The Improved Kitchen Experience

With Thanksgiving just a week away, many of us are setting our sights on the kitchen. We are assessing our prep and storage spaces, reviewing recipes, and appreciating – or longing for – those new appliances that help optimize our kitchen experience during this busy holiday season.

It is said that “invention is the mother of necessity,” and today’s kitchen appliance and design trends are great examples of these innovations. With people pressed for time more than ever, creating efficiency in the kitchen is a key consideration for many of our clients. That means creating thoughtful kitchen storage and workspaces, as well as exploring faster – and healthier – cooking options.

Steam ovens are at the forefront of today’s appliance trends. By using pressurized steam rather than conventional heat, food is cooked much more quickly and maintains its moisture content without adding typical cooking oils. (Learn more about the steam oven in the video below.) However, because browning food is difficult with steam ovens, we often design a kitchen with either a combination steam-convection oven or include a separate steam drawer, giving clients the best of both cooking worlds. We also use drawers to more fully integrate microwaves into the kitchen cabinetry design. This storage option keeps the appliance handy, but pleasingly out of sight.

Refrigerators represent another key design consideration. Today, brands like Sub-Zero offer appliances sized in one-inch increments so we can carefully customize their integration within the kitchen. This flexibility, along with beautifully paneled door fronts, enables us to offer design solutions tailored to our homeowner’s needs. For example, clients with large families may require both a full-size refrigerator and full-size freezer within the kitchen. In this case – whether we design them side-by-side, with an oven in between, or with storage up above – the appliances remain space-efficient and fully integrated within the kitchen’s cabinetry design.

This kitchen features a full-size refrigerator and full-size freezer side-by-side.
This kitchen features two Sub-Zero over-under refrigerator/freezers separated by a workstation with a farmhouse sink.

Alternately, for clients with smaller households, a single, full-sized refrigerator may suffice for everyday use – while a secondary refrigerator/freezer drawer within an island or nearby pantry provides additional space when entertaining. For families large or small, this ancillary refrigeration space is especially helpful over the holidays for storing prepared sides or hors d’oeuvres, or providing self-serving beverage options for family and guests.

This smaller kitchen features a pantry close by with additional refrigeration and dishwasher drawers.

Over the holidays, meal preparation is always top of mind. Early prep is completed long before guests arrive, but last-minute prep inevitably occurs with a house full of people. For this reason, we are increasingly adding a second island to our kitchens, rather than designing a single, large island. Having two islands allows homeowners to control the space, ensuring each serves a distinct function: one provides a separate “work” or prep space, while the other is free to serve as a buffet or gathering area for guests.

These dual islands serve separate but equally important roles in the kitchen.

With preparation comes the impending kitchen clean up. While this task may be daunting, there are creative options – and appliances – to help make clean up more efficient. Today, we design most of our homes with two dishwashers – an enormous time-saver, particularly with holiday entertaining. For example, installing a full-size dishwasher in the kitchen, along with a second, single or double set of drawers for stemware (we like Fisher & Paykel) will help cut cleaning time in half, while ensuring barware and other items stay separated for quicker organizing and storage.

This island includes a microwave door, a dishwasher drawer, and two refrigerator drawers.
Optional paneling allows the appliances to blend in with the cabinetry.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, we welcome family, friendships, and holiday traditions – and embrace efficient design solutions that optimize our time in the kitchen.