by C. Rosenberg
Kitchen upgrades are no longer exclusively about new cabinets and appliances. In 2021, a kitchen upgrade most likely includes ‘smart’ in some capacity or other.
With all the work that goes on a kitchen – be it meal planning, food prep, or cleanup – introducing smart to your kitchen will increase efficiency and decrease your workload.
Continuous advances in technological applications include innovation in personal items, homes, and businesses. There’s no reason why your kitchen shouldn’t be in on the game.
Whether you choose to turn your kitchen into a digital hub or you want to maintain the old style feel with a bit of technological convenience, we have some great ideas to get you going.
Meal prep is, by definition, hands on – and that means getting your hands wet and sticky. What if you need to figure out how many ounces 34 grams are? Or how to substitute a missing ingredient? Not a great time to get hands on with Chef Google and get your phone sticky. This is where voice commands come in.
Siri, Alexa, and similar tech buddies will be happy to assist you. All you need to do is ask your question verbally and you’ll get your answers over your smart speakers.
You’ll need a mic and speaker to communicate with your tech friends in the kitchen, hook up to your choice of kitchen tech friends (Alexa and Siri are the most popular choices) and you’re good to go.
You can also use voice commands to add food items to your grocery list, and demand that your r smart gadgets start working or shut down.
You can also choose to have your favorite music pipe through the speakers to bring some cheer into the room.
The versatility and usefulness of a smart fridge means that it lead in smart kitchen trends. What if you could stroll down the supermarket aisle without scratching your head and wondering whether you still have 4 dozen eggs in your refrigerator, or if you need to stock up. With a smart fridge, you don’t have to rely on your somewhat faulty memory. Simply open your phone and communicate with your fridge to hear about its contents.
You can also ask your fridge for meal ideas based on the refrigerator’s contents. And how about this: Your fridge can help you keep track of expiration dates so that spotty fruit and spoiling milk are a thing of the past.
You can also create a family calendar and recipe index, display your favorite family photos, and scrawl messages for yourself or your family on the refrigerator’s smart board.
Done to Perfection
What’s it like to walk in the front door after a long day at work and be greeted with the aroma of a freshly cooked dinner? What’s the hack? A smart oven. Set your oven to go whenever you want it to, so that meals are ready just about when you walk into the home.
You can also share a picture of your desired dinner dish with your oven, and it’ll select the best cooking method, time, and temperature to get your dinner to look and taste just like that award winning dinner.
Wouldn’t it be nice if someone else did the mopping for you? Well, you can have someone – make that something – get your floors spick and span. Prices for mop and vacuum bots are pretty reasonable and do quite a decent job at keeping your floors clean. You may need to program your bot initially, but after you set it up the right way, it’s pretty independent, and will surprise you with clean floors you didn’t have to wet your hands to clean.
So, what are you going to about smart kitchens? How are you going to bring more smarts into your space?
by C. Rosenberg
Ergonomics is quite the buzzword for anyone in interior design. If you’re renovating your kitchen anytime soon, it should be your buzzword as well. With all the lifting, bending, stretching and squatting going on during meal prep and cleanup, you want to make sure that your kitchen is designed with your needs in mind.
Lots of back pain and sore muscles in the neck and shoulder areas result due to a lack of ergonomic planning in the kitchen.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The first thing you’ll want to do to get your kitchen functioning in an ergonomically efficient manner, is to clarify what your needs are in the kitchen, which gadgets and tools you use most often, and how much everything weighs.
You can categorize your usage of items as daily, frequently, or rarely.
Items that are used daily should be within easy reach at the area it’ll be used, those used rarely can be in a more difficult to access place (such as very high or very low shelves), and frequently used items should be someplace in between.
You also want to keep in mind how well you can deal with the weight of any given item. Ideally, heavy items should be kept between hip and shoulder height to avoid over-stretching. Light items (such as cereal boxes) can go into less accessible areas (since you’ll mind a lot less if a box of cereal drops on your toes, than you will if an electronic mixer does).
Pull out drawers, Lazy Susans, and multi-tiered storage racks, also work wonders in alleviating the ‘deep reach’ and ‘deep bend’ positions: It means that your items reach out to you instead of you having to bend yourself into weird shapes to get to them.
