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Style Guide for the Sophisticated Kitchen
Top Five Trends Taking the Lead in Kitchen Design
By Paolo Bertazzoni
8/7/09

The kitchen design business continues to be in rapid motion, with new appliances, furniture, and cabinetry hitting stores almost daily. But while these plentiful product and style options present a vast array of choices when it comes to design, even the savviest consumers may find it difficult to keep up with the latest trends.

Whether seeking an upgrade, a remodel, or simply a new cooking device, sophisticated homeowners can benefit greatly from a simple list of guidelines to help them navigate the interior design process. Today, the following five trends are taking the lead in contemporary kitchen décor:

1. Streamlined Appliance Integration
More and more consumers are adopting a kitchen style that integrates new appliances into existing cabinetry. The European market has already been moving towards complete incorporation of appliances for 20 years, and shows no sign of shifting back to freestanding concepts. In the United States, kitchen product categories are evolving at different speeds, but the industry as a whole is offering a record number of options for integration. Dishwashers, for example, offer a high percentage of product assimilation applications, while distinctive cooking and ventilation products are still considered to provide kitchens with a unique character. The consumers, of course, reserve the right to determine their preferences, but many are now favoring the elegant feel appliance integration brings to their home.
2. The Rise of the Dual-Fuel Range
The dual-fuel option has, in fact, matured from a trend to a standard choice in the premium segment of the market. With the convenience of an electric self-clean oven and the direct-heat control of a gas cook top, this versatile product appeals to an expanding audience. While homeowners must continue to see the extra cost of a dual fuel as a viable investment in order for the product to maintain growth, the ranges have a strong value offering that is likely to keep alluring stylish consumers.
3. Stainless Steel Is Here to Stay
The global market has found a “lingua franca” (common language) when it comes to appliance material: stainless steel. Smooth and classic, it remains the most popular finish for kitchen products. However, manufacturers cannot stand still, as they continue to improve the appearance, quality, finishing, and feel of stainless steel. They have innovated its processing to provide more contours and shaping. Tasteful color accents can also modernize the material’s timeless look.
4. The Kitchen: Hub of the Home
The kitchen has become the residential equivalent to the social networking hub – a place where people gather to chat and further relationships. It therefore needs to be comfortable, cozy and hospitable. Whether a home allows for a large kitchen space or a small compact area, it needs to be designed as a central meeting place. As a result, manufacturers are offering small appliances with the same capability as larger models, able to perform for big groups. These innovative products are compact yet powerful, providing homeowners with cutting-edge technology packaged in a convenient size that will make room for plenty of guests.
5. Shifting to Green
The concept of eco-consciousness is sweeping consumer industries, and the kitchen marketplace is no exception. Manufacturers are continually challenging themselves to make their appliances more environmentally friendly. This challenge applies to materials, processes, and appliance performance, as well as recycling. In the future, energy efficiency will not merely be an upgrade option for kitchen products—it will be a standard feature.

From size to color, from function to surface finish, this year offers the consumer an unprecedented array of options when it comes to kitchen design. And as manufacturers continue to raise the bar for appliances, homeowners will reap the benefits of improved cooking, enhanced home style, and ultimately, a heightened standard of living.

Paolo Bertazzoni is the fifth-generation president of the family-owned Bertazzoni company, the leading Italian manufacturer of precision-engineered kitchen lifestyle products.

Kitchens created by Design Studio West