Today’s kitchens are more luxurious than ever, and kitchen remodel contractors and designers understand that homeowners are forever struggling to find balance between having all the modern conveniences and wanting a clean and uncluttered space. Cooking is impossible when every horizontal surface is covered with gadgets, appliances and decorative pieces, but on the other hand, who doesn’t need a set of knives, blender and garlic press at the ready?
As a leading kitchen remodel contractor in Phoenix, we’ve seen trends come and go. Some have been the kind of “trendy’ trends we don’t miss (for example, we won’t be recommending a sponge-painted border around the top of the kitchen walls), but some trends are real improvements, like universal design, which we expect to become as standard as the “work triangle,” consisting of the refrigerator, sink and range, that are part of every good kitchen remodeling plan.
If you are considering kitchen remodeling, we’d like to share some of the more exciting trends in we are seeing. We also invite you to come to our showroom, where you can see many of these for yourself.
Neutrals with Pops of Color
Instead of painting cabinets popular colors, neutrals are big now. In woods, we are seeing a lot of deep reddish brown that creates a rich feeling and is easy to accent. Keeping the larger aspects such as cabinets and countertops neutral and decorating with color not only keeps the kitchen from becoming dated too quickly, it also makes it easy to make big changes to the look without spending much money, since all you may need to do is change out the light fixtures and accessories to get a completely different slant on your design.
White kitchens have come back and are very appealing because they have such a clean, spacious appearance. White appliances are also much easier to keep clean than stainless steel.
Black and white is also popular, but this isn’t the checkerboard floor and dramatic contrast we saw a lot of a decade or two ago. A white kitchen with black countertops and trim has a very sharp look. Black cabinet doors can also give a white kitchen a modern look. Black can easily become overwhelming, and the contrast helps to keep it in check.
Gray is surprisingly popular for kitchens now. Don’t worry, we’re not talking warship navy gray! A darker blue-gray looks striking and makes features stand out, without being as bold as black. A lighter silver-gray is also popular, and seems to add an elegant tone in a very subtle way.
Large appliances tend to be white, black, or stainless steel instead of any color themes, but an unexpected use of color is a trend of colored sinks. Not pastel, either, but bright, strong colors. This works especially well with front apron sinks, which have a wide front edge that extends just beyond the cabinet. The color really stands out against a neutral cabinet and countertop—and may even inspire you to keep the dishes done.
Contemporary or Transitional Designs Work Best
If you are doing a complete overhaul and have your heart set on a frilly Victorian or classic country kitchen, your remodeling contractor can certainly do that, but if resale value or renovation cost is a concern, you would do best to stick with a transitional design, or go with something contemporary.
Another thing to keep in mind, though, is to match the kitchen style to the rest of the house. You want the space to flow, and too much contrast between areas can be disturbing.
One of our favorite trends in contemporary kitchens is flat front cabinets. They create a sleek, clean line across the room. The look is highlighted by architectural lines in faucets and door and drawer handles.
Universal Design Is Here to Stay
Universal design makes all aspects of a home available to all users. It is particularly well received in Phoenix because so many residents are interested in aging in place, or staying in their private homes rather than transitioning to assisted living.
Some of the ways your remodeling contractor can incorporate universal design are to make sure there’s no heavy lifting overhead, and squatting is not required to access storage. Accessibility of controls and room to maneuver a wheelchair are also included in kitchen remodeling plans.
For aging in place, the microwave should be at or below cabinet level to prevent the possibility of hot liquids being spilled from above when they are taken out of the oven. This eliminates the over-the-stove slot, but allows for placement on the counter, or being mounted underneath top cabinets. One of the newer ways to make the microwave’s position safer is the use of a microwave drawer. These keep the oven at a safely low height, but let it be out of sight when not in use.
A regular oven can also be installed at counter height to make use safer and easier. Side-opening doors slide out of the way, avoiding the danger of leaning or falling against a hot oven door. Built-in double ovens have been done this way for decades, so it isn’t unusual, but is beneficial for any kind of user.
A microwave drawer is not the only use for deep drawers in base cabinets. In this age of decluttering, you can even have double-drawers in your lower cabinets. In this setup, each cabinet has a top drawer about the size of a normal drawer, and a deep drawer below it, that is perfect for larger items, such as pots and pans.