The jury is still out whether bottom – freezer – top – fridge are better for your back, or the side by side version is the magic answer to your ergonomic ills.
Both serve to eliminate frequent bending by allowing you to keep more frequently used items within easy arms reach. Many refrigerators also allow you to reconfigure placement of drawers: Utilize that flexibility to organize your refrigerator’s contents well.
Even more important than the refrigerator, is the sink. That’s where many of us spend a chunk of time scrubbing charred pots clean. While deep sinks may be a nice hideaway for your dirty dishes, a shallow, raised sink gives you more leverage for your comfort.
If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, and are spared from long hours at the sink, an elevated dishwasher can save your back as well. If space is an issue, you can create a drawer for storage beneath the dishwasher, and then enjoy breezy loading and unloading without constant stooping.
You may consider a wall oven, with strategic height placement, if you spend lots of time baking. This will go a long way in alleviating all that stooping which comes with a free-standing range oven.
Electrical outlets too, should be strategic in the kitchen. Multiple outlets next to areas where you store your appliances mean that you don’t have to lug your appliances around the kitchen to get them plugged into an outlet.
Most of us tread an untold number of miles in the kitchen on a daily basis – yet we don’t necessarily give our floors the attention they deserve. While ceramic tiles are wildly popular in the kitchen, that doesn’t mean they are good for anything more than aesthetics. Wood and rubber floors go a far longer way in keeping you balanced and comfortable while going about your kitchen tasks.
Since hardwood flooring is quite the thing in kitchens today, they are a great choice for both ergonomic and aesthetic reasons. As far as rubber flooring goes, a large rubbery expanse in your kitchen is not that attractive. A great alternative is rubber mats strategically placed at heavy-traffic points such as your stove and sink.
by C. Rosenberg
Kitchens were once all about functionality. Today’s homemakers want efficiency, durability, and aesthetics. Whether you’re rolling out cookies, dicing veggies, or otherwise prepping meals, chances are that you’re working on a countertop. Since countertops make for a large percentage of working surface in most kitchens, it’s important to choose them well.
Here’s a breakdown of the different types of countertops, and what you can expect from each one.
There’s a reason why granite countertops are high in-demand. Once a pricey option, granite prices have declined in recent years, making it an affordable option with a luxury look. Available in hundreds of colors and patterns, you’re sure to find a granite pattern that matches your personal style and your kitchen. Unlike other stone countertops, granite is hardy, scratch resistant, and tolerates heat well. However, granite is a porous material and should be sealed before installation so that it won’t absorb liquids and food remnants.
Renowned for its beautiful veining and elegant appeal, marble countertops are your top choice if it’s the luxury look you’re after. No two slabs of marble are the same, so your kitchen will always be ‘one of a kind’. Due to its formidable price tag, some homeowners utilize marble for an island, or select countertops, and use granite or quartz for other countertop surfaces. Additionally, marble is high maintenance, with stains and scratches showing easily. Being that it’s porous as well,marble countertops must be sealed annually to maintain beauty and longevity. The upside is that marble is heat-resistant and will never show your guests evidence of hot pots that were placed on countertops.
Quartz countertops are relatively new, but it is increasing in popularity. An engineered stone which is available in a vast range of colors,
quartz is hardier than natural stone and naturally scratch resistant. Since quartz is non-porous it doesn’t absorb liquid and food remnants, and therefore doesn’t breed bacteria. Some liken the design to marble, yet it doesn’t need the high-maintenance care that marble does.
Butcher block countertops are a great eco-friendly option for those who like natural and earthy. The countertop is made of wooden boards and provides a warm, inviting feel. There are plenty of wood types to choose from, like maple, oak, and walnut.
However, butcher block countertops are high-maintenance. Ideally, they should be sealed and cleaned with gentle cleaning supplies. The good part is, that in case of damage, butcher block countertops can be easily restored.
Once primarily found in commercial kitchens, stainless steel countertops are gaining popularity with residential homeowners. A bit more on the pricey end, they are available in a variety of finishes such as satin, mirror polish, brushed metal, and antique matte.
Durable, stain resistant, heat tolerant, and easy to clean, stainless steel countertops take a nice amount of abuse. However, they aren’t perfect. They show scratches more easily than other surfaces, and can get dented with heavy use.
