High Style, Utility, and Family Living Play Key Roles in Today’s Kitchen
Traditionally, the kitchen has always been known as the “heart of the home.” That’s where meals are prepared, family members grab a quick bite during the day, and often parents catch up with the kids as the youngsters do homework at the kitchen table.
Today, with the popularity of open floor plans, that sense of the kitchen has never been more true. In an open plan, the living and dining areas typically branch out from the kitchen, which becomes the hub of activity and family life.
The recent 2016 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Survey, unveiled at the recent Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, demonstrates just how important the kitchen is to family life, blurring the lines between functional and living spaces.
- 69% of homeowners eat casual meals and dine more formally in kitchens.
- 60% spend more than three hours per day in the kitchen.
- Almost half use the kitchen to entertain (49%) or socialize (43%).
- 48% of homeowners want their kitchen to be more open to living spaces, and 46% want it completely open.
Here are four important design trends that you should keep in mind as you think about your new kitchen in your house plan – how to make it fit in with modern design tastes and lifestyle while making sure it is as functional and practical as possible.
This large, luxurious kitchen from a 4-bedroom, 2-story Craftsman house plan displays the modern aesthetic of being completely open to living and dining areas (Plan #153-1781).
Top 4 Design Trends in Today’s Kitchen
1. Super Kitchen
The ultimate in open-plan living, the super kitchen is completely open to the rest of the house, with living, family, and often office spaces integrated throughout, so it becomes difficult – almost impossible – to define where the kitchen ends and living space begins. Almost invariably, a space like this will have a kitchen island – or two – to provide space for the activities that will result from this melting pot of living space.
An example of a super kitchen, this space in a 1-story, 5-bedroom Craftsman home plan has no boundaries and integrates seamlessly with the rest of the dwelling, blurring the lines of functionality in the usable space of the house (Plan #161-1042). No walls means open floor plan living, and this kitchen melds into the rest of the house, so it all literally becomes one space, with complete integration, though furniture groupings – like this family table – can define areas for dining, relaxing, entertaining, and the like.
2. U- or L-Shape Floor Plan
The shape of a kitchen’s floor plan goes a long way in determining its accessibility. In keeping with blending into the open floor plan of a house, it is best to use U-shape or L-shape design for the kitchen – and these are the most popular trends. The L-shape, with cabinetry and appliances lining adjacent walls – and often an island or two in close proximity – is perhaps the easiest to incorporate into a home’s living area.
This L-shape kitchen in a 3-bedroom Country-Style Ranch home plan spreads its arms wide open to the adjacent living area. A breakfast/dining space is to the right. (Plan #141-1134).
A 2-story, 2-bedroom Contemporary Craftsman-style home plan houses this U-shape kitchen, open to the dining area in the foreground and great room to the right. The island is positioned parallel with the side walls to allow for easier movement in and through the kitchen (Plan #146-2810).
3. Neutral Colors
Some design trends are trends year after year – for a reason – and the use of neutral colors in kitchens is no exception. Neutral colors in walls and furnishings will stand the test of time. You can create excitement with splashes of color in towels, centerpieces, and other accessories. Shades of gray, beige, and white remain popular, and white and light-wood cabinetry continue to trend.
Just installed (sans appliances), this kitchen in a 3-bedroom, 3-bath Country-style Ranch home plan display trendy white cabinets and light-beige walls. The bead-board-like treatment in the cabinets contributes texture to the design (Plan #141-1175).
4. Double Islands
With the added activity that results from opening the kitchen to the rest of the house comes a need for “horizontal space” without crowding the area with bulky tables or other furniture with just one function. That’s where installing two islands pays off. Typically, one island becomes the food-prep area – typically the provenance of an island – and the other provides multi-use seating/eating/homework/entertaining space. This is especial/y useful for large eat-in kitchens, where tables and chairs can get in the way reduce traffic flow.
Are two islands better than one? In a large open-plan kitchen like this from a 2-story, 6-bedroom Craftsman home plan, yes! The island in the foreground is for eating, entertaining, and other activities – in addition to overflow food prep – as distinct from the darker work island, which also accommodates seating. (Plan #161-1044).
Now that you have more of a handle on the role of the new open-plan kitchen – and the trends that define it – put pencil to paper and noodle your own design to fit into your new home plans or remodel!