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The Multi-Tasking Modern Kitchen

Updated on February 27, 2010

The kitchen has come a long way from existing merely for food storage and cooking purposes. Modern kitchens are being designed with the ability to function in several ways. For example, many kitchens now contain a designated area to accommodate a home office. There is also a growing trend toward making the kitchen a decorative focal point within the home. Finally, desirable contemporary kitchens contain useful accessories that streamline tasks in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

A home office can be incorporated into a kitchen in several ways. One option is to reserve a small section of the kitchen island exclusively for this purpose. This can be accomplished by varying the island height and designating one level for the home-office work area. Another idea is to design a small built-in desk area against the wall. By installing bifold doors, you can simply close the doors when the office is not in use and hide it from view.

Home offices require adequate lighting, and today's kitchens incorporate a variety of lighting sources, from walls full of windows to skylights and glass blocks to provide natural lighting. Elegant choices for artificial lighting within the kitchen include stylish pendant lighting that spotlights kitchen islands, innovative chandeliers that highlight eating areas, and track or recessed lighting that focuses on food-preparation areas.

Besides functioning as a home-office space, today's kitchen is often designed as a living area. With the growing trend toward less cabinetry, more decorative furnishings are appearing within the kitchen. Thus, the kitchen can easily be transformed into the "hub" of the home or party when you choose to entertain.

This concept includes incorporating features from quality furnishings into kitchen cabinetry. By adding furniture "legs" to cabinetry and incorporating wood or stone countertops, you can give your kitchen the feel of a true "living space." Maple is currently a favorite choice.

A less expensive adaptation of this concept (great for homeowners who are not in the market for a new or remodeled kitchen) is to use sideboards, hutches, armoires and open shelving to house decorative glassware, dishes and other serving pieces. By adding fashionable furnishings to your kitchen space, you can easily create sitting areas for family and friends to enjoy. Vignettes featuring cozy club chairs or built-in benches and window seats are gaining wide acceptance and enhance the ambiance and comfort found within the kitchen.

Given today's casual lifestyles, many consumers are creating larger kitchens that incorporate dining areas rather than adding separate formal dining rooms. Fireplaces, wood stoves and other decorative design elements used to create focal points are gaining popularity. And don't be afraid to use color! Black and white are classic kitchen colors, but earth tones and other warm colors are making dynamic impacts as wallcovering color selections. Furthermore, to better assist the chef with daily tasks in the kitchen, functional accessories are being added.

Homeowners are investing a great deal of time in creating kitchens that are comfortable, attractive and easy to use. Before designing your new or remodeled kitchen, consider visiting kitchen showrooms, cabinet manufacturers, home improvement centers, model homes, home and garden trade shows and other outlets that feature kitchen products. Surf the Internet for interesting Web sites and scour magazines that offer kitchen ideas. Start an "idea file" by clipping photographs and saving brochures that feature products or style ideas you would like to incorporate into your kitchen.

A wealth of information is available to consumers who are ready to embark on planning their "dream" kitchen. Allow your kitchen to reflect both a functional and aesthetically appealing living space within your home!

Innovative ideas to assist the chef with daily tasks:

  • Appliance garages with pull-down doors house toasters and coffee makers.
  • Built-in wine, plate and glass racks offer storage and add style to your kitchen walls.
  • Slide-out drawers accommodate pots and pans efficiently.
  • Pullout cutting boards can be hidden from view when not in use (and can be removed for easy cleaning).
  • Refrigerator "drawers" can be built into kitchen islands (a perfect snack area for children!).
  • Oven-warming "drawers" to keep foods warm supply additional space (great for cooking large meals or entertaining).
  • Seamless sinks are constructed without lips that can trap dirt, allowing for simple cleanup.

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