Laminate countertops are the most economical choice of all countertops, and are available in many colors, patterns, and textures. While they aren’t delicate, laminate countertops do have a shorter life span than other materials, and are susceptible to burns. You may also find that stains from deeply colored food sets in and can’t be cleaned. Water seeping through the seams can cause deterioration over time as
well. So, while laminate countertops are a popular choice for homeowners on a budget, most people with some cash to spare will go for one of the other options mentioned above.
by C. Rosenberg
Enticing smells coming out of your kitchen are sure to award you with a homemakers’ awards, but what you may not realize is that culinary efforts also result in less-desirable elements. Moisture, grease, odors, and heat from stove-top food preparation are not things you want stagnating in your kitchen. The good news is that you can prevent it with a good ventilation system.
How to Vent
There are two types of vent systems: Ducted and Ductless. Ducted systems move air out of the kitchen, whereas ductless systems suck up the air to filter it.
The benefits of a ducted system are pretty obvious: Your air gets really nice and clear. However, in order to make use of that benefit, you’ll be somewhat limited in where you can place the vents. You’ll need to have pipes leading to an exterior passage. Ductless vents are generally found in commercial kitchens.
Ductless vents don’t need pipes with access to the outdoors, and are therefore easier to place in the kitchen. (You will need to replace the filter on a ductless vent, but that is a pretty simple task.)
Choose Your Vent
Choosing hoods for your venting system can be fun. Although the purpose of a hood is functional, manufacturers don’t forget about aesthetics when it comes to hoods. Here are some popular options:
Under-cabinet hood is pretty popular and compact. This can be mounted directly beneath the cabinet which sits above your stove top, and
blends into the design quite seamlessly. It’s important to have exact measurements of the cabinet before purchasing this type of vent, as
you’ll need it to fit perfectly.
These hoods can provide both ducted and ductless systems. In the case of a ducted system, the hood will be on an exterior wall, and either have a direct line to duct pipes leading outdoors, or there will be duct pipes leading out through the cabinet above the hood.
Over-The-Range Microwave with Vent
If you keep your microwave above your stove top, you might want to look into a hood-microwave combination. These styles feature a built-in vent fan on the underside of the microwave that serves as a vent. The combination of microwave and vent allows one appliance to perform dual functions, saving you space.
Wall-mounted hoods are directly attached to the wall above the range, and will most likely be higher than a cabinet-mounted hood. Although they may be more expensive than under-cabinet ranges, wall mounted ranges are available in a large variety of styles and will add oomph to your kitchen.
What if you have a stovetop on an island, or another area doesn’t lean against a wall? Ceiling mounted hoods are the answer. You can find them in many different styles and materials (think copper, glass, ceramic, etc.) and can easily turn into the focal point of your kitchen.
Most models require an exterior duct system. The good news is that since the hood is attached to the ceiling, you can find a direct line outdoors, and don’t need to install pipes in cabinets.
Downdraft Vent Hood
A less common – yet very effective – ventilation system is called a downdraft hood. This product is hidden in your stovetop, and can be
pulled out as necessary. It pulls air to back of the cooktop through built-in vents to filter your kitchen air. Since this is hidden much of the time, (and pretty small even when not), it won’t alter the look of your kitchen much.
by C. Rosenberg
Tiny is the new grandiose. Cool people around the country are embracing minimalism by building tiny houses, and even tinier kitchens. They own just one wooden spoon and bowl for eating, and a pull-down table — or no table at all. So, if you’ve got a small kitchen, consider yourself trendy.
Here’s how to get the most out of your limited space.
The ceiling is your new friend.
Hang your pots and pans from a rack on the ceiling, and you’ve just saved yourself a whole bunch of drawers.
Worried it’ll look odd? Snazz it up by buying a matching set of pots so it looks tidy—red, blue, copper, cast iron, or whatever you prefer. Think of it this way: It’s another way to accessorize your kitchen and enjoy your beautiful cookware.
Walls are your friends too. Put up pegboards, hooks and nails, or small shelves, and make use of these empty spaces.
And if you want to get really clever, put wheels on your island so you can roll it to the side when your family is crowding you in the kitchen.
Yes, this part will be tough.
But no, we will not settle for having a toaster, mixer, fruit bowl, coffee maker and microwave cluttering your precious counter space. An appliance garage will solve this problem, but what about all the food?
