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Wed 20 May 2009 04:00 AM

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Cooking up a treat

Well-designed kitchens can make a massive difference to the value and appeal of any development. CID talks to the experts to formulate a recipe for successful kitchen design.

Cooking up a treat
Purist styles in the Bulthaup B3.
Cooking up a treat
Modern styles are increasingly popular in the Gulf.
Cooking up a treat
A Nobilia kitchen.
Cooking up a treat
Poggenpohl kitchen sideboard, by Porsche.
Cooking up a treat
Integrating electronics.
Cooking up a treat
Drawers designed by Porsche.
Cooking up a treat
Kitchens are seen as a social space.
Cooking up a treat
The floor plan plays a large role in determining the style of the kitchen.
Cooking up a treat
EGOdesign from EuroHouse International.
Cooking up a treat
Metris kitchen from Permaglaze.
Cooking up a treat
There is still room for traditional style kitchens.
Cooking up a treat
The back-to-basics Bulthaup B1.

Well-designed kitchens can make a massive difference to the value and appeal of any development. CID talks to the experts to formulate a recipe for successful kitchen design.As one of the key social spaces in a project, a kitchen can make a vital difference to a prospective client, potentially acting as a deal breaker. As a result, designing a kitchen that truly meets a client’s needs is becoming increasingly important.

However, with the changing nature of the modern kitchen, creating a truly attractive cooking space now requires considerably more planning than simply selecting beautiful units.

“In the past, the kitchen served a utilitarian role where people gathered for the basic purpose of cooking and eating. The kitchen will continue to be a central gathering place in the future, but on a more social level. For example, it has become the room of choice to entertain guests, featuring all the equipment you need,” said Anamika Priyadarshi, retail manager for Better Life, which distributes SieMatic kitchens.

As a result, it is becoming increasingly important for developers to ensure that a kitchen is designed as a ‘feature’, a selling point in itself. Experts recommend the use of well-known brands as a way of increasing the appeal of a kitchen design, since brands can act as a guarantee of quality, something which may have been lacking previously.

“The market has evolved and people are more educated with regards to quality, both in the material and the design. Putting bad or inappropriate products in a project that titles itself as ‘luxurious’ is in many cases no longer accepted by clients,” said Kathryn Pratley, project manager of Kitchens and Beyond.

“Both the bathroom fixtures and the kitchen are the main elements of apartments and houses – if the developer uses brands, the client immediately connects a certain level of quality to the overall product,” she suggested.

“Budgets are constantly going up, mostly in the high-end sector, as it’s no longer possible to sell luxury estate with ‘no name’ interior components, as was previously the case in the Gulf,” agreed Daniel Gianni, brand manager for Bulthaup distributor Al Tayer.

Some kitchen designs can spend several years in development, such as the PWS Metris kitchen, which was distributed in the UAE by Permaglaze after two years of research and development.Other manufacturers have created crossovers with established brands to create unique designs. Poggenpohl supplies the P’7340, designed by world-renowned automobile company Porsche, which in addition to providing a certain level of novelty also means a designer can be confident of the quality of the product.

Tie-ups with companies such as Porsche are indicative of the ever-increasing research that now goes into kitchen design, which in turn provides designers with many more options to create bespoke culinary spaces.

“Kitchens have reached a level of comfort and functionality which was unthinkable a few years back. Soft-closing drawers, pull-outs and doors are now being considered standard in kitchens,” Thomas Klee, area sales manager of Poggenpohl, pointed out.

Open space

With the kitchen becoming a larger feature of a development, there is also a marked trend for non-cooking related innovations to be included in the space.

“Kitchens have become the social nucleus; the kitchen is the centre of the family, not just a working room, but a room for communication, for the meeting of family and friends. The kitchen is equipped with multimedia functions, and is connected to the web and other house functions,” said Klee.

As a result, clients are increasingly demanding facilities that allow the kitchen to be used as a ‘control centre’ for the rest of the building.

