Helping Hands in the Kitchen

“The movement in the marble backsplash and subtle blue-gray on the island creates an elevated, serene kitchen.” — By Showcase Kitchens | Photography Credit: Tim Cree/Creepwalk Media

Mixed metals, dark wood and glass-front cabinet doors lend an elegant, contemporary look. Photography Credit: Lauren Hagerstrom Photography

It is an interesting thought to liken the home to the human body: the framework like bones, plumbing like veins, electrical like the nervous system, the roof and façade like skin. When thinking about the kitchen and the vital part it plays in the day-to-day as well as its role as the central gathering spot for the family – the center of love – it is undeniably the heart.

To the average consumer, kitchen design can seem like a Sisyphean task, but with the right guidance – that is, a Kitchen Designer – it can be a smooth process with limitless payoff. “You may know what you like, but it is really hard to pull it all together and having a professional on board and getting that extra bit of handholding, will help you sleep at night,” says Young Huh, creative force behind her eponymous, New York City-based design firm and board member of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Kitchen designers and showrooms have their fingers on the pulse of design, technology and organization while bringing an experience and understanding of what really works. “You don’t want to miss out on what is the latest and greatest in appliances and high-tech finishes,” says Huh. In essence, it is worth trusting an expert when it comes to the “heart” of the home.

As the era of supreme organization continues to permeate the lives of many, it is no less a trending aspiration in the kitchen. Organizational details are becoming increasingly customized, creative and purpose-oriented. Kitchens today include drawers in which devices can be charged, hidden or secret storage solutions, custom drawer inserts for coffee pods and the like, and pantry baskets that advance out when opened. Today’s organization is about reducing the amount of time it takes to locate items, while completely hiding them from view. Vasi Ypsilantis, owner of high-end kitchen and bath design firm The Breakfast Room Ltd., speaks to the consumer psychology behind elevated organization. “Health, family, social and political life gives us so much anxiety, [as] ultimately it is not in our control. Organization of our home and all our belongings . . . gives us peace and a sense of accomplishment,” notes Ypsilantis, having worked on more than 700 kitchen installations throughout her career.Warm woods and blue hues hold the eye in this award-winning kitchen by The Breakfast Room, LTD. | Photography Credit: Keith Scott Morton Photography

“With custom cabinets, calacatta marble countertops, unique geometric floor and hammered hood, this kitchen is the showcase of the home.” —By Showcase Kitchens | Photography Credit: Tim Cree/Creepwalk Media

Custom home office nook by Town & Country Kitchen and Bath | Photography Credit: Patricia Burke Photography

Technology in the heart of the home is advancing at an exponential rate and staying at the forefront can be a challenge. It is par for the course for kitchen designers to travel the globe scouting trade shows to bring back to their practices the very best of what they find. There are certain technologies continuing to improve: touch and open features, LED lighting, and WiFi connected appliances, but certain advances becoming more mainstream are truly changing consumers’ lives. John Starck of Showcase Kitchens, a fifth-generation family-owned upscale kitchen and bath design company founded in 1933, discusses two. “Refrigeration utilizes technology inspired by NASA in their air purification systems to keep food fresher, longer [and] steam ovens have changed the way savvy homeowners cook.” Taking it a step further, an oven now exists that can quickly cook to perfection by detecting the molecular makeup of ingredients. In addition, one of the biggest trends on the horizon is comprehensive control of the kitchen through a single app: view the inside of the fridge, preheat the oven, turn on the dishwasher or schedule your coffee to brew, all within the same user experience.

Design trends in the kitchen tend to lag those throughout the rest of the home. Yet, when it comes to the shift away from the monochromatic and neutral, turning toward bolder expression and interest, the kitchen is not far behind. In vogue is color, warmth, varying textures and unique materials. Ginny Padula, owner of Town & Country Kitchen and Bath, located in design hotspot Red Bank, New Jersey, notes “clients are going back to wood finishes in the kitchen; stained finishes [like] walnut and white oak are increasingly popular.” Trends are dictating a mix of textures and surfaces, that when combined, tell a story and have a beautiful movement and dialogue. As John Starck points out, “more texture is being utilized on countertops with honed or leather finishes. Similarly, backsplashes are . . . seemingly never-ending textural surfaces.” Starck is also championing the use of crafting metals into kitchen design, from metal-framed cabinetry and custom vent hoods, to tiles with metallic accents.Raw wood, exposed hinges and slate greys come together for a look that is industrial chic.

Farmhouse meets pattern play in this light and airy kitchen. Both by Cabri Inc. | Photography Credit: Lauren Hagerstrom Photography

Kitchen showrooms are constantly updated, and a place to play with texture and explore in-depth sample libraries and materials. Lakeville Kitchen and Bath, a family-owned, premier kitchen and bath showroom with two locations on Long Island, has been in business since 1935 and boasts over 10,000 square feet of showroom space — with even more on the way as they relocate their corporate headquarters to nearby Farmingdale, New York.

Ultimately, client satisfaction may be immune to of the moment trends or technology; it is about helping the client realize the kitchen that best meets their needs and aesthetic. Lakshmi Sheth, owner of Cabri Inc. — a design house in Summit, New Jersey specializing in affordable luxury — helps clients achieve their dream kitchen through the following: “a tried-and-true four-phase process, working with [them] every step of the way to ensure a successful outcome.”

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