S'Wonderful Kitchens

by Laura Barnett Sawchyn, IIDA TCW

Traditionally, the kitchen has always been the heart of any home.  We eat, plan what to eat, entertain, and just hang out there. User friendly kitchens are sometimes part of a great room--with television, computer stations, and cozy sofas bringing extra comfort into the mix.  Cabinetry of gorgeous wood or lacquer finishes transition into bookshelves and media centers in the family room.  Kids don't hide out in their bedrooms for homework, but belly up to the bar with their wireless laptops at islands the size of small landing strips, while Mom cleans vegetables at the prep sink and Dad fires up the indoor grill and power wok.  Kitchens are the favorite gathering place for family and friends alike. 

Technology has changed the role of the kitchen to that of a command center. Captain Kirk meets the Jetsons as new appliances do much of the work at the touch of a button or a call from your cell phone. Televisions are built into refrigerators, oven hoods, or flip down from your upper cabinets.  Coffee makers no longer hide in appliance garages, but proudly take their place built right in to the face of the cabinetry. There's even an oven that refrigerates your food up to twenty-four hours before it cooks it, and then keeps it warm until you return home from work.  Take the guesswork out of microwave cooking by scanning your package's UPC code before placing the food in your oven to program the setting and time automatically.  There are dishwashers that sense just how dirty your dishes really are and magically adjust the amount of soap, water temperature, intensity, and running time accordingly. Stainless steel glistens everywhere as the commercial influence dominates appliance, countertop, lighting, and accessory designs. So even if your favorite thing to make for dinner is a restaurant reservation, consider these elements to bring your kitchen into the 21st Century.

With custom designed cooking or food prep centers such at these developed by Neff Chicago, everyone gets into the act. Spacious enough for the whole family to participate, the equipment is strategically placed in their stylish cabinetry. Choose this sleek island of exotic wood combined with ash and stainless (Photo #1) or mix brightly colored lacquer cabinets with stainless to highlight this hi-tech chef's station.  (Photo #2)

Not all hi-tech kitchens look contemporary.  Consider these fine burled woods and traditional architectural elements from Neff Chicago. (Photo #3) Or these classic country style cabinets and hood with the latest in cook tops from Wolf (Photo #4, Laura Barnett Designs, Available at Abt and Sub-Zero Wolf Showroom.Small under counter ice maker and wine cooler tuck inconspicuously into the island (Photo #5, Laura Barnett Designs). Sub Zero leads the pack in refrigeration. Take a peek through the glass door on this full-sized industrial style model. (Photo #6, Available at Abt and Sub-Zero Wolf Showroom.)

Neff accessory systems are extraordinarily easy to access.  The stainless hanging bar attaches to your backsplash and storage modules snap on and off, depending on your needs.  Knives, glassware, wine bottles, or just about anything else are in clear view right at your fingertips. (Photo #7).

Large drawer base cabinets are constructed of heavy duty stainless steel and fitted with compartments for specialized storage.  Stack your dinner plates, arrange your cutlery, or store spices in their own unique place. (Photo #8, Neff Chicago).

Even the small drawers can be fitted for singular uses.  This drawer integrates triple food wrap dispensers, a specialized cutting board and cheese knives, along with exclusive slots for your chef's knives.  (Photo #9, Neff Chicago).

There are many cook tops with heating elements that fluctuate depending upon the size of your pots and pans, some even turn themselves off when the cookware is removed from the burner, but none do it as beautifully as Fisher & Paykel.  (Photo #10 Available at Abt) The simplicity of the design also affords easy clean up.

Light up your life with this beautiful faucet from KWC.  No need to get wet to test the water temperature, the light shines red for hot and blue for cold.  (Photo #11 Available at Abt)

It's easy to make cappuccino for him and espresso for yourself with this spectacular built-in coffee maker from Miele.  It brews a cup at a time or a full pot with the touch of a button.  The storage drawer below is optional.  (Photo #12, Available at Abt)

Zen elegance prevails, even when your kitchen is full of modern amenities.  (Photo #13, Laura Barnett Designs) Consider this cherry wood installation complete with double ovens, microwave, warming drawer, built-in coffee maker, six-burner cook top, over-sized hood with lighting, sink, soap dispenser, dishwasher, computer station, eat-at island, granite counters and backsplash, limestone flooring and separate kitchen table. 

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