“The kitchen will also gain greater control of the rest of the household with touch screen computers allowing consumers to control a variety of aspects of the home, including lighting, heating and cooling, entertainment systems, security and more,” said Priyadarshi.

The kitchen as a social hub also means there will be an overall increase in clients asking for open-plan kitchens, which encourage interaction.“There has been a move from a more classical style to increasingly modern kitchen over the past few years. The kitchen is more integrated into the living space nowadays; not only pure functions dominate the ‘kitchen room’, but are combined with elements such as counters and attached tables. In general, the overall layout of the kitchen can do a lot to determine how ‘sociable’ a kitchen is. The functions are kept discreetly in the background,” said Pratley.

Open kitchens also increase the flexibility of the space. “Another trend can be seen in the expansion of the classic work triangle to provide additional room to welcome the help of a second person when it comes to preparing a meal,” Priyadarshi explained.

As such, the shape of the room in which the kitchen is to be located will play a major role in the eventual design and use of the kitchen.

“Layout of the kitchen depends on the inner dimensions – a small kitchen could be a straight kitchen, a roomier kitchen could either be L shaped or U shaped, with options of an island in the middle or breakfast counter,” said Antony Varghese, general manager of Nobilia distributor Alshaya.

Smooth moves

Although a new kitchen will be installed as an entire unit, it is important to remember that appliances form a key part of the kitchen experience, and the ability to integrate these appliances into the overall room can make a significant difference to the ‘feel’ of a kitchen.

“A good kitchen tends to have all built-in and integrated appliances – modern kitchen design enables the use of built-in appliances and a whole range of built in appliances are available. Stand alone appliances do the same job but are less stylish and often break the design and flow of the kitchen,” Varghese commented.

It is also a good idea to bring in appliances that use the latest technology, since these boost the functionality of a kitchen and thus make it more appealing. “Technology is becoming more and more a part of the kitchen, with ovens that can accurately measure the internal temperature of meat, poultry and liquid-based casseroles, and can automatically convert conventional times and temperatures to their convection oven equivalents; dishwashers that clean with steam and have sensors to determine if plates are clean; and humidity-controlled crispers that add just the right amount of moisture to fruit and vegetables,” explained Priyadarshi. She also suggested that vent hoods were also increasing in popularity, thanks to their function and ability to act as a focal point.

Healthy eating

As to be expected in a space that uses energy and water, kitchens are another area where sustainability is having an impact on product selection. “Along with the kitchen changing to a more social centre, going “green” with appliances and materials is becoming more common,” explained Priyadarshi.Indeed, kitchens are an area where ‘environmentally friendly’ can take on two meanings. There is an increasing focus not only on using materials and appliances that are more sustainable and energy efficient, but also on using materials that will not have a negative impact on the health of the user.

“Some cabinet interiors use pressed woods. The sealants and binders for these woods can experience ‘off-gassing,’ expelling urea formaldehyde into the immediate environment.

“This can be a problem for those sensitive to conditions that affect air quality,” warned Priyadarshi.

With a kitchen fulfilling so many functions, there are real opportunities for designers to create a very versatile space that fully reflects their client’s personality.

“In the current times of worldwide insecurity, people long for more security and homeliness. People are in general becoming more oriented towards ‘wellness’; living at home has to be healthy as well. The trend of ‘homing’ becomes more valuable, hence people in general are willing to put more money into their kitchens nowadays,” said Klee.

Getting the ‘right’ design for a kitchen is crucial. “Kitchen design has a significant effect on the overall value of a project. [It is] a valuable asset; the quality, functionality and accessories should all cater to the comfort and needs of the end-user,” detailed Stergios Tzermias, managing director EuroHouse International.

Designer kitchens will continue to grow in popularity in the future. “Because of all the benefits entailed with having designer kitchens in project, more and more homeowners are plunging in,” said Priyadarshi.

“People who take cooking seriously are usually as passionate about their kitchens as they are about the fruits of their labour. These kitchens make a statement about the person who uses them,” she concluded.

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