Hot kitchens

If you can't stand the heat, get out of these hot kitchens.

by Karen Long

You’ve seen it happen, maybe even been one of the instigators. Your hostess has spent hours cleaning and decorating the dining and living areas, but somehow, before the night is over, the party has gravitated to the kitchen and guests are laughing around the island, diving into the refrigerator and noshing on appetizers.

Kitchen designers are finally embracing this phenomenon. “It’s always been the heart of the home,” says Arlene Phillips, Wichita’s Kitchen Tune-Up franchisee, “but now it’s the place for family and entertaining, and people are really gearing their kitchens toward that — making it more of a living space instead of just a cooking space.”

Here Phillips shares five trends for 2011 that turn up the heat in the kitchen.

Open floor plans, larger islands

Combining the kitchen and dining room into one “great room” makes for a more inviting space and encourages family togetherness, says Phillips. “It is a tremendous change in these kitchens; it’s day and night. It’s like it went from little and compartmentalized to wide-open spaces.”

Not to mention making the space more functional. Carol Enix has “absolutely loved” her new kitchen since Kitchen Tune-Up completed her remodel in December. “It at least doubled, if not quadrupled, my counter space,” she says. “Yeah, it’s much more user-friendly, much better for entertaining and for when I have the family and cooking big meals and things.” In addition, Enix can now seat six at her island — and the island of another Kitchen Tune-Up client seats ten.

Mix it up

The days when all the wood in your kitchen had to be the same color have gone the way of pillbox hats and matching gloves. Mixing and matching contrasting wood tones is “a big one” according to Phillips. The same goes for countertops: Enix’s kitchen now blends black granite around the perimeter with tan granite on the island, against a backdrop of beautiful natural-colored maple.

Beverage centers

Dedicated beverage centers are another hot trend. Enix’s beverage center is black-painted maple and includes a beverage cooler, icemaker and storage above for glasses. A second sink is another common addition.

“I love it,” says Enix, “because it keeps the guests out of the kitchen. They can go make their coffee and their drinks — and we never run out of ice because we have the icemaker.”

God is in the details

Unique touches such as staggering the heights of upper cabinets, installing lighting above and under cabinets and adding high-end hardware and crown molding lend variety and polish. Affixing faux furniture details dresses up a kitchen, says Phillips. “Little feet or legs…make them look more like a piece of furniture than just like your mom’s cabinet.”

But these cabinets aren’t only skin deep; they have a functional utility that Mom would approve of thanks to accessories like rollout trays, spice drawers and

Appliances see double

Doubling up on appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and sinks is becoming more popular. Enix’s remodel replaced a trash compactor with a small dishwasher. “My husband I are here most of the time by ourselves so it’s nice to have that smaller one,” explains Enix. “But when my three kids and their husbands come, it’s too much for one dishwasher. I like having the extra space so I don’t have to do dishes when I have company.”

Enix also has a granite double sink in her island with two faucets, which is handy if she’s scrubbing vegetables and someone needs to wash their hands or fill a pot.

Whether your tastes range from traditional to ultra-modern, your options for turning your kitchen into a real hot spot have never been greater. As Phillips says, “There’s no way to do anything wrong in kitchens now. We see everything and when we’re finished, it all looks wonderful.”

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