From a space that was once relegated to the back of the house for maximum ventilation and to keep it away from prying eyes of nosy neighbors, the kitchen has now acquired a place of pride in a home. It has grown to become a space where the family gathers together at the end of the day and shares a meal. It has become an extension of the living area and more often than not is a space where guests are entertained as well. From being a room that was just utilitarian in nature, the modular kitchen of today has evolved to give equal importance to both aesthetics as well as functionality. Kitchens today have several themes – each of which is supported by a superlative choice of materials, colour palettes, well-planned layouts and modular fittings that create a space worthy of showing off.
Gita Ramanan, Chief Design & HR Officer, DESIGN CAFE says that kitchens have been the very heart of our homes for years; but with the trend of modular kitchens here to stay, there is a renewed interest in the nuances of modern modular kitchen design. There are various permutations and combinations possible.
Aravind S Kashyap, Managing Director, OAKTREE, says, “Every kitchen is unique and I believe a kitchen designed for functionality using high quality materials is timeless. A kitchen is also a very personal space for that one person who is its frequent user. As designers we should empathise with that family and our designs should translate into providing solutions for that family. A kitchen designed this way will stay fresh through changing trends”. Here are some of the latest approaches to kitchen design that designers are recommending.
When trying to keep up with times and trends, for an already established and functional kitchen, Kirit Joshi, Founder Director, Spacewood Furnishers, Nagpur, suggests simple, yet, effective changes. “Start with the cabinet shutters and have them changed to improve the life of kitchen cabinets” he says. “With wood as the base material, use a combination of currently popular finishes to change the look of the kitchen.
Alok Duggal, Founder & COO, Homestudio, believes that accents play a very important part in any room. “From changing the façade of your storage doors to adding a shine board on the wall or a few Mediterranean tiles to changing the shape of the chimney, all these help in adding character. Neutral themes and a traditional style rather than a contemporary or a super modern style, helps maintain the balance without ever making a kitchen look outdated.
Integrated storage and workstations are trending in current times. Combining appliances and workstations into the design of a kitchen helps creates a sense of flow and cohesion”, says Pankaj Sharma, President, Johnson Bathrooms Johnson Kitchens, H&R Johnson.Gita Ramanan suggests playing with the backsplash. She says, “Forget those boring ceramic tiles for the backsplash in the kitchen. Either match the countertop material with the backsplash, creating one unbroken statement; or create a contrast by bringing in the colours and patterns here. It’s a small area, so opting for a vibrant mosaic or decorative tile in a colour that will contrast with the neutral colours that may be used for kitchen shutters and pull-outs will create a striking kitchen that is completely unique.
MATERIALS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE
“Choice of materials is a very important decision,” believes Aravind Kashyap. “One, for the overall build quality of the product in order for it to last long and two, the material should provide lasting enjoyment. Different areas in a kitchen requires different materials. Cabinets coming in contact with water requires waterproof materials, countertops need be non-porous for the purpose of hygiene, shelves should be able to handle the heaviest crockery, doors should be easy to clean and resist minor nicks. We are increasingly working with lacquers for its ability to provide unlimited colour options and natural veneers for the warmth it brings into your home.
Suggesting specific materials is Gita who says that for countertops, the best materials are granite and engineered marble that come in a variety of colours and textures. They do not absorb colour or water, they are scratch-resistant and can be flexible in terms of design. Concrete is another material that is gaining popularity with its excellent resistance to water, stains, scratches, and durability, but good layers are still few and far between.
Alok Duggal finds that the kind of materials that are popular is quite fluid. Currently, he finds that there are two materials which have stood the test of time and gives the impression that they are here to stay. The first one being glass (in fronts and dado) for its eternal beauty and resilience. The second being the lacquer (matte/gloss) finishes available in a huge colour palettes.
Dr. Francesco Verdini, Export Manager, Pedini at Global Living Emporio, Bangalore speaks of Fenix Laminate for doors and working surfaces.This is a super opaque nanotech material that combines elegant aesthetic solutions with technological performance. It has antifingerprint features and at the same time is liquid repellent and mould-proof, highly resistant to scratches, rubbing and dry heat as well as it significantly reduces the bacterial load making its surface hygienic and easy to clean. Also available is Gres (ceramic) for doors and working surfaces. This material is characterised by high resistance to heat, chemicals, abrasion, bending and fully suitable for food. The kitchen door fronts are realized with ultra-thin panel attached to an aluminium frame making the door light and durable at the same time.
Pankaj Sharma speaks of lacquer explaining that it is a bright material available in several colours, comprising a fibreboard panel coated with polyester and polyurethane paints. The lacquer finish can be matt, gloss or metallic, and covers the entire surface. Lacquer is more delicate than laminate but it accentuates the look of the kitchen manifold. He also speaks of Quartz countertops.
Kirit also suggests veneer, an evergreen material has been used extensively with changing trends. For base materials - HDF and plywood are commonly used materials.
Among the most important aspects that needs attention in a kitchen is being able to make the most of the space that you have. Most regular kitchen users will tell you that no matter how big the kitchen, there is almost always a dearth of space when it is used on a regular basis. This is probably due to an inefficient use of space.
Built-in appliances and accessories that fit on the backsplash/ dado area are very trendy nowadays, observes Gita. With exposure to different cuisines, the aspirational Indian consumer is integrating at least few such units into their kitchen to be able to tackle different recipes. Built in microwaves, built-in OTGs, fryers integrated into the counter, induction and gas stoves, toasters, coffee-makers, juicers, etc. getting concealed within appliance garages are a trend that frees up the kitchen counter, keeps it clutterfree, finds a place for everything and makes the kitchen look larger too.
She suggests opting for 80 per cent of drawers over shutters in your kitchen. Drawers are great for saving space and making all things completely accessible unlike shutters. The variety of drawer pull-out components that are available make it easy to plan for every kind of storage you need, from larger kitchen store items (pantry pull-out units, larder tall units), cutlery pullouts (cutlery, small bowls and thali organizers), bottle and oil pullouts, grain pullouts for storing larger quantities of staples and your workhorse of storage - the 2-drawer pullout.
Kirit believes that there is currently a demand for corner units to make the most of space utilization in a kitchen. Tall units are also the order of the day when it comes to effective and smart storage.
Dr. Franscesco advocates pocket doors systems, where the doors fold into side pockets. Inside it is an organized space to contain and support activities in the kitchen. Using units with pull-out mechanism with adjustable shelves ensures that both practical and functional elements of the kitchen are provided and to meet the demands of our changing lifestyles. The Tandem mechanism is technically advanced and allows an easy access to things.
Coupled with efficient appliances, the kitchen can now be a space where the entire family hangs out. Designs make the space an inclusive one, allowing ample room for cooking as well as entertaining. A few smart choices are all it takes.