When it comes to renovating your home, the kitchen is where you'll get the most bang for your buck. After all, it's a room you use every day, and it often serves as a gathering place for the whole family. With the right forethought and planning, a kitchen renovation can last for years. Before you start stripping walls and ripping down cabinets, it's important to have an idea of the result you want to achieve. Here are a few of the current trends in kitchens.
Punch up the color
For years people were nervous about committing to a color in their kitchen. Remember the avocado fridges of the '70s? But Stephen Smith of Reico Couture Design Group says that's changing. "People have lost their fear of color," he says, adding that popular tones he's seen include pistachios, mints and powder blues.
Countertops are one of the ways people are taking the plunge. Marvin Daniel, co-owner of Kitchen Designworks, says his clients are seeking out granites in exotic tones like "Louisa Blue," a mix of blue and rust tones, as well as Lavastone, which is made from lava that's been glass-enameled in a variety of custom colors.
Although stainless steel remains a desired style, many people are opting for a rustic look with warm tones and natural materials. Smith says many of his clients are mixing their countertops and using wood to top islands. Lyptus, a special type of wood that's grown on plantations in South America and planted with indigenous trees to preserve the ecosystem, is popular because it's beautiful and grown in an environmentally friendly manner. In the showroom at Classic Kitchens of Virginia, you'll find 100-year-old oak from a Shenandoah Valley barn and elm from a building in China. "Some people like it because it's a recycled product. Some people like it because it has a story to tell," says Matt Gunn, a Classic designer.
While many clients stick with a neutral palette, they're combining multiple finishes. "A lot of people are using different woods," says Kimberly Carter, a designer at Custom Kitchens. Carter has been getting requests for walnut, mahogany and bamboo.
New inventions are increasing efficiency and making homes safer. Daniel says many customers are purchasing magnetic-induction stoves that create electromagnetic fields that send currents into the iron atoms in pots and pans and react with movement to cause friction and heat. "You can touch the burner right after you're done cooking and it's cool," he says.
Make it convenient
Instead of forcing yourself to arrange your kitchen by conventions, use the space to suit your family's needs. Gunn says clients with homes that are 20 years old and older are removing the wall between the kitchen and living space. Kevin Korda of Renovation Resources says you should choose what's comfortable for you. For many, that means raised appliances. "We lift them up to make them more accessible," he says
Set the mood
One of the easiest ways to update a kitchen is with touches you wouldn't often think of putting in a kitchen. Daniel suggests experimenting with window treatments or wall coverings that add color. He also says a chandelier or lamp can make a statement.
Lighting can also alter the mood of a kitchen. Linda Chin, owner of Lighting By Design, says many people are adding dimmers to their kitchens: "You have all kinds of moods and themes you can set with just that," she says. Another of Chin's top suggestions is adding thin fluorescent lights under counters because they're affordable and make the workspace easier to use.