Mar 9, 2008

New trends in the kitchen

By: Kathleen Dore
Style at Home
Mar 9, 2008

New trends in the kitchen

By: Kathleen Dore

Suit yourself
From dark and dramatic to bold and beautiful, it's your choice when it comes to kitchen cabinetry. The result: there's no overriding must-have look for the kitchen, but there are mini-trends. Lovers of modern style are embracing colour: glossy lacquers of stoplight red, bright green and true blue are preferred by brave hearts. For those leaning to more transitional contemporary style, dark woods accented with stainless steel are chic and sophisticated. What's on the long-range trend forecast? European trade shows are showing an increasing number of traditional-style kitchens, and if it's happening in Europe (the continent that loves modern), it'll just be a matter of time before the past is au courant on our shores too.

Curves ahead
Could the circle be the shape of things to come in the kitchen? From curved cabinetry doors to round islands, the minimalism of modern kitchens gets a friendlier feel when blunt, straight edges are softened into curvaceous lines. Very Star Trek.

Hot and steamy
Nutritious and delicious: Turns out that healthy food doesn't mean sacrificing a sophisticated palate after all. Cooking with steam allows foodies to enjoy good food in gourmet style. Now the trend has trickled down from full-size, more pricey steam ovens to more accessible countertop options.

Top drawers
This is a two-in-one trend: that's how hot drawers are. First, savvy consumers are insisting on top-quality drawer guides (the actual hardware) for durability as well as inner organizing systems for functionality. Now there's customized storage for everything from linens to recycling materials to dishware to food. The second trend story on drawers is the dramatic increase in how many appliance manufacturers are designing their appliances to fit into drawers, including refrigerated, dishwasher, warming and even microwave drawers. This trend satisfies the desire that consumers have for an uncluttered, fully customized and integrated kitchen with multiple zones for food prep and storage.

The great pretenders
What's new in countertops? At the higher end, composites are giving granite competition. While the natural beauty of stone will always be a draw, composites like Corian's Zodiaq and Cosentino's Silestone – made from quartz particles and a synthetic binding element – have the properties of granite (such as strength, durability and heat-resistance) but offer more choice in colour and finishes and a guaranteed consistency in appearance. But the real news is that laminates are looking great in today's market. Their more natural-looking appearance and more sophisticated details – like ogee trim – give laminates an edge over other granite imposters: price.

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Fast food
When it comes to dinner, we want it and we want it now. But busy lives mean not a lot of time for cooking, so manufacturers are coming up with increasingly quick ways to cook healthy food. The only thing that will cook dinner faster than the new wave of induction cooktops, high-speed ovens and full-size microwaves is your favourite takeout deli.

Go for green
From the actual colour to nature's influences in decor, from waste-management systems to more efficient appliances, green is the new staple ingredient in smart kitchen design. More efficient appliances (that cook fast so they're on for less time or are actually smaller – even electric kettles – so they use less energy) are especially hot.

Hands off
Electronic touchless faucets are now readily available in the marketplace. Since no bacteria are left lurking on taps, they're perfect during food preparation and cleanup. The water runs only when it's needed, so you don't waste the precious resource.

One bowl or two?
For country lovers, the farmhouse apron sink is an icon with timeless appeal, while hip urban types go for the huge restaurant-style single stainless. Both looks showcase the trendy style of large single-bowl sinks. But the truth is, most home renovators opt for the best of both worlds: the one-and-a-half is an enduring trend that offers the functionality of a large bowl without sacrificing a second separate bowl.

Single and sexy
Still hot (next to hands-free technology) is the single-lever faucet. The newest styles are super-sleek. Stainless steel is a finish that's trendy, in addition to the perennially popular chrome.

Concern for safe, clean water supplies and a desire not to send oodles of plastic containers to landfills have led more and more homeowners to invest in home water-filtration systems. There are plenty of options – from systems that are integrated into the refrigerator or at the sink, or new and attractive countertop models.

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New trends in the kitchen