Base cabinets are notoriously difficult to access because it requires squatting or kneeling on the floor—and corner cabinets become a no-man’s land of lost things since no one can see into them or reach fallen items. Universal design calls for deep drawers or drawer organizers to replace the usual cabinet shelves. Not only can pots and pans be organized this way, but some racks include holders to keep plates vertical so you never have to deal with a heavy stack.
Universal design handles for cabinets and drawers are D-shaped because it makes them easy to grasp. If you want to go with the flat front cabinets to get that clean modern look from your kitchen remodeling, opt for closures that can be opened by pushing on the door, causing a small bounce to open it instead of having to pull on a handle.
As you can see, universal design makes kitchen remodeling work for you, whether you are interested in aging in place or not. At TWD, we aren’t just kitchen remodel contractors, but we have certified universal design professionals as well. Our services start with the planning stage, which is the best phase of a project to start including a remodeling contractor so you can be sure you are informed about the latest innovations in kitchen remodeling.
Appliances Are a Study in Contrasts
Kitchen sizes, like styles, are less standardized than ever. This is especially true of large appliances this year. People who love to cook, and especially those who enjoy entertaining at home, enjoy spacious kitchens and are asking remodeling contractors to make space for commercial grade appliances. These have larger work and storage spaces, and are typically stainless steel. Stove tops may even have six burners, or adjoining burners to facilitate cooking on two at a time with an extra-large griddle or similar pan.
In complete contrast, some homeowners are opting to do away with the refrigerator being the big box in the room, and instead having a couple of smaller refrigerators that can fit under the counter, or be at counter height for easy access. This allows for separate fruit and vegetable (higher temp) and beverage (chilly) fridges, for example, and also lets one be easily reachable by the cook, while guests, or the kids, can get to the drinks or snacks without being in the way.
Kitchen remodeling contractors are also finding that instead of opting to construct a full-sized kitchen for a mother-in-laws apartment, or share the kitchen with returning adult children, Phoenix homeowners are opting to install “micro-kitchens.” Similar to what you might find in the tiny houses that are all the rage, these micro-kitchens usually have a two-burner cooktop and microwave-convection oven combination for cooking and a small refrigerator or even just a refrigerator drawer along with a sink and, since most people can’t live without a dishwasher, an 18-inch model is available and fits right in with the micro theme.
Move Over Granite
Quartz is now in favor for countertops, and many different patterns and colors are available. It is resistant to burning, scratching and chipping because it is so tough. Countertops made from a mixture of crushed quartz and resin are also extremely tough and look like the real thing. Quartz is also easier to maintain than granite because it doesn’t have to be sealed to prevent staining.
For a lower cost alternative, high quality laminates that look like quartz are also available.
LEDs have caught on in several forms. They don’t generate heat like traditional bulbs, so can be mounted under cabinets and left on without concern. LED rope lights can be used around upper shelves or at the base of cabinets, both as decoration and nightlights. You can also get them in a variety of colors and at differing brightness.
Energy efficiency is another benefit of LED lighting, making them less expensive in the long run.
We spoke earlier of using pops of color to brighten up a neutral kitchen and light fixtures are a great way to do this. You can add color and a design element that makes a style statement without giving up any valuable countertop real estate.
The Sky’s the Limit for Technology in Kitchen Remodeling
A touch-activated or no-touch faucet is appropriate for universal design, but any busy cook will appreciate being able to turn on running water without getting the mess from their hands onto the faucet knobs.
As kitchen tech goes, that’s pretty basic. In addition to all kinds of gadgets, tech in kitchen remodeling includes the “connected” fridge, which has an LCD display that you can use to access recipes on the internet, watch TV, listen to music or check the weather, among other things.
Coffee pots can be turned on and cocktails can be ordered right from your cell phone. The latter are still on the high-end trend list, but we expect them to become more common as prices come down and availability increases.
If you would like to find out what’s hot in kitchen remodeling in Phoenix right now, give TWD a call at 623-544-1211. Our certified design professionals would be happy to give you a tour of the showroom and help with your remodeling plans.