Kitchen confidential: 2009 kitchen trends
Once upon a time, kitchens were built in the smallest, darkest room in the house, closed off to prying eyes, lest they see the stack of unwashed dishes in the sink and splattered tomato sauce on the stove. Not anymore. Today, kitchens are being treated like every other room. “I try to make the kitchen one of the most beautiful rooms in the house,” says interior designer Ingrid Oomen of Qummunicate Design. “We spend so much time in the kitchen it makes sense to have it be both functional and beautiful.”
To bring your kitchen out of the dark ages, we spoke with some of our favourite designers to get their bets for the best of 2009.
Divvy up the work space
Kitchens are moving away from the classic appliance triangle and towards work/task areas, says Jeanette Hlinka of Jeanette Hlinka Design. In larger kitchens you’ll find zoned areas, for salad making, baking and cooking, for instance, each with secondary and tertiary appliances to accommodate them, says Jeffrey Douglas, principal of Douglas Design Studio. There’s also a return to bar areas, with wine chillers and built-in coffee systems, adds Tim Mather, owner and senior designer of TM Design.
Hug a tree
Kitchen construction is starting to change as consumers demand more environmentally friendly products. About 80% per cent of cabinetry today is made with regular plywood using toxic glues to hold them together. But low-VOC MDF and low-VOC plywoods are available. “They’re about 20% more expensive and occupy about 20% of the marketplace,” says Jeffrey. “But I think in the next three years it’s going to flip. More and more people are saying they want a low-VOC kitchen, they want to walk into their kitchen and not have it smell new. When you have a low-VOC cabinet, you smell ... air.”
Make room for guests
It’s true what they say – the party always ends up in the kitchen. That’s why contemporary kitchens are being opened up to other rooms in house and are including more comfortable space for guests to hang out. “Our busy lifestyle dictates entertaining and good preparation be done together,” says Ingrid. “This place could be as small as a ledge with a stool off to the side, or as elaborate as a full-sitting area.” Even a simple sofa in the kitchen is enough to get the conversation going. “I’ve always loved a sofa in the kitchen,” say Jeanette. “Not a family room attached to a kitchen. Just a sofa. That feels modern to me.”
“Most people still want an island in the kitchen, which is great for casual family life and for entertaining,” says Steve Suraci, principal of Icarus Designs. A twist on an island is placing a dining table in the middle of the kitchen. “It acts as a prep island and a dining spot and works really well as a casual setting where space is limited and everyone wants to be together,” adds Ingrid.
The industrial look seems to be on its way out, notes Jeanette. Although stainless steel remains a popular choice for its neutrality, many people are opting to conceal some or all of their appliances with panels that match their cabinetry, especially in more contemporary, open kitchens, say both Steve and Tim.
High-gloss cabinetry is making its way into the kitchen, balanced with other elements in a matte finish. Glass is also making a big splash. “It’s durable and shiny, giving the room sparkle, depth and glamour,” says Ingrid. “Clear or natural green glass works well in a neutral kitchen but glass also comes in vibrant colours, which can be incredibly dramatic.”
Whether you’re planning a complete overhaul or simply want to integrate a few new touches, the most important thing to remember, says Jeffrey, is to keep the kitchen warm and welcoming. “It should inspire you to cook and create.”