We do need to eat – even in small kitchens.
Here’s the plan: Clever pantry storage.
There’s a ton of dead space in our food cabinets, because of bulky packaging, poor organization, and a bunch of half-full boxes of the same foods. Condense everything by using stackable storage containers that fit neatly into each other. Buy some pretty storage containers that you can display or hang on wall racks. Now’s when your food becomes an accessory too! Spices, with all their rich colors, also make for fun decor.
As for cleaning supplies, garbage bags and towels, turn the space under your sink into a treasure trove by buying an expandable organizer with levels and pullouts. This is a cheap way to create a set space for each item.
To make the space look larger, keep decor straight and simple. Now is when you want to say no to elaborate engraving and heavy colors. Go with light shades, knock down as much wall as you can, and turn a jutting countertop into a table so you don’t need to fit another piece of furniture into your space. See if you can buy translucent bar stools to go with it. This won’t clutter your kitchen with deep colors as it’ll more likely fade into the background.
Your floors can also be part of a magic solution. Use oversized diamond designs, chevron patterns, or dark and light thick stripes to enlarge the space. And go crazy on lighting. Put in pot lights, under-cabinet lights, or enlarge windows. Any kind of extra light you add can transform the feel of the tight space.
Now its time to invite your family and friends to show them your hip, minimalist design. Just make sure to invite them in shifts so that they can all fit inside your kitchen at once.
by C. Rosenberg
While aesthetics in a kitchen are what keep us turning the Better Home and Gardens pages, at the end of the day layout is way more important for kitchen efficiency. After all, that’s what enables us to prepare those delicacies that make our family and guests wipe their plates clean.
Here are 5 of the most popular kitchen layouts for you to consider.
With counters and work-spaces hugging three walls, the U-shape kitchen gives you plenty of cabinets and counter space without using a ton of floor space. Not only does this mean that you can organize all of your kitchen possessions well, but also that you can have multiple people in the kitchen. You’ll also find that everything you need while cooking and baking is pretty close to where you are.
The U-shape kitchen works extremely well with the now-popular open floor plans, as one wall can be left open to a dining room, living room, or family room.
The L-shaped kitchen consists of countertops on two adjoining walls that are perpendicular, forming an L. This layout is similar to the U-shape in its ability to optimize countertop space, and in the fact that it leaves at least one side open to other living spaces. This is a great option if you can only have a small or medium sized kitchen, as it allows for an airy feel without dominating lots of space. You can also add a raised bar to one side of the L to provide extra seating or standing room.
Two parallel walls and sets of countertops with a walkway in between them are what define a galley kitchen. While this layout is losing the
popularity contest to open floor plan, it still has its fans. If you don’t want to dedicate too much space to your kitchen, this may be your answer. Ideal for ‘one cook’ households, the galley kitchen makes great use of every square inch. The galley layout also keeps the kitchen mess contained to the kitchen. Additionally, galleys mean no troublesome corner cabinets to configure (and thus no hidden cabinetry costs).
Islands are work stations in the center of a kitchen, and often include appliances or a sink, and cabinetry for storage. Most kitchens with enough space to accommodate an island, have one, because they are so wonderful.
In addition to increased work surface for the kitchen which hosts multiple cooks, islands provide space for ‘specialty areas’ such as a baking area, or as a dining area. Often the island is also a great focal point in the middle of a large kitchen, and the island is designed with extra moldings or some other aesthetics.
As its name suggests, a peninsula is a connected island. This works well in an L kitchen, and sometimes in a large galley kitchen. While it offers most of the benefits an island offers, it can work in smaller spaces, whereas an island needs more space.
Before deciding on your kitchen layout, think about what you use your kitchen for, and how large the space you’re working with is. These answers will help you make a decision on which kitchen layout will work best for you.
by C. Rosenberg
Summer’s heat likely has you wanting out of the kitchen, but these trends are just too good to put off sharing. And after you’ve had your share of flipping burgers at the grill, you’ll appreciate knowing what indoor kitchen trends offer.
Tech in Time
Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator is a tech lover’s favorite. If you’re a kitchen lover as well, this is pay dirt. With a touch screen, interior camera, and WiFi connectivity that allows you to search recipes based on the fridge’s content, you can see your refrigerators contents while you’re shopping. You can also leave notes and reminders to family members on the refrigerator’s board, making this one smart addition to your household.
