8. MAXIMIZED SPACE
The trend toward organizing and simple lines is forcing kitchen designers to use every inch of space as efficiently as possible. It starts with the frameless look and extends to pullout drawers in the cabinets that allow the whole 24-inch depth to be used rather than just the front, spacious refrigerated beverage drawers in the island, and pullout spice racks as narrow as 3 inches in what once might have been dead space. “There shouldn’t be any cabinet that’s just a door that opens with a shelf inside anymore,” says Kollias, who also favors roll-out storage under banquet seating. “It should all do something.”
9. STATE-OF-THE-ART APPLIANCES
To amateur chefs and busy home cooks, beautiful designs are nice but will always play second fiddle to appliances. For them, we’ve saved the best for last:
> Built-in Espresso Machines Your mother’s white-plastic Mr. Coffee just doesn’t cut it anymore. The latest machines, plumbed right into the water source, are pricey but give the family barista steamed milk, espresso, latte, cappuccino, hot chocolate, and, oh yeah, freshly ground coffee at the touch of a button.
> New Finishes “Stainless is still king,” says Briggs. “No question about that.” But there are more options than ever in appliance colors, so if you’re looking to make a statement, you’ll have no shortage of choices, particularly at higher price points. Several manufacturers are making matte black appliances, which fit well with contemporary design. Sleek glass appliances are making inroads, with Whirlpool’s White Ice and Black Ice versions, out this summer starting at $599, being touted as “the new stainless” by websites, including proudgreenhome.com. Rubbed bronze appliances are also available, notably from Jenn-Air, and would work well alongside the newer copper sinks and warmer hardware metals.
Another option is a finish that hides the appliance. The concept of cabinet-matching panels on refrigerators and dishwashers is familiar, but today the look has become even more streamlined. The German kitchen manufacturer Poggenpohl, for example, has “panels that match the cabinetry in such a smooth, flat line that it’s really hard to tell the appliances are even there,” according to Briggs.
Finally, enameled appliances come in a huge variety of colors, though the best-known manufacturer of vibrant stoves, Aga, is quite pricey; a slightly more cost-effective line (fridges start at $1,695) comes from Big Chill, a Boulder company that sells not only retro colors from creamy buttercup to vivid orange, but also period-perfect ’50s design.
> Double Ovens Wall-mounted double ovens have been common for decades, but now something new has hit the big-box stores: Check out the double ovens that look just like standard ranges, but have a second oven instead of a bottom drawer for pots and pans. This appliance offers flexibility — you can cook two dishes at once using different temperatures — and energy efficiency, since, for a smaller meal, you can use only the more compact unit. A double oven is two or three times the price of a standard model, but if you plan to stay in your house long-term, it could be worth the investment. Many such ranges, even at the lower end, have a fifth, middle burner and a griddle attachment.
> Warming Drawers These are not a new idea, but with the emphasis on ease and efficiency, they’re becoming increasingly popular. They can proof your dough and crisp your pizza, and they now have timers, so those dinner-party rolls will no longer be forgotten.
> Steam Ovens A must for serious home chefs, steam ovens use steam instead of dry heat to cook foods and can make everything from shrimp to vegetables to super-moist cakes; some, including Miele’s, can brown as well. In many kitchens, they’re replacing microwaves, since steam ovens don’t dry out foods the way microwaves often do. Marshall says she’s a huge fan of the steam oven but adds that, at a cost of around $3,000 for a built-in, “it’s the first thing to go when people find out the price realities.”
> Infrared Broilers Many of today’s higher-end ovens include infrared broilers, which use less energy than traditional broilers and require little or no preheating. “The element is hidden inside the oven’s construction,” says Kollias, “so if you’re cooking a steak on it, it won’t catch fire like it might have in the old days.”
> Induction Cooktops Like frameless cabinets, induction cooking has been around longer than you might have thought; it was introduced to the general public by Frigidaire in the 1950s. Rather than a burning ring or red-hot coils on the stove’s surface, induction uses electromagnetism to heat pans directly. “If your pan is half off the area,” explains Kollias, “that half won’t cook.” The easy-to-clean solid surface stays cool to the touch and, according to Consumer Reports, requires as little as half as much time as a standard range to cook food. Continued...