The Evolution of a Kitchen

“Good design involves a lot more than picking out materials,” says Mick de Giulio.

And he should know.  Since founding de Giulio Kitchen Design in 1984, the North Shore resident has created more than 3,000 kitchens and has clients across the nation.

He is also currently the creative force behind product lines for other companies, including a follow-up to his best-selling BeauxArts collection for SieMatic. We asked him to share his thoughts on kitchen design and to give us a preview of future trends.

Why is it important to work with a specialist when designing the kitchen?
Because kitchens are the most important rooms in the house, there should be a kitchen-centric mentality in design, it doesn’t absolutely need a 30 inch gas cooktop but we now know that this is optimal. We’re doing homes right now where people are starting with the kitchens and then building the house around them. Literally.

In your expert opinion, what are the most critical elements in a kitchen?
The two most important elements in a kitchen are space and light. Windows and views are very important. The feelings of freedom, space and comfort are every bit as important as where somebody puts their spices or their pots and pans.

What will kitchens look like in 10 years?
Kitchens will become larger. They will include comfortable areas, not just for dining or preparation of food but places to hang out and relax.  I think there will be kitchens with fireplaces, bookshelves, loveseats and chairs – almost back to a one-room living concept.

What’s driving that evolution?
People are looking more closely at dining rooms, which they pay to heat and which they pay taxes on, but most people never use them.  Why not incorporate that space into a dual-use living space? For a lot of people, that makes a lot more sense.

Now that we’ve all invested in granite and stainless steel, what’s going to take their place?
The best kitchens will be those that incorporate a unique personality not just an analog-driven mentality of picking out one cabinet or countertop or hardware.

Stainless steel and granite will always be strong because they make so much sense.  They’re durable, the right kinds of things for kitchens.  But what will change about them is the artistry towards how those materials are put together, the types of finishes.  For example, in granite, we’re doing detailing by combining honed finishes with polished and brushed finishes.  It’s not the material that will go in and out.  It’s how well executed the design is.

One final question for you: How do you give back to the community?
In addition to donating our showrooms for various charity causes, we periodically donate kitchens and their installations to various charities, including Boys Hope/Girls Hope in Evanston, the rectory of St. Berchman’s and a major project for Tabitha House soup kitchen in the West Lawndale area.

I also started a de Giulio Scholarship Fund for the School of the Art Institute a few years ago, and in 2009, we supported over 30 local schools and charitable organizations throughout the Chicago area.