Tag Archives: kitchen island

The Improved Kitchen Experience

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.

Kitchen Strategy

Kitchen Strategy

Designing Your Kitchen to Work Hard So You Don’t Have To

Some say that life is lived in the kitchen. After all, the kitchen is the heart of most homes today. While the space was once considered purely utilitarian and frequently closed off from the rest of the house, the kitchen has evolved into the family epicenter, consciously integrated into the overall flow and character of the home.

Functional design and organizational techniques are essential for all of our kitchens – especially given the significant role the space plays in our client’s lives. The overall flow including workspaces, storage, and shelving options are all essential factors we consider unique for each homeowner to help simplify their lives. And everything has a home with customized drawers dedicated to flatware and cooking utensils, along with pull out drawers for cookware or spices, for example.

Our first recommendation is to incorporate full-height cabinets which visually heighten the ceiling and provide optimized storage options: everyday items can be at hand’s reach, while less frequently used items and appliances can be stored up above. Those with tall ceilings can add upper cabinets for even more storage!

Storage above a refrigerator or oven is another option for less frequently used items while cabinet garage doors or a conveniently located butler’s pantry can be used to store or hide large appliances. A more discreet storage technique – and possibly one of our favorite tricks – is to transform columns and cased openings into usable space. All of these options help reduce clutter but sometimes our clients have meaningful pieces or decorative accessories. In this case, we recommend glass cabinets lit from within or classic open shelving to highlight those pieces.

For many, the island or peninsula is a kitchen’s primary gathering spot – not just for food preparation, but also for social entertaining or eating a meal. The island also serves as a key functional component. Refrigerator drawers and dishwashers can be compartmentalized around an island, while wine coolers and microwaves can be handsomely integrated into the design. Adding a practical work surface, such as wood, helps set the island apart, as does choosing a beautiful, decorative overhead light fixture. If designed properly, the island can be the most functional space in the kitchen.

Acknowledging this is a highly utilitarian space, to create a sense of warmth in the kitchen we use millwork such as beadboard on our walls and beamed ceilings articulated in a beadboard. If a homeowner wants their kitchen to exude a distinctly modern tone, in which case we may choose storage options that feel a bit more tailored. For example, stacking wine elements on either side of an integrated built-in refrigerator can establish a sleek, tailored look. For homeowners looking for a more traditional look, nearly all appliances can be paneled to appear like furniture.

A kitchen’s design and functionality sets the tone for a home by increasing the ease with which a homeowner lives and entertains. Whether it is reclaimed timber beams or sleekly designed storage drawers, it should be an inspiring space that tells the story – welcoming all to the heart of the home.