How Foodies Approach Kitchen Design

Maybe my love of food comes from my degree in home economics or because I work near Boulder, Colo., which is considered the foodie capital of the U.S. I seem to be part of a sweeping trend to know, love, appreciate and contemplate good food. I’m a foodie. I love the Food Network, celebrity chefs and ordering direct from the farm.

It is no secret that to design good kitchens, it helps to know how to cook. Today’s expanding cultural trend toward healthy eating, exercising and overall well-being has prompted my investigation into how these things will affect our homes, kitchens and the way we live in the next decade. After all, sometimes it’s just one product, one new technology or one new idea that spurs us toward innovation in our designs.

The Slow- and Raw-food Movements

Have you heard of or embraced the slow-food movement or its cousin the raw-food movement? The slow-food vision is defined as an alternative to “… fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and dwindling interest in the food [people] eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.”

The slow-food movement has led to a slow-design movement with the same principles. Clients are taking their time to make decisions around their kitchen remodels. They are more curious about products and processes, more careful in assessing their routines that support the sacred kitchen—asking us for more patience and time with them—and more discerning with their wallets for value-laden projects—requiring that we truly know good value. Good value does not mean cheaper. It means what will last the longest and provide the best satisfaction for the lowest price in the long run.

The raw-food movement has been sweeping the Internet and is advocated by health-food advocates as the way to enjoy nature’s fruits and vegetables in raw form to keep our bodies in top shape. Shopping at the farmer’s market or an organic department has created a demand for the best food preservation tools in today’s kitchens.

Now we understand the importance of Sub-Zero’s dual refrigeration with NASA-designed air filtration, Viking’s Plasmacluster ion air purifier or Liebherr’s BioFresh technology. As designers, remodelers, architects and builders, we can’t just place a refrigerator in a hole while focusing on looks, despite the rebates and special packages being offered to the consumer today. During your visits to showrooms, educate yourself about these new types of refrigerators; these are the staple of a foodie’s kitchen.

Growing Our Own

The role of spices in cooking is increasing in popularity. Therefore, proper storage of spices is important. Spices can be stored in jars supplied in a compartmentalized drawer, such as Bulthaup’s cabinetry version, or strategically placed away from the cooktop to preserve shelf life.

My most recent foodie client asked me to provide an herb garden sunken into a cooking island with a skylight above it. I haven’t addressed the water drainage yet, but a trough sink may do it.

Because today’s kitchens are open to other living spaces in the home, bringing the outdoors in also is becoming more natural. Consider installing a planter that grows tomato plants along the interior window wall facing a deck.

The Small Appliance

Thoughtful kitchen design requires us to determine where the most-used small appliances should be located. These appliances include the coffee machine, blender, electric mandolins, juicers, indoor grills, water-filtration machines and more. Appliances that are gaining in popularity include the Franke electronic scale, which is built into the countertop for homeowners who measure their food’s weight, and Sharp’s under-cabinet kitchen LCD television. The building trade must know about mechanicals, electrical outlet placements and panel requirements for these additional conveniences, as well as whether appliance garages still work.

The steam oven, steamer and speed oven offer low-fat and faster cooking. Careful consideration of the client’s budget and preferences dictate whether these appliances are candidates. Plumbing/drainage lines or additional voltage requirements may need to be investigated, as well.

Mary Collette Rogers, the kitchen coach, exemplifies the foodie mentality and its impact on healthy eating. Her book, Take Control of Your Kitchen, is a dream for cooks and designers alike. Her advice to architects, builders and designers is to provide a well-organized, compact space to prep and cook. Large kitchens may be fine for more than one cook or groups to congregate but not at the expense of sabotaging healthy cooking and eating habits. Check out her Web site at EverydayGoodEating.com.

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