How’s that for tech that seamlessly integrates trends, functionality and real needs into one major appliance? Available in a variety of styles, this sleek, stainless steel fridge is sure to be your family’s best friend beyond forever.
Nature in A Rug
Are you like most of us modern human species who don’t spend enough time outdoors? We know you’ve read enough compelling blogs about the benefits of spending more time outside. We also know it hasn’t quite happened yet.
Well, we’re reversing the trend and telling you to bring nature indoors. How? Choose a durable rug in bright, fresh colors. Yup, we’re still in the kitchen. And no, we won’t tell anyone that you were thinking living room for just one confused moment. In 2019, rugs are wherever they can do something huge for your space. And today, it means kitchens.
Fill that Space
Would you guess that the couple of inches between the refrigerator and wall, or between the oven and counter can be put to better use than a catch-all for tiny Lego pieces, random pens, and runaway coins?
Pull out cabinets are a much better use of the space. Lined with shelves from top to bottom, pull out cabinets are a great way to keep shelf stable products easily accessible and organized. Depending on the size of your roll out, you can keep spices, cans, oils, cooking utensils – or any kitchen collection, really – in this little hideout.
Capture the Color
Color in the kitchen is here to stay – until the next big thing comes around. Studies have shown that bright hues do a world of good for your mood – so why not be trendy and well-dispositioned at the same time? Here’s an economical way to achieve just that. Upholstering chairs, bar stools, or padded benches allow you to bring a pop of color into your dinette or kitchen work space without breaking the bank.
You can either choose to bring out a color that’s already present in the kitchen, or introduce a new one that complements your kitchen style. Either way, you’ll find newly minted cheer in the heart of the home we call a kitchen.
Appliance garages fell out of fashion quite some time ago. But that was really a disservice to both the humble garage and to homeowners who crave clutter free countertops. Well, its making its comeback in 2019 fashion.
If you use the coffee maker, toaster, or blender on daily basis, you’ll love knowing that you no longer have to lift them into and out of cabinets to achieve a clutter free countertop.
New options for door hinges have led to an appliance garage renaissance. Today, appliance cabinets are made in pop-up, tilt-up, and sliding door style so that your kitchen can remain clutter-free and very much in vogue. You can also incorporate outlets and lighting within the cabinet so that you don’t have to move a single appliance in the slightest.
by C. Rosenberg
Most homemakers find that their thoughts are never far away from their kitchens – and what they can do to enhance it. Here are our top picks in kitchen trends to inspire your dreams.
Raw on the Rise
Nature-inspired is indeed…well, inspirational. That’s probably why the trend in countertops is now driven by natural quartz and stone. The polished, glossy look is moving out, and the raw, rough look is taking its place. It’s not just the ‘look’, though; it’s the texture that is unfinished as well.
With outdoor kitchens on the rise, homeowners are turning toward hardy textures for both indoor and outdoor countertops. This trend is visually appealing and has extra-strength durability – a sure win for the practical kitchen lover.
Color choices continue to be a lot of mix and match, with the marble look – often with heavy veining – trending. Warm whites bring in a hint of freshness without being too cool, and gold, metallic accents add a touch of elegance.
Storage Space Solutions
One of the most valuable commodities in the kitchen is storage space, and at the core of that is easy access. If you need to remove every last pan, tray and dish from your cabinet each time you’re looking for a specific piece, something isn’t right.
Pull outs are just the solution: They bring contents out of the cabinet and into the room. This tray divider does just that, and stores trays in a super neat way. This means that your trays don’t float around the dark depths of your kitchen cabinets, allow you to see what you have, and are super simple to retrieve.
If you’re like many of us mediocre housewives, chaos hides behind your closed doors. But that shouldn’t be reason enough to stop you from trying open shelving. All the rage, this sophisticated alternative to the classic cabinets bring modern, sleek, and spacious to your kitchen. A row of shelves atop your sink or gas range in favor of a wall of upper cabinets leaves you space to just…breathe. Simply line up your dishes and utensils on the shelves, and all excuses for chaos are gone. With utensils easily in sight, functionality definitely rates high.
