What’s in your kitchen? Or, perhaps the question should be: what features are your “must-haves” for the kitchen of your dreams?
About two years ago, some friends and I catered a dinner at a private home whose owner described her kitchen as the best in the city. She wasn’t exaggerating! Her kitchen was truly a dream one that most people who are hunting for, designing, or building their homes would wish for.
It was very spacious, modern, charming and comfortable, open to the living area and the dining room – where she could cook and entertain family and friends at the same time. There was a huge center island with a sink, lots of counter space around the island, a cozy breakfast nook, and a walk-in pantry. Not to mention modern appliances, a wine cooler, and plenty of cabinets for storage needs.
White on gray is the color palette of this stunning kitchen in a 1-story, 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath Contemporary style home with modern touches. Adding to its appeal are the wide windows, light fixtures, state-of-the-art appliances, and a huge kitchen island with a sink (Plan #202-1014).
For me, it was walking inside - and working in – a picture-perfect kitchen.
Many of us have imagined – and sketched - the kitchen in our dream home, from a design layout that’s light-filled, airy, with a smooth flow into the other spaces to the appliances and must-have features. To help you move forward to that dream kitchen design and what you want in it, let’s look at eight kitchen features on The Plan Collection site that you may want to consider for your new home.
1. Nook-Breakfast Area
There’s no better place for quiet “alone time” in the morning or any time of the day than in a cozy and comfortable breakfast nook. Here you can start your day and enjoy your first cup of coffee, tea, juice, or hot chocolate.
More intimate than the dining area, the breakfast nook is for casual meals for a smaller number of people. Ideally situated next to a window to allow the morning sun in, the nook can be a combination of banquettes, built-in booths, chairs, and tables, dimmable light fixtures, and throw pillows to create a homey and relaxing ambiance. The nook can also work as a homework station or a reading spot – especially if there are built-in booths.
Top:As cozy as it can get! A light-filled corner surrounded with warm hues, this nook-breakfast area in the kitchen of a 1-story, 3-bedroom, 2-bath Acadian style home is the perfect spot to enjoy and savor a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and hearty breakfast fare (Plan #142-1155). Bottom:A 2-story, 4-bedroom, 3-bath European style home includes this bright and airy breakfast nook furnished with a round table and cushioned chairs for the ultimate in comfort (Plan #101-1291).
2. Walk-in Pantry
Can you live without a walk-in kitchen pantry in your new dream home? I remember the pantry in my sister’s house was more of a “step-up” closet where non-perishables, cookware, and small appliances were stored. It was not the most convenient of storage spaces.
So a well-lit walk-in pantry in close proximity to the kitchen - with plenty of shelves and space to walk around and store and organize grocery items, kitchen utensils, pots and pans, and various gadgets - is a definite “must-consider” in a dream home.
The Goal? Organization
The operative word in a walk-in pantry is “organized.” Your most frequently used cooking oils and spices can be stored in the easiest-to-reach pantry cabinet shelf (or open shelf as the case may be). Keep rarely used small appliances, large pots, massive coffee urn, and the like on upper shelves. For edibles, think about organizing by food groups: for example, dried fruits on one shelf, veggies on another, canned goods (sorted accordingly into soups, sauces, condiments, and of course, expiration date) on still another.
Top: This walk-in pantry in a 1-story, 2-bedroom, 2.5-bath Country style home is as spacious as it is charming with its rustic farm-style sliding door (Plan # 161-1072). Bottom:Here’s a look at the walk-in pantry in a 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath European style-home, with plenty of built-in open shelves for storage needs (Plan #142-1160).
3. Butler’s Pantry
What is a “butler’s pantry” anyway? It’s another take on the “scullery” in classic British homes that is used to store the family silver, china, and serving dishes like platters, tureens, and coffee urns.
In today’s modern homes, the butler’s pantry is a multi-functional space – almost a “kitchen within a kitchen” - often located between the kitchen and dining room or our of site behind the kitchen.
