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Trending Open-Kitchen Design

Traditional kitchen design has recently seen a shift to the open-space kitchen design, according to architects and homebuilders.  It’s a trend that was started last year and homeowner’s continue to put focus on designing their kitchen as the main entertainment area of their home.  Homeowners want to use this entertainment area for everyday life and special occasions.

However, designing the open-space kitchen is challenging because it’s so new to the design world.  An open-space kitchen design gives homeowners a lot of entertainment options.    Yet, to achieve this open-space style, there still needs to be definition.  For the open-kitchen design, the focal point is the cooking area and everything around it needs to be within full view of that area.

Architects have to consider clear and sensible geometry, definition of function, wall space for big appliances, and adequate lighting when they design the open-space continuation.  Tom Chafer, a Chicago architect said, “The hardest part is visibility.  It becomes more than just working space, because everything is on stage and exposed.”  In one of his recent open-kitchen designs, he describes his challenges.  It was a 1950s ranch house and to design the entire floor plan, he had to use the existing lines of the home.

He used several elements to separate the cooking area from the living area but still allowed for the focal point to be the cooking area and for clear definition of the kitchen.  He used an oiled English brown oak work island that also served as a centerpiece, bookshelf, storage area, and work surface as to divide the two rooms.  In the original design, the ceiling was high and made of Western red cedar.  He was able to drop the ceiling and give the kitchen intimacy and definition.  Dropping the ceiling allowed for delineation of the cooking area and the installation of recessed halogen lights including dimmers so the kitchen would have both ambient and task lighting.  The homeowners now use their kitchen for all occasions.

In Austin, Texas another home was remodeled to have an open kitchen.  This home had a few challenges, both in its L-shape design and the owner’s request for a fireplace and sitting area to face the kitchen.  The architect placed the kitchen in the right angel of the L.  The architect designed a limestone wall with a large archway as a divider to the kitchen and living room.

The house was originally designed with a family-lodge style and 12 by 12 roof with an 18-foot double-height ceiling.  It was tricky to get the appropriate lighting in there, but the architect accomplished this with a large chandelier and a circular steel tube that had a diameter of 13 feet for housing the lighting track of MR15 spots.  So the kitchen could also have an ambient glow, Old English lanterns were included.  Don Crowell, the general contractor said, “The challenge of an open kitchen is keeping it human.  Even though this one has a lofty ceiling, the experience of the kitchen is a cozy place where you’d like to hang out.”


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