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As the central hub of our home, it makes sense that we're constantly trying to shape and improve the functionality of our kitchen space. Large or small, old or new, the best kitchens allow us to experience life with bright, stylish lighting and easy access to everything. Today's trends are focused on supercharging illumination and efficiency in smart, new ways. Whether you're planning a major remodeling project or just a few simple improvements, these ideas will help you create a better place to live and entertain.
1. Hidden Storage
Much discussion is heard about design elements that improve the aesthetics of the kitchen such as choosing quartz vs. granite countertops or painted vs. stained cabinetry. New product designs blend a great look with imaginative storage options. Today's cabinetmakers are aware of consumer demand for more storage and easier access to it. Deep base cabinets that were once impossible to retrieve items lost in the back now feature full-extension, roll-out shelves.
Pullout wastebasket and salvage bins are built into cabinetry and are a popular way to conceal kitchen refuse and provide an easy recycling routine.
Daily-use items are camouflaged by appliance garages that keep everything from microwaves to all-in-one kitchen sets within easy reach. These ingenious cabinet features provide a clutter free countertop area with plenty of room for meal preparation.
Customized cabinets with drawer inserts enhance function for shallow or deep drawers. Dividers separate sections to allow mixing and matching within the same space. Flatware and cooking utensils can be neatly organized in the same drawer and stay that way. No more hunting through a mess of spice jars as dedicated drawer positions each bottle for easy identification and retrieval.
The pilaster area, aka the gap between cabinets, is no longer an underused or wasted space. Pullout pilasters conceal racks for cookie sheets, pizza pans, dish towels and even oven mitts. This secret hiding space makes perfect sense for those hard-to-store items.
2. Open Storage
The latest trends in custom kitchens are highlighting walk-in pantries and pantry pullouts that are used to store everyday food items, dishes and even small appliances. Room size is no problem as these resourceful storage solutions can utilize simple wire shelving or stylish custom drawers and cabinetry.
No wine cellar available? No problem with new wine rack and china displays tucked into smart spots like the end of islands or above the sink.
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Decorative, floating shelves are taken straight from vintage kitchen designs and provide a place to display ornamental dishes, vases or cookbooks. These, too, will keep your granite countertops clear while breaking up the monotony of ordinary cabinets.
Another kitchen design concept that's taking hold is the addition of dedicated storage walls. Floor-to-ceiling cabinetry is positioned to one area of the room to create a more open space. Efficiency improves by making this the go-to spot for everyday needs and reducing steps to prepare meals or entertain. Combination layouts include glass doors and open shelving to create a beautiful focal point for your special heirloom curios.
3. Decorative Lighting
If you haven't looked for lighting in a while, you'll be surprised at the variety of styles available today. Consider mixing and matching a variety of styles, colors and textures to blend function and ambiance to the most popular room in the house. Retrofit kits are also available, so you won't need to rewire your entire kitchen to create a new look every time you want to update.
Workspace task lighting is now available in beautiful designs that match any decor. By placing these fixtures 30 inches above a cooking surface, sink, table, countertop or island, you'll easily see every word on Grandma's favorite cookie recipe.
Pendant and mini-pendant lamps are all the rage today. These hanging fixtures can be used in clusters or alone, come in an endless variety of colors, styles and shapes. Glass shades are popular in bright or muted hues and can be easily changed to create a new look anytime you want. Positioned over islands, tables and sinks, they'll brighten the space for tasks or a dimmer switch can be added to create some mood lighting.
4. Utility Lighting
Recessed or can lights provide the perfect amount of illumination for anything you need to do. Placing the units 24 to 42 inches apart will ensure clear visibility throughout the entire room. Split them to operate on separate switches to save electricity when only one area of the room needs lighting.
Undercabinet lights ensure good visibility as the fluorescent bulbs provide even lighting across the countertop. Low-profile designs are available to keep the edges hidden from sight. Make sure to select daylight bulbs to keep colors true and food appealing.
Take care of those hard-to-see spots by installing new puck lights that use xenon, halogen or LED bulbs. They can be operated with a micro switch or motion sensor to light the inside of cabinets or pantry area. These can also be used as accent lighting inside glass cabinets to display a warm glow instead of glare.
5. Natural & Green Lighting
Don't forget to use the power of sunlight whenever possible. Open window treatments during daytime hours and remember that cabinet color will affect how many lights you need. Light colored countertops, doors and walls will reflect light and allow you to reduce the wattage on bulbs or even the number of fixtures needed. Choosing dark surfaces will add contrast to the room but will require extra illumination as more light will be absorbed.
Green technology is guiding new and improved lighting options such as compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and LEDs. These are more affordable, use less energy, produce less heat and last longer.
By integrating even a few of these amazing storage and lighting solutions into your kitchen, you'll maximize efficiency, update your style and make your life easier. Not only will your kitchen be the envy of all your friends and neighbors, but when you're ready to sell your home, you'll receive an exceptional return on investment.