include stainless steel, environmentally-friendly bamboo, pecan or alder wood. Cabinets are customized with interior fi ttings for effi cient storage. Horizontal cabinet doors (sometimes motorized) are another emerging trend. Although the allwhite kitchen is still popular, cabinetry is also showing up in a variety of fi nishes and colors which can give a kitchen the look of a furnished room.

Appliances. Forget the concept of a cooktop, double oven, microwave, dishwasher and a refrigerator creating an adequate kitchen. Today’s cooks want bigger appliances (think room sized refrigerators and SUV-sized ranges) and they want more appliances. Extra dishwashing drawers, elaborate coffee-making appliances, warming drawers, additional ovens, wine coolers may all be part of a luxury kitchen and many of these may be hidden.

The kitchen as art gallery. Some homeowners are using the refrigerator as kitchen art. One Italian design company will silk screen a refrigerator with a bold animal print, your favorite photograph or most any other image.

Electronics. The kitchen is now home to televisions, computers, charging stations, and sound systems. With friends and family gathering in the kitchen, entertainment and information need to be within reach.

Kitchen offices. Luxury homebuyers often want multiple home offi ces. His may be located away from the main living areas of the house. She may prefer an offi ce adjacent to the kitchen where she can manage the household, keep up with children’s schedules and organize her own activities. In some cases, the children’s homework and computer room may be adjacent to the kitchen.

Multiple kitchens. Luxury homeowners often want multiple kitchens. In addition to the primary gourmet kitchen, a catering kitchen may be on the feature list. A mini-kitchen in the bedroom and another in the guest suite provide a convenient place for a midnight snack or that fi rst cup of morning coffee. Of course, what was once the barbeque grill has morphed into a full outdoor kitchen with ice maker, dishwasher, dining area and more. In short, the luxury kitchen in demand today has been transformed from an area for the cooking and staging of meals, to a lifestyle center where owners can gather for a variety of family and entertaining activities.