The kitchen has always been the heart of the home, filling many roles beyond the obvious provision of daily meals. Modern kitchens, more than any other room in the house, speak to the way we want to live on our planet. Today`s family seeks to combine leisure, work and entertaining as part of their kitchen centered lifestyles. Health and wellness are recognized as “must haves” for living well.
Builders, designers and manufacturers are responding to homeowners’ need for control, ease, and environmental conscience. From recycling and eating local to kitchen details that carefully consider how to manage heat, light and water systems, there is a growing recognition of the impact of our carbon footprint on present and future generations. It is also refreshing to see responsible use of materials and preservation of our environment moving to the forefront in sustainable kitchen design and construction.
Considering these ideas in kitchen planning and design can be as simple as, instead of waiting fifteen years to replace your dishwasher, you now replace it in six or seven years in order to get one that is quieter and more energy efficient. Smart use of energy resources tops many must-have lists. Here are some other trends in this area
As families move beyond simple conservation of resources, they are eager to incorporate the healthier lifestyle driven by the farm-to-table movement. Great strides are being made by the appliance industry.
The hottest terms in the appliance business are BTU’s (which measure a cooking range’s burner power) decibels (noise level for Dishwashers), RPM’s (spin speed for front load washing machines) and CFM’s (for ventilation products). Manufacturers are now trying to push the envelope on these numbers, figuring the better they look on paper, the more sales they are going to see. Some consumer guides tell people to ignore these metrics but statistics show that shoppers are paying attention to them. Energy efficient appliances are not just economically and environmentally smart, they are obviously more desired by today`s buyers.
Indoor air quality is becoming more important to homeowners, so low- or no-VOC finishes, paints, sealants, and cabinetry materials are increasingly being incorporated into kitchens, as well as state-of-the-art ventilation and filtration systems. Even though these items are not as visually apparent as others, people are looking for products that don`t adversely affect the indoor air quality of their home.
Also, appliance industry groups currently are developing lifecycle-based sustainability standards for home appliances such as microwaves and refrigerators, which will add a new dimension to appliance performance.
A wider range of metals is being used, from stainless steel to polished nickel to bronzes and brasses with living finishes. Stone`s natural veining is highly valued, and finish preferences have shifted toward honed rather than polished, to let stone`s raw texture shine. Natural materials are able to retain their own voices in today’s kitchens, rather than being muted by unnatural treatments.
Wood cabinetry may be painted, but the preference is now for a hand-applied finish that allows brush marks and the material’s original grain to show through, for example.
As the separation between kitchens and living rooms continues to disappear, homeowners are showing a greater preference for integrating and concealing utilitarian elements such as appliances using natural materials. This will be supported by technological advances.
Technology also will enable seamless aging-in-place design and the incorporation of electronic displays and control panels, as well as lighting, into kitchen surfaces — countertops in particular. Further product innovations and electronic advances will make wireless and/or plugless countertop appliance operation a reality.
We have only considered a few of the many innovative ways to incorporate health and wellness the heart of our homes – the kitchen.