October 29, 2009
Perfect your kitchen craft and know the latest trends in the home’s most utilized room
To cook or not to cook, that is the question — but regardless of the answer, the kitchen will always be the heart of the home. Outfitting the kitchen actually takes up a considerable chunk of the budget in building a home and, by and large, is the most important room where a family can feel like, well, a family.
It is also the place to entertain — whether it’s just a few friends and relatives or a slam-bang party with 50-plus people — having a kitchen that works in maintaining the flow of conversation, and meal preparation, is essential.
“The kitchen traditionally is where you start to make the house a home,” says Legacy Kitchens design consultant Michael Burr. “It is the one room in the house where all the family can gather to start the day at breakfast and end the day with dinner, after which each goes their own way.”
It is also where most socializing is done, where you are certain to entertain company. Even when it’s at its busiest, when people are cooking preparing for a party, it’s the one place where conversation never comes to a standstill. The success of all those cooking shows just seems to bear this fact out.
“It is also the one area where people first judge a home, where it is essential to look beautiful and remain functional — that is true for all of the home, but especially more so in the kitchen,” Burr adds.
This is why the open design main floor found in many of today’s new homes and condos have become so popular, says Shaun Ford, lead designer and president of Shaun Ford Design. “The kitchen goes a long way in establishing the character of the home and having a wide open floor plan allows the kitchen to take centre stage.”
Mark Danson of Poggenpohl Alberta agrees. “Nowadays, the kitchen trend is leaning more towards a lifestyle choice rather than just a place to cook. It used to be that people didn’t put much thought in designing a kitchen just a collection of drawers, a stove and a fridge and that was it, but now this is the place where you can ‘wow’ your friends.”
Functionality is foremost
Any kitchen is nothing, however, if it is not functional, even if you don’t cook. “There still has to be a sense of symmetry, a form-follows-function aesthetic,” Ford points out.
While Burr says that any kitchen design has to start first with the question: how is it going to be used? “You have to know what you will need the kitchen for — is it going to be a busy workplace, is it going to be more for entertaining, how many people are going to be working around it, how much storage space are you going to need - and then design accordingly.”
Having a lot of counter space always helps, so whether it’s an L-shaped, U-shaped or galley kitchen, having countertops as wide as possible works best. Innovative centre island designs help as well.
“This gives you extra room to work on, provides more storage space underneath, and there are some designs that allow you to put the dishwasher, the microwave and even wine racks in the island and preserve the design flow of the kitchen,” Burr says.
With functionality also must come the ease by which the kitchen can be maintained. “We have a lot of high-gloss products for the cabinetry that not only gives a contemporary style to the kitchen but are easy to clean as well,” Burr adds.
Calgary does still have a reputation as a cowboy town, and certainly lags behind coastal cities like Toronto and Vancouver when it comes to incorporating a more modern approach to kitchen design. But that is slowly changing, as more and more sleek, contemporary kitchen designs make their way through to Calgary homes.
Ford says his company, which specializes in stylish European designed kitchens, has been really busy this past year. “When we came out in February it was the height of the recession when every business was going sideways, but I’m happy to say that we’ve had our hands full filling orders.”
Poggenpohl Alberta has also been as fortunate. “We may have a reputation as an ultra-high-end kitchen design company, but our products actually range across the whole market. What I like to compare it with is to cars, we have everything from a Volkswagen, to a BMW, to a Bentley, from the purely functional to the ultra-luxurious,” Danson says.
Burr says they have noticed the modern design trend at Legacy as well, but what has been popular with them is the “transitional” style. “Basically, it’s what bridges the modern and the traditional, it’s a midway point where you can still have a modern feel but not to be so out-there.”
A lot of flat panel, high-gloss lacquer cabinets are being used with slim, brushed nickel pulls for that sleek, shiny look, complemented by clean-lined countertops. Granite and marble tops are still popular but Corian, quartz stone, concrete and even glass models have been selling as well. “A lot of them match the countertops with the backsplash to achieve an even cleaner look,” Ford says.
Shaun Ford Design has been successful with its Modulnova and Effeti product line. Both are directly imported from Italy and they represent the most cutting edge brands in modular European cabinetry. “I’m a minimalist in my taste, I adhere to the less-is-more theory,” he says.
New from them is the Varrena line also from Italy. Part of this line is an Alea kitchen featuring Wenge veneered base cabinetry, and corda high gloss lacquered tall units; finished with stainless steel countertops, matching plinth, and Varenna hood fan.
Germany’s Poggen Pohl, which Danson says is the top kitchen designer in the world, offers the Porsche Design P’7340, which like everything else Porsche exudes luxury and efficiency, with quartz and wood combination countertops, custom-made Miele applian ces, and even a built-in TV with fancy LED lighting.
Creating the kitchen of your dreams — whether conventional, classical, contemporary or cutting-edge — is easier than before; all you need is some planning and maybe a little skill with the skillet. NL