Storage, Prep, Cleanup
It provides extra storage space and allows hosts to prepare and clean up food without guests viewing the process. A standard butler’s pantry is equipped with countertops and storage space for linen, tableware, wine and other dining room pieces. It’s commonly used to prepare drinks and appetizers before the main meal is served. In some luxury homes, you may find a sink, small refrigerator, and dishwasher.
Glass cabinets allow a glimpse into the serving dishes and other tableware stored in this butler’s pantry of a luxurious 1-story, 3-bedroom Craftsman-style home. The pantry is located behind the kitchen proper; countertops on both sides of the room provide plenty of space to prepare drinks and hors d’oeuvres (Plan #198-1011).
Top: From the kitchen island of a 1-story, 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Craftsman home, you can see part of a butler’s pantry through a doorway to the right of the refrigerator. Bottom: Here’s an inside look into the butler’s pantry, which is also used as a “wine cellar” and comes with a sink, counter space and cabinets to store, among other things, wine and beverage glasses (Plan #108-1789).
4. Kitchen Island
More than likely near the top of your kitchen feature wish list for your new home – probably a “must-have” – is a kitchen island. I love HGTV shows, and I’m never surprised that in every design segment, a kitchen island figures into the mix of renovations or new construction. In fact, many larger kitchens now contain two islands.
Generally, homeowners choose to size kitchen islands according to how large the family is and how much entertaining or hosting they plan to do. Islands provide more work, storage, and counter space for the chefs, as well as informal seating for guests and family members during meal prep. A number of new homes – and remodeled ones – include a sink or cooktop in the island, plus open shelves for recipe books and cooking magazines, built-in cabinets, and drawers for tools, appliances, and utensils. And, of course, chairs for casual meals.
The best thing about a kitchen island is that it allows the chefs to socialize and interact with the group as they prepare the meals.
This striking center island in a 2-story, 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath Craftsman-style home features bar stools with red cushions and a sink. In the spacious kitchen, which includes a breakfast nook positioned near large glass windows, family and friends can interact with each other and enjoy snacks and informal meals (Plan #109-1191).
This modern kitchen island with plenty of rustic charm – note the wood-and-granite top – is the centerpiece of the kitchen in a 2,593-sq.-ft., 1-story, 4-bedroom, 4-bath Contemporary style home with Prairie influences. Cushioned stools and a sink complete the look of the island (Plan #161-1085).
5. Eat-in Kitchen
While a separate dining room is reserved for special occasions and holiday gatherings, an eat-in kitchen is the popular choice for day-to-day dining today’s contemporary home. Its efficient and casual design appeals to families who prefer easy-going, relaxed, and comfortable meals. That doesn’t mean, however, that an eat-in kitchen cannot be designed as attractively and spectacularly as the homeowner wishes.
Depending on the size of your kitchen, you can choose a number of design elements that fit your needs and lifestyle – such as a breakfast nook, a spacious center kitchen island with seating capacity, or a peninsula eating bar. Whatever option you select for your dream home, you can design it to be both functional and eye-catching by adding décor accents like colorful cushions and splashes of color in the paint palette.
Top:In addition to its separate dining room (off the kitchen), a 1-story, 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath Contemporary style home with modern touches features this long kitchen island shown with cushioned stools for daily meals (Plan #202-1014). Bottom:You can’t get any more casual than this eat-in kitchen in a 2-story, 6-bedroom, 7-bath Craftsman style home. Its features include the two-tiered kitchen island with prep, meal, and storage space (in the foreground); the second kitchen island beyond that, and the breakfast nook in the background corner (Plan #161-1044).
6. Peninsula Eating Bar
Sometimes called a connected countertop/island, the peninsula eating bar is ideal in a smaller space or one that cannot accommodate a full-blown center island.
