by Mina Fies
Look around at new kitchens being built in homes today and you’ll see they’re not built like they used to be – in a good way. Today’s kitchen is a main – if not the main – room of the house, and as such, it should be designed as an invigorating area around which activity flourishes. Gone are the days when kitchens were sequestered at the back of the house, designed as simply a space off the dining room, or even – gasp! – shut off with doors. If you are thinking about a new kitchen or a kitchen remodel, plan to show it off and make the new space a key feature of your home. The activity that goes on in and around this room will be central to your home life.
For today’s homeowners, the kitchen isn’t a private room where daily activities are kept separate from the rest of the home, so don’t shut it off! When planning your kitchen, try to maintain or create sight lines to adjacent areas such as dining rooms, living rooms, and the outside. If your budget allows, consider replacing full walls with half-walls or peninsulas. For a less extreme change, turn doors or doorways into wider openings. To create a visual division between adjacent spaces rather than a physical one, pendant lighting or changes in flooring are just a few options. Where walls are necessary for the sake of load-bearing capabilities or cabinet storage, pass-through’s can provide a good visual connection and keep the kitchen from feeling blocked off.
The dining room is a malleable concept these days and its incorporation to the surrounding rooms is a matter of space availability and personal preference. In a small kitchen, if there is a dining area nearby, consider scrapping a breakfast area, which may just take up space and expand your cabinetry. On the other hand, if you’re comfortable with it, get rid of a full dining table altogether and opt instead for more economical seating in the kitchen. A smaller breakfast area with banquette seating around a compact table is a unique alternative to dining space. You may also opt for incorporating seating into an island or peninsula. Storage space under such a bar area can be utilized for keeping little-used items. Even if you have a large floor plan where a separate dining area is available, consider adding bar seating at an island or peninsula. This additional function area can become a great place to sit down for just a few minutes or an extended work session, especially for kids.
In addition to physically opening up the space, several details will also help make your kitchen feel airy and inviting. If you’ve just built a wonderful trophy kitchen, remember to provide adequate lighting to showcase the new space and create mood. Under-cabinet fixtures, cove lighting above cabinets and pendants over islands will provide visual interest. Recessed cans are great for general light – use enough to make the space feel bright rather than dark and cramped. Light-colored walls and cabinetry will also make a small space feel larger. Add personality with accent colors or a backsplash. If an abundance of cabinetry makes your kitchen feel closed-in, remove some of the doors to create open cabinets or replace some solid doors with glass ones for a more open feel. The insides of these shelves can also receive a different paint treatment for interest.
As your kitchen comes together, remember that it will be a family gathering and entertaining space, just like other rooms of your home. Keep it integrated with its surrounding areas, and provide adequate space for all the functions it will come to serve. A kitchen shouldn’t feel like a servants quarters – it should act as a hub, a place to showcase personality, and of course, a space to perform household activities while interacting and enjoying time with others.
© Mina Fies is the Founder and CEO of Synergy Design & Construction, Inc. To learn more about Mina and receive your FREE Report, “How to Qualify a General Contractor and Avoid Remodeling Nightmares!” and a Free subscription to our monthly e-newsletter, please visit www.renovatehappy.com
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