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Home Matters

New Trends in Kitchen Design and Technologies

Eric Goranson, a certified kitchen designer of DeWils Cabinetry, joins Pete and Rob to talk about new innovations in kitchen design.

Pete says there have been a lot of change in how kitchens are designed and used. "Really, these days, kitchens are kind of the centerpiece of the family gathering," he says.

"People are almost entertaining out of their kitchens now," adds Rob.

According to Eric, modern kitchen design has taken advantage of the addition of technology into our everyday lives. "If you think about it, the microwaves, the steam ovens, the warming drawers, the professional ranges, none of that was even a thought [back then]," he says. "'iPad? What's that?'"

He says more companies are building professional-style ranges and including new innovations.

"With all of these new things that are available now, the first thing that happens with a lot of people is, they're thinking about doing a partial or full kitchen remodel," says Pete.

So where does the role of kitchen designer fit in?

Eric says certified kitchen designers can not only redo your kitchen, but "[we] also get you into safety. We're not going to design something that's going to be harmful or dangerous. We're not going to put the cook top up against the side of a refrigerator panel that could catch on fire, if you had a heavy-duty gas cook top, for instance," he says.

He also says designers can create a kitchen that is ideal for "form, fit and function." Having a well-designed kitchen can mean the difference between your prep (between your sink and cooking surface) and cleanup areas working or not working well together.

"You could design a really pretty kitchen that could be absolutely horrific to work in," says Eric.

Retrofitted kitchens ideally come with client input. Eric uses Pinterest to determine likes and dislikes to better design a custom kitchen.

Eric says using custom-built cabinetry can also make a big difference in the functionality of your kitchen. "If you're using stock-size cabinets, you can make it work, but maybe you've got a 5-inch filler; five inches can be a lot of space in a kitchen," he says. "That way, you can add in that trash can pullout or that spice pullout."

Custom cabinets also don't have to be more expensive than stock cabinets.

"In many cases, it's not [more expensive]," Eric says. "You can actually make a custom cabinet these days with the same finish you've got ... you can get that for the same amount of money many times."

Custom cabinets also increase the quality of the furniture. Eric says many stock cabinets are made of particle board, which is less sturdy than the custom-built cabinet wood of choice: plywood.

An element to consider in a custom kitchen is the species of wood for the cabinets. Eric says any species, even the darker ones like cherry and mahogany, can be used as long as the lighting of the kitchen is considered.

"You can really get away with, even in the Northwest, a dark kitchen, as long as you've taken that lighting into account," he says. "If it's well lit and you've got the right countertop surfaces, and the right flooring surfaces, even if you've got that dark cave of a kitchen, you can get away with it as long as it's well-lit."

A new trend in kitchen countertops is NeoLith, which is a porcelain option to traditional granite, quartz or resin-based countertops. Pete says it's been shown to take a beating and still look beautiful.

For those looking at new countertops, Eric helpfully ranks them in terms of price: laminates, entry-level granite and quartz (which are dependent on the color and quality of the stone).

Another trend Eric has seen is the expansion of the kitchen into the dining room. "The kitchen has become such the social hub of the house," he says. "I like to design a space where people can lean and be a part of the conversation of the kitchen - have a cocktail, do whatever they're going to do - but out of the work area."

He has also seen an upswing in the inclusion of technology in the kitchen, such as iPad and phone charging stations and spots for flat-screen televisions, which will no doubt continue.

Home Matters can be heard on KIRO Radio Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Sundays at 6 a.m. Available anytime ON DEMAND at KIRORadio.com.

Cait Walsh, MyNorthwest Writer
Caitlyn Walsh is a regular lifestyles contributor for MyNorthwest. She enjoys reading and hiking, as well as perusing all the cat videos the Internet has to offer.
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