Much like the kitchen island, a peninsula provides prep, storage, and seating space. In some homes, it serves as a room divider that separates the kitchen from the living and dining areas.
For cooks who want more privacy in the kitchen, the peninsula is the answer: it doesn’t totally cut off the chefs from the social areas, but it offers them some separation in their “domain” from the rest of the activity in the house.
Top: This sizable peninsula eating bar in the kitchen of a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Country-style home takes the place of a center island. It also serves as a divider that separates the kitchen from the stairs going up to the second floor (Plan #108-1091). Bottom:This peninsula eating bar in the quaint kitchen of a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Ranch style home is a casual dining option in a home that also includes a separate dining room (Plan #169-1016).
7. Secondary Kitchen
In the Philippines, it’s called it the “dirty kitchen” – meaning that all the food preparation, cooking, and dishwashing happened in that secondary kitchen. The trendy, show-stopping space with the state-of-the-art appliances was the social hub, the heart of the home where meals were served and where everyone dined, gathered for conversation, laughs, and good times.
Some designers call secondary kitchens “Baker’s or Caterer’s Kitchens” as more of their high-end clients are adding these “closed kitchens” to their homes. Among the reasons for these secondary kitchens are the desire for extra cooking space to compensate for overcrowding in the main kitchen, privacy for the chefs; and to keep whatever chaos there is in the “working” kitchen away from guests.
Think of the Possibilities
For homeowners who envision a secondary kitchen as an entertaining option, the basement is a great place for it – especially if the game/media room is in that space. Just imagine the convenience of having a secondary kitchen in the lower level when friends and family gather together for movie or sports night. The hosts avoid going up and down to set up food and drinks and then clean up. If you already have your dream kitchen on the main level, all you need in the basement is a functional space with a refrigerator, a sink, counter space, hot plate and built-in shelves to store glassware, plates, and other utensils.
For other homeowners looking to the future, a simple secondary kitchen in the basement or even on the upper level that is fully equipped with appliances and storage space presents a better option for multi-generational living. Down the road that kitchen will provide needed privacy and independence to elderly relatives or to older children living in the same house – but not in a separate annex.
While there are expenses involved – plumbing, appliances, countertops, a sink, and cabinets – the secondary kitchen just needs to be functional with the bare essentials. With that in mind, an appropriate design may be affordable.
This gorgeous secondary kitchen in a 2-story, 5-bedroom, and 5.5-bath Country style home plan – located in the optional walkout/daylight basement – is an ideal entertaining spot. There’s a two-tiered island/bar for entertaining, a refrigerator, wine and beverages, a sink, counter space, oven and microwave, open shelves, and a dishwasher (Plan #153-1121).
8. Outdoor Kitchen
With the emphasis on connecting the indoors and outdoors still top of mind with homeowners and potential buyers, an outdoor kitchen that extends the entertaining space to the backyard or a rear deck continues to be on the list of desirable features. The good news about adding an outdoor kitchen to a new home is that you don’t have to the break the bank to get it done.
Even on a limited budget you can create an inexpensive but trendy and comfortable space for your outdoor cooking activities. You can get modular kitchens or the latest grills with tons of features that resemble outdoor kitchens. Add a sink, a portable kitchen island for prep, storage and serving stations, tables, and chairs – and you’re ready for a wonderful outdoor cooking experience.
Top: What a perfect spot for an outdoor kitchen! A spectacular view and all the appliances make this outdoor kitchen in a 2-story, 3-bedroom, 3-bath European style home just an ideal space to create wonderful meals (Plan #106-1156). Bottom:A 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Ranch style home features this rear deck with an outdoor kitchen equipped with a built-in grill, a fireplace, and dining table with chairs (Plan #169-1016).
So are you ready to decide which of these amazing kitchen features you want to install in your new home?
Footnote: The lead image in this article features a large kitchen island in the bright and light-filled kitchen of a 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath Country-style home. For details, click here (Plan #106-1274).