Reviving a kitchen fantasy

Despite once being a closed-in, stand-alone room, the kitchen now forms an integral part of the home's leisure space.

October 24, 2007 09:59
Reviving a kitchen fantasy

hi tech kitchen 88. (photo credit: )


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Kitchens have ceased being the personal projects of individual laborers such as carpenters, metalworkers and glass workers. They now comprise an ensemble of details planned out on computer-aided programs and influenced by advanced technology and issues dictated by the market, such as standard-sized electrical appliances. The integral benefits can be found in the updated and meticulous organization of cupboard interiors, for one. There is a wealth of materials to choose from, including sophisticated modern hinges that make work in the kitchen easier, and a whole range of options for layouts and finishes. Traditional principles of kitchen design, such as keeping a watchful eye on ergonomics for kitchen efficiency, easy access and wide passages between areas, are still adhered to in the kitchens of today. However, as far as design is concerned, conservative is out. If in the past an upper row of cupboards was a key part of kitchen planning, over recent years the trend has been to nearly abandon them altogether, or to turn them into decorative cubes suspended on the walls. They have been replaced by wide drawers that slide smoothly in and out, tall cupboards built along the whole length of a wall, and a central island for working and cooking. This approach involves dynamic planning with diligent consideration for the user. The positioning of elements such as the sink, stovetop, oven, fridge, microwave and dishwasher is usually done using modular units that are combined to create your kitchen. The advantage to this system is that the kitchen can be composed of units that don't have to be fixed in place. They can be moved and changed around and can even be taken with you when you move, if necessary, and they can be fitted into any pre-existing kitchen. New ideas fresh from the oven 1) Right in the middle of the living room - A popular choice among many Israeli homeowners is to build a kitchen that blends into the house's entertaining area. It usually contains an island, around which people can sit to work, eat or watch the food while it is being made. But there are still some people who prefer to build a concealed kitchen behind a wall, to keep the mess away from prying eyes. 2) A smooth line - Behind handle-free, uniform facades made from glass or plywood of various designs and colors lie hidden sliding shelves, storage baskets and an abundance of drawers. In this way, people manage to easily incorporate the kitchen within the living room, dining room or entrance hall, without having it look obtrusive. This smooth approach allows the modern day kitchen to quietly take its place as the central hub of the home. 3) A kitchen to suit your mood - If your heart desires a vivid, colorful kitchen, there's no need to check out the room's classic versions. Use a combination of cupboard fronts in cheerful shades of orange, light blue and green. If you are really brave, you can add a few glass facades which have been printed with designs of your choice. 4) Maneuverability of furniture - Tables, work surfaces, kitchen islands and bars have recently become available in versions that contain moving parts on smooth runners. They can be used dynamically depending on what's going on in the kitchen at any given time. Examples include small breakfast tables, chopping boards or desks that can be opened out or tucked away. 5) Highlight - LED lighting fixtures with slim, linear designs can be integrated almost invisibly underneath an upper row of kitchen cupboards. As an added bonus, the new LED lighting conserves electricity in a big way. Each light's life span is around 100,000 hours (11 years of continuous usage) and their brightness can be adjusted by remote control. 6) Integrative technology - It has become increasingly popular to have a touch panel in your kitchen that controls a whole range of appliances. You can use it to control the lighting, the heating and the air conditioning. The touch panel can also offer information concerning the latest on the stock exchange, the weather forecast and even recipes. In addition to its role as a functional space, the kitchen is becoming the communications control center of the home 7) Lower row of cupboards - Instead of fixed shelves, the lower portion of the kitchen now contains sliding shelves and deep drawers that can store up to 80 kg., including trays and racks. Optimal use of the space beneath the work surface offers functional solutions, such as a folding ironing board that can be pulled out from inside a cupboard, thus solving storage problems Tips - important choices 1) The optimal direction for kitchen windows to face is eastwards. The sun will shine in at you in the morning and will bathe your eating and cooking area with warm, gentle light, giving you an encouraging start to your day. The addition of a coffee bar for your morning brew would be a wonderful bonus in an east-facing kitchen. 2) The size of the kitchen depends on your requirements, of course, but in an ideal world it should be at least three meters long and a minimum of 1.8 meters wide in order to incorporate a minimum of the necessary components. Take into account that a kitchen that is too large is also not comfortable to use, and you will tire yourself out running around. The best idea is to come up with convenient, compact storage solutions for a medium-sized, efficient kitchen of about 10 sq.m. 3) Since the kitchen is one of the most expensive areas of the house, pay a good deal of attention to its planning, and to choosing and designing its components. These can improve your quality of life and raise the value of the house. 4) The material from which the bare bones of the kitchen are built is essential. Chipboard covered with melamine is acceptable in Europe, but in Israel it will absorb moisture from the walls and the floor and will be liable to disintegrate. A better option is to build the kitchen from plywood boards covered in Formica that will better stand the test of time. Metal fixtures are also important, so make sure that the quality of the metal is good, in order to avoid rusting or erosion. 4) Don't forget about lighting. For you to be able to function safely and comfortably within your kitchen, you will need decent lighting. Direct illumination of the work surfaces is advisable, preferably from the ceiling and from underneath the top row of cupboards. An exhaust hood that incorporates lighting is a very useful feature above your cooking area. Improve the general atmosphere in the kitchen by adding a number of light fittings that can be turned on and off individually. This will give you a bright room and let you create different atmospheres to suit various situations and moods.

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