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Kitchen Remodeling Hits the Big Time

  • By: Andie

  • Kitchen Remodeling Hits the Big Time

    ARA) - Nearly five million kitchens will be remodeled in the U.S. this year, an increase of more than 10 percent over 1999, according to a survey of 20,000 consumers by Kitchen and Bath Business magazine. And, according to the survey, these remodelers know exactly what they want in their kitchens - luxury items.

    "Most kitchen remodelers are experienced cooks. They've lived in one or two previous kitchens and know what they love and hate," said Joan McCloskey, Better Homes and Gardens Executive Building Editor. "These remodelers are very discriminating about style, durability, features, price and performance on every element that comprises a kitchen. They may make tradeoffs to keep their budget in line, but they'll sacrifice to gain some of the luxury items that bring life to a kitchen."

    If luxury is what consumers want in the kitchen, then what constitutes luxury? Following is a list of the top 10 most requested kitchen items to create the ultimate Epicurean's dream space.

    Great Appliances
    Rather than standard, four-burner stoves, consumers are turning to a host of other options to prepare food quickly and efficiently. One of the most popular appliances to hit the market is a combination gas cook top with an electric oven underneath. With this appliance, the home chef gets the best of both worlds. Another new choice for quick food preparation is a microwave that uses radiant or halogen light. Appliance manufacturers claim these microwaves can cook food twice as fast as a regular microwave. There are even barbecue grills, wok burners and steamers making their way onto the cooking scene. Another new item making a name for itself in the luxury kitchen is the warming drawer that keeps food warm for those families putting up with after-school sports or long hours at the office. And, as far as the trend in decor goes, the commercial stainless steel look for appliances is still what's hot in today's kitchens.

    Multi-Cook Centers
    Two sinks, two cook centers, two refrigerators - all of these "twos" are becoming commonplace in the dream kitchen. With the popularity of cooking ever increasing - just note the celebrity status of TV chefs these days - these dual cook center areas provide plenty of space for both staging meals and entertaining. Most of these seconds are appearing on kitchen islands and serve as a dual workspace. Though most second appliances are not as large, they do serve their own purpose in the luxury kitchen. For instance, rather than a full refrigerator, the second unit in the home may be an under-the-counter model used for wines and beverages. The second sink may also be much smaller, featuring just a single bowl, but is a welcome addition for cleaning vegetables or preparing drinks.

    Water Filtration Systems
    Americans are more concerned about the quality of their water than ever before - hence the rapid increase of filtering systems in the kitchen. While these have included pitchers, faucet attachments and under-the-counter types, the fastest growing trend is filtering faucets. These offer the most convenient and most elegant method to get better tasting water. For instance, Moen Incorporated offers three filtering faucet systems in its PureTouch line for making better tasting sauces, mixes and drinks. These models take out lead, chlorine and cysts. Another convenience that is a must in any kitchen - luxury or not - is a pullout faucet. Pullout spout faucets provide the ability to both clean the four corners of the sink and fill up large pots. And many come in dramatic styles and finishes to complement any kitchen decor.

    Kitchen Island
    Anyone who has ever lived in a house with a kitchen island will never be without one again. That's why it is one of the most requested items in a remodel project and a definite selling feature for new construction. And, as previously noted, islands with functional items like a bar sink are exactly what consumers want in their luxury kitchen. With the ability to match the island faucet to the main kitchen faucet in terms of style and finish - complete integration of the kitchen is possible. Plus, with the main counter space usually cluttered with small appliances such as mixers, toasters, and can openers, having a separate work area is an added benefit. Islands with seating capacity are also doubling as an area for doing homework and for quick, less formal meals - replacing the old "breakfast nook." If a kitchen island cannot be added because of space limitations, homeowners may opt for a rolling work cart that provides extra counter space when needed and can be rolled back into a corner when not in use.

    According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, solid surface countertops are used in 40 percent of all professionally designed kitchens. The reason? They hold up extremely well in the high-traffic kitchen area and also provide a durable surface resistant to scratches and scuffs. For higher-end kitchens, granite countertops are the material of choice. As an alternative, there are also a host of solid surfacing options, which imitate the look of granite at a lower cost. Another exotic item popping up in today's luxury kitchen is the concrete countertop. They are "earthy" in appearance and certainly make a statement. However, they too, can be expensive and porous as a kitchen material - and you have to watch out if you drop a glass or dish!

    Composite Sinks
    Move over vitreous china or commonplace stainless, for many of today's luxury kitchens feature sinks in customized colors, composite materials and unique bowl configurations. Homeowners are demanding style as well as sinks that will stand the test of time with resistance to normal wear and tear. To provide both durability and beauty, manufacturers have now designed composite sinks. For example, MoenStone sinks from Moen are made from high-strength, molded composite materials that are produced to withstand everyday cuts, scratches, scuffs, stains and even heat from hot cookware. Available in a number of solid colors including the latest Sapphire and Yellow Stone and even natural stone textures, these sinks blend beautifully with all types of countertops, and can be installed in either over- or under-mount configurations.

    Hand-Painted Tiles & Backsplashes
    Looking for something to truly make your kitchen unique? How about turning it into a personalized work of art with hand-painted tiles and backsplashes. Easy to install, these tiles can be used as a decorative border or intermixed with the rest of the kitchen tiles to create a pattern. Fruits, flowers or even animal designs are now gracing the luxury kitchen with their presence. Not only do these hand-painted items provide for an imaginative touch of fun, they also show off the homeowner's personality.

    Cabinetry can account for up to one-half of the new or remodeled kitchen budget, and can include a lot more than shelves or cupboard doors. Decora, a leading manufacturer of semi-custom cabinetry, notes that some of the latest styles of cabinetry mimic the look of furniture with bun feet or freestanding units in the European style. Other cabinet lines, like Schrock, are also adding decorative elements such as plate racks, carvings, special trim and apothecary drawers to their offerings. Upper glass cabinets are being used for displaying fine china and crystal. And personalization in the cabinetry category can even be found in hardware - from knobs shaped like forks to ladybugs - it's all available to create a unique look. And finally, the makers of Aristokraft cabinets report that as the kitchen becomes an extension of the great room, some non-traditional items such as banquettes or desks are making their way into custom cabinetry selections.

    Storage Areas
    One thing almost all consumers who are remodeling or constructing a kitchen are requesting is more - and personalized - storage space. This includes: cabinets with rollout shelves to make food and cooking utensil storage easy; specialized storage areas for spices, pot lids, knives, dish cloths; pegged holders for plates; or corner "appliance garages" to hide coffee makers and toasters when not in use. The size of the kitchen is expanding too, as walk-in pantries now allow for a variety of storage options, particularly as Americans are buying more items in bulk.

    Luxury Design Options
    So far we have discussed some of the items that truly make the kitchen luxurious and customized, but what about overall kitchen design options? Today's kitchens feature larger dining areas, walls of windows, high ceilings and a continuation of the great room. No longer is the eating area separate from the kitchen - integration makes it all one large room that is great for entertaining.
    If you are one of those that will be embarking on a kitchen remodel project over the next few months, use these tips to create a luxurious kitchen that you will truly adore!

    Courtesy of ARA Content

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