As any kitchen and bath designer knows, a good design needs to be aesthetically dynamic and highly functional. Just as important, however, is the need to capture the unique spirit of each client and create a space that will not only reflect the client’s lifestyle, but enhance his or her life.
So many factors can influence the overall look of any given space. In particular, design and material choices are often impacted by the client’s age, gender, family situation and couple status, as well as who is sharing the home, such as elderly parents or young children.
Families today do not operate like their predecessors, and their kitchens need to reflect that.
Busy families and lifestyles mean there is less time to use the kitchen for traditional needs, like cooking, according to Danny Lipford, a Mobile, AL-based remodeling contractor. “With working families, people have less time to cook, and technology continues to decrease the amount of time it takes to prepare a meal,” stresses Lipford. “It’s all about saving time.”
“Whether it is a family of two or six, my clients continually ask for convenient storage, convenient placement of appliances and enough refrigeration storage,” states Robin Denker, owner of Kitchens by Design Gallerie in Westlake Village, CA. “They ultimately ask for seating that is comfortable, where they can watch a flat screen or take in a view – a place where they can linger.”
Indeed, today’s kitchens are multi-functional spaces “where you not only prepare a meal or have a snack, but also do homework and work on your computer. Today’s kitchens encourage family togetherness,” stresses Lipford.
At the core of family life is Generation X, a group busy raising children and running from the job to the soccer field.
“Gen X and their families are always on the go, so it is important to consider design layouts that will help ease their fast-paced lifestyles over a long period of time,” notes Paul Radoy, senior designer for Ann Arbor, MI-based Merillat, who worked as the kitchen designer on a major remodel with Lipford.
“Gen Xers also welcome a taller, bar-height table, as this allows family members or friends to pull up a chair and chat, or a child to work on the latest school project while parents are cooking dinner,” explains Radoy.
“And because there is usually a lot going on in the kitchen, they prefer open floor plans for their kitchens, with peninsulas or galley configurations, flexible pantry storage and other options, like two sinks,” he offers.
Denker reports that his Gen X clients typically have younger children, so they ask for a larger capacity refrigerator to meet their needs.
This generation prefers uncluttered spaces, so creative storage options are important for hiding things like small appliances, Radoy continues.
Uncluttered design is also on the request list for Gen Xers. “Gen X demands true contemporary or transitional contemporary appeal. This means slab doors, some with glass inserts, single colors repeated throughout, stainless or hidden appliances, high-end brand names for appliances, solid color quartz or stainless or concrete counters,” notes Chris Donaghy, managing owner for Lorton, VA-based Kitchen Brokers. “Shine and pizzazz are the key terms when dealing with Gen X.”
In addition to immediate family, extended family and entertaining at home continues to be increasingly important.
“Be it family or party guests, space for others in the kitchen is almost always a request,” stresses Denise Laridaen, owner of Cabinet Creations in Mauston, WI. “Whether it is a child doing homework or a friend visiting while the homeowner cooks, seating and countertop space is needed.”
“Everyone gathers in the kitchen,” she continues. “There is a significant need for seating at an island or peninsula, which will also serve as a buffet space for parties.”