Every year, kitchen remodeling contractors – including us – pore over awards programs and magazine features showcasing the “Kitchen of the Year.” It’s a great way to stay current about the freshest trends in appliances, cabinets, colors, flooring, countertops and kitchen space-savers. But frankly, the three most important features of a great “Kitchen of the Year” never change.
Layout, for example, is always critical. Even when remodeling a large kitchen, we advise homeowners to keep the actual “cooking triangle” – stove, sink, refrigerator – compact so it is efficient for the cook.
New appliances make it much easier to create this efficiency without “cramping” the look of the layout. For instance, under-counter refrigerator drawers can tuck in almost anywhere. So can new microwaves that can be built in right under the counters of an island or other working area. That gives our kitchen designer more freedom to create a highly efficient layout while still creating a clean, open look.
The need for storage is another “Kitchen of the Year” feature that never changes. The good news is that there are always wonderful new gadgets, space-savers and built-ins that can keep all that kitchenware neat and accessible. That’s getting more and more important today since many of our clients want space that would once have gone to upper cabinets kept free for windows, wall space for displaying artwork, or room for a flat screen TV. So, while it’s true that storage is always at the top of new-kitchen priorities, as contractors we are being challenged to be ever more creative in coming up with solutions.
Finally, maintenance has always been – and will always be –essential for a great kitchen. So yes, every kitchen should be fairly easy to keep clean without a lot of extra products or extraordinary care. From the finishes on cabinets to choices for flooring, a new kitchen should be carefully designed to stand up to the family’s lifestyle. Otherwise, that shiny new kitchen will quickly start to look tired and worn. That’s why an experienced kitchen remodeler always discusses materials and maintenance with homeowners to find the right fit not just for the design, but for the family’s lifestyle.
No matter what kind of fixtures and finishes you choose, if you pay careful attention to layout, storage and maintenance, the result is almost certain to get your own enthusiastic vote as “Kitchen of the Year!”
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