A kitchen for all seasons

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The kitchen has always been the hub of activity in the family home, whether for the family itself or a gathering of friends.

No matter what area of the house you set up for a party or dinner, people tend to congregate in this area. It’s the place where major household decisions are made, great dinners are prepared and guest are entertained.

Throughout the years, as most decorating styles and trends have undergone dramatic changes, very few have been made in the basic structure and design of the kitchen.

Kitchens are no longer “kitchens,” they are grand rooms, and they are a most personal room. The perfect kitchen is for those with a passion for family, food and life. Kitchens should be designed around what’s truly important: Building or designing a more desirable house starts with the kitchen, and it must be designed for the visual, as well as for efficiency.

You may be considering remodeling or updating your kitchen, and if so, remember that remodeling a kitchen entails much more than mere redecoration.

More important than aesthetics, kitchens must be functional, practical and a pleasant environment to work and live in.

When making decisions concerning the decor of your kitchen, you should steer toward home decorating concepts that fall more closely in line with your active lifestyle.

To help you achieve that special kitchen atmosphere, you could choose between five different design concepts: “the Cook’s’ Kitchen,” for cooking, saving steps, appliances near each other; “the Serious Kitchen,” with good storage for a well-stocked chef, used and enjoyed by the whole family; “the Country Kitchen,”  with its ructic, moody, darker tones, Scandinavian or Spanish feeling, old-fashioned look; “the Sophisticated Kitchen,” striking, formal, architectural features; and “the Purist Kitchen,” easy to work in, modern, no rustic or prettiness, white or light tones.

Give a lot of thought and research as to what type of flooring you would like, such as ceramic  tile, brick, hardwood, granite, etc.

Since the cabinets are eye-level and take up much of the kitchen, you must give thought to the type of wood you’d like and what it’ll look like when stained or painted. There are many types of wood that can be used: oak which is the most popular; cherry, which is very formal and elegant; pine, birch,ash, douglas fir and redwood. In dealing with your cabinets, do you want custom made cabinets or stock?

You also need to consider what type of lighting you prefer. Today, many homes are going with recessed lighting on dimmers. Recessed lighting gives you a nice open ceiling with excellent light. Think about task lighting under top cabinets and for concentrated lighting zones. Also, do you want natural daylight, a light box, wall-mounted fixtures, hanging fixtures and/or a drop ceiling?

When remodeling or updating a kitchen there are so many features to consider that can be worked into your design and needs such as a spice rack outside of a cabinet or a spice rack built into a cabinet. If you enjoy wine with your meals think about a wine rack built into the cabinetry or a free-standing wine cabinet.

There are many types of hoods on the market to choose from in designs using brass, copper or wood to match your cabinets. If you want your hood to be an accent, go with brass or copper. You will find that there are sinks to fit every need in size, color, recessed or self-rim. Many people are putting cooktops in their islands along with sinks and an area for sitting. Islands are a great place for extra storage. Finally, give some thought to cabinet storage for trays and pull-out shelves for pots and pans.

When considering designs and materials that can create the ambiance you want in your environment, kitchen ideas are endless. For me a good time element is when I design a kitchen I like to order all the appliances in advance of the cabinet installation and have them stored in the garage. This way there are no surprises or problems such as a late delivery throwing off the schedule, or an item not fitting into an allocated space. Everything is there for the last-minute measurements and installations.

Ken Dean is an award-winning and published professional interior designer, design teacher and writer for 40 years. For complete residential, commercial & contract design and earthquake & remodeling. His website is www.deaninteriordesign.com. He can be reached at (661) 251-0170.

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