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Six Fresh Ideas for Your Kitchen Layout

The kitchen is the most versatile room in the home. It is used for cooking, eating, entertaining, doing projects, and hosting informal gatherings. This evolution to being an informal gathering place has had a profound impact on kitchen design. Gone are the days of formal dining rooms and isolated kitchens. Kitchens today are integrated seamlessly into family living areas. Islands and cabinets serve not just as custom built-ins but are fine pieces of furniture complementing the décor in the adjacent living spaces. Read about the following six fresh ideas for your kitchen as you plan your new home or remodel.

1) Double Island

Kitchens are called upon to perform an increasingly central role in the home—accommodating more people than ever before and for longer periods of time. The flow of traffic in and through the kitchen is an important planning concept as you think about your new kitchen design or remodel. The use of a double island helps prevent congestion between food preparation areas and congregation areas. The inner island extends the food preparation area with the extra counter space and most often includes the primary sink. This allows preparation to take place without having your back turned from the action in the home. The outer island functions as an informal dining table and allows for congregation and unimpeded flow through the kitchen.

2) Walk-In Pantry

Spacious pantries are the new craze. Historically, a pantry functioned to provide additional storage space for food and accessories, and usually consisted of a dedicated cabinet or small closet area. In recent years the pantry commonly occupied a corner of the kitchen and included floor to ceiling open shelving kept out of site by a full sized door, but still remained accessible. Now the pantry is a bona fide extension of the kitchen and is a room in its own right. The walk-in pantry of today provides counter space for small appliances such as toasters, blenders, mixers, or coffeemakers which can stay ready to use without being visible. Pantries are more frequently including supplemental refrigerators and secondary sinks, and cabinetry is replacing open shelving.

3) Window Seat

A quaint window seat accenting a breakfast nook or simply providing casual seating for the kitchen is being seen more and more. Window seats have always provided a warm and comfortable charm to a home, but their use in a kitchen is increasing in prevalence. Window seats can function as bench seating for a table or exist entirely for the purpose of offering an inviting area to socialize.

4) Open Floor Plan

The concept of an open floor plan isn’t completely new. An open floor plan originated as a way to share living spaces and maximize square footage across kitchens, dining rooms, and family rooms. These principles are just as relevant for larger homes where square footage and cost efficiency is less of a concern. The real innovation in kitchen planning comes from not just removing the walls between rooms to make the floor plan open, but ensuring the rooms feel completely congruent with circulation patterns built into the design. The transition to other living spaces is accomplished through thoughtful arrangement of furniture while still maintaining a consistent design theme. Some backlash in open-concept kitchens relates to the lack of separation between public and private spaces. Again, proper space planning incorporates an open concept while providing for cozy nooks and private areas. Indeed, the larger walk-in pantry where some kitchen functions are performed behind closed doors is a direct response to this.

5) Flexible Table Needs

New homes rarely incorporate a formal dining room anymore. The cost to add square footage for a room that is never used is hard to justify. If you are remodeling and already have a dining room, consider how to integrate that space into more flexible uses. Breakfast nooks have not entirely given way to bar seating at kitchen islands. The romantic notion of catching the morning sun during breakfast or having an informal table for an afternoon snack or activity is still common. However, the flexibility of those uses has evolved tremendously. An ornate table may function as a decorative focal point but also be used to provide additional seating when needed.

6) Outdoor Dining

In addition to the open design concept for interior spaces, the same principles apply when integrating outdoor spaces as well. Utilizing a barbecue grill or fire pit for routine food preparation and not just for that infrequent summer party, is becoming more common. Rethinking the orientation, roofing, and decking of patio design in relation to the kitchen is increasingly important. Planning for transitions from inside the home to the outside help with traffic flow and convenience. Whether entertaining for a large event or simply throwing a kabob on the grill for an evening meal, dining al fresco is here to stay.