The Bigger, Better Kitchen

Kitchens have long been considered the heart of the home, and the cliché is truer now more than ever before.

In many homes, the kitchen has all but replaced the living room as family central, which is driving a trend toward larger, more personalized spaces.

“People want to live in their kitchens and that means kitchens need to be areas for more than just cooking, dining and cleaning,” says Mick De Giulio, of Mick De Giulio Kitchen Design in Wilmette. “Most of the kitchens we’re doing are 300 to 800 square feet.”

In addition to taking up more space, De Giulio says that people are orienting kitchens to have the best views, optimal natural light, upholstered seating, TVs and fireplaces. As a result, traditional materials are giving way to a range of personalized options that can be mixed in eclectic ways.

“The big trend in kitchens is personalization,” explains Kimball Derrick of Bentwood Kitchens in Chicago. A model kitchen in Bentwood’s brand new Merchandise Mart showroom features many customizable options, including:

  • A refrigerator with acrylic panels, which are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns that can be easily changed.
  • An island made of walnut and brightly colored, back-painted glass panels.
  • An exterior wall of doors, which folds away to allow the indoor kitchen to easily serve as the outdoor kitchen.

The highly engineered door is one of many ways technology is making the kitchen more flexible and customizable. According to Susan Patenaud, of the full-service design company WPA Chicago, many clients are replacing the traditional kitchen island with tables that can be raised or lowered depending on the type of workspace needed.

“The table allows you to create an area for people to put their drinks down and to layout food,” Patenaud says.

Similarly De Giulio says that Sub-Zero recently introduced a line of appliances, which includes a separate refrigerator and freezer that can be paneled to match the cabinetry and separated if the layout calls for it. He explains, “The real driver of kitchen design is lifestyle.”