Glass is a great choice here. You get a glossy, elegant and expansive look regardless of how small your kitchen space may be.
If you’re on a tight budget and still want chic, try this: Remove your cabinet doors and paint over the screw and hinge holes. If you’d like to dare, paint the interior of your cabinets a different color than the exterior. This gives you the wow of open shelving without the cost and hassle of remodeling.
Color Popping Appliances
Thinking of color in the kitchen? You’re probably thinking about cabinets, counters, and backsplashes. But in 2019, we’re daring to take it to appliances. Reds, bright yellow, sky blue, and similar bold colors sure make a statement on appliances – and you can choose to go as busy or as tame as you like within a color frame of reference.
Many manufacturers cater to the retro look and offer appliances in hundreds of choices on the color wheel. Ovens, refrigerators, hoods, microwaves, dishwashers, and other large appliances in all types of cool and zany colors are yours for the taking. To ease into this very drastic switch of colors, you may decide to start with just one appliance to splash color onto your kitchen palette, but once you see those eyeballs pop you’ll want to go for more.
Mix n’ Match Hardware
Nostalgic hardware has made its comeback – with a twist. Chrome, steel, brass and wood combinations are once again seeing the inside of classy kitchens. Hooks, latches, and knobs are all the rage here, with functionality and chic coming together for an “I love it” effect.
A latch is a neat accent on under-sink cabinets or large pantry cabinets which aren’t pulled open that often. Handles and knobs can be used on drawers and central cabinets where ease of access is more important.
Hardware finish is another area you can have fun mixing and matching. The ever-expanding variety of available finishes in hardware gives you plenty to think about. Match matte, shiny, or other finish types in different colors for a cool, modern effect.
Cheers to a facelift that’s fun, simple and inexpensive.
by C. Rosenberg
An exploration of kitchen cabinet color trends
You know how classics have always been well, classic, and by definition, lacking the bling that makes jaws drop? And you know how the colors that have been in yesterday only serve to date our kitchen to an era we may have fond memories of but don’t want to remain stuck in? It’s finally time to roll out the red carpet for a boldness we haven’t seen in decades. After all, shedding winter doldrums and welcoming spring is a lot about out with the old and in with the new.
Exploding Color Box
Do you absolutely love shaking up a box of 164 Crayola crayons and watching color explode? Well, then, 2019 kitchens were designed for you. Surrounded by bold, dramatic style, meal prep – and the fun aftermath called cleanup – turns into a fun experience.
So, what are the actual choices? Light tones are mostly neutral, and project a timeless style, perfectly complementing other elements in the kitchen. Medium hues include standard shades of blue, grey and yellow. Dark shades are bold, and with colors such as emerald green, black, navy, deep plum, etc. they sure make a strong statement.
Manufacturers are meeting demand, and providing cabinet finish colors in nearly every shade of the rainbow, providing homemakers with a delightful candy shopping experience in the gingerbread house of paint colors. This is perfect for consumers who are no longer satisfied with cookie-cutter vanilla and want to express personal style with all the bells and whistles that say: “This is me”.
Are you of the belief that the more color choices the merrier? Here’s some more good news. You don’t have to choose between two color besties: The two-toned kitchen style is peaking.
How to implement the color delight for a winning 2019 statement?
- A bank of eye-popping colored cabinets flanked by neutrals
- Classic neutrals surrounded by power hue
- Contrasting colors for upper and lower cabinets
Beyond the Icebox
Not everyone likes living in a crayon box – but that doesn’t mean they like being confined to the dull ice box of whites and grays we’ve seen the last couple of years. The trick for conservative trendsters is to hold onto classics while easing into the new.
Chances are neutral colors are favorites here. Pairing them with tones of yellow, green, black, navy, or bright ruby as accents allows homemakers to express their individuality without completely letting go of classic conventions.
Another conservative approach is to ramp up color on an island. Since islands are generally breakaway pieces, this gives a kitchen popping character without destroying its fixed identity.
- A budget friendly solution for joining the 2019 up-and-comings is to paint one bank of cabinets super bold.
- The danger in dark colors is that too much of it can be depressing and create the perception of a much smaller room. In order for the style and drama to break through lighter hues in a dark kitchen are important for a nice balance. This can be achieved with light colored countertops, under-cabinet lighting, and an abundance of natural light.