“We have seen some very creative applications for warming drawers, as well,” says Tiefenbacher. “Some high-end home customers use their warming drawers to not only keep meals warm during the cooking process or for late arrivals, but also to pre-warm coffee and tea cups. I have even seen homes that use warming drawers in the bathroom to keep the towels toasty.”
Dowling says that Elmira sells a large number of retro Northstar refrigerators and microwaves for recreation room bars, boathouses, pool cabanas and even bike and hot-rod workshops. “Our Northstar microwave is a combination microwave/convection oven/grill, so it is especially well suited to applications where the need is more for snacks than meals,” he says.
As kitchen equipment permeates other areas in the home, a logical choice for those in a climate that allows is the outdoor kitchen.
“Outdoor kitchens are very popular, especially depending on the region, and you will probably continue to see consumers adding them onto their homes,” says Bashara. “Both cooking and cooling appliances are found in outdoor spaces to match how consumers work, live, play and entertain.”
“Outdoor kitchens are still a big market,” agrees Swenson. “The cooking appliances are the main featured item, and performance and durability are important.”
Kitchen design has evolved from a single work-triangle concept to a series of overlapping triangles with specialty work stations, manufacturers say. “The work triangle hasn’t been replaced completely, but we see more of a variety of kitchen designs,” says Bashara.
Leuthe calls the work triangle a “multifaceted geometric figure,” and says that now that appliances are becoming more integrated, they are no longer limited to a single area. “You can put them where they make sense,” he says.
Sandoval points out that, while consumers may have the “traditional” surface cooking area (gas, electric or induction), it is not uncommon to also have a specialty station, such as a wok station or griddle with its own hood. “This allows for the separation of meals, especially if a consumer has a large party to entertain or only wants to use one area of the kitchen,” she explains.
Open floor plans also contribute to the popularity of work zones, according to Swenson. The work station idea is growing in popularity, but it has to come with kitchen remodeling or new construction, says Swenson.
Advances in refrigerator/freezer technology have brought about new design ideas, according to Sandoval. “Freestanding refrigeration and freezer columns, such as those offered in the Thermador Freedom Collection, allow consumers to place a freezer next to the oven for easy access to meats, and a fresh food column next to the sink for easy preparation of vegetables,” she comments.
Wimberly has heard from designers that, “People want refrigerators to be more horizontal, as opposed to vertical.” This trend speaks to Perlick’s specialty undercounter refrigeration products well. Units are available from 24" up to 72" wide, which allows for flexibility in design and responds to this horizontal trend. Perlick’s products are also rated for food storage, says Wimberly, which allows consumers the option of selecting them as their main refrigerator.
In addition, technology related to food preservation is on the rise. Rowland points to the Frigidaire Pure Air Filter as an industry first. This filter works 24/7 within the freezer and the refrigeration unit to filter the air that is circulating, eliminating odors. ”You open it up and it smells fresh, versus smelling like the garlic or the onion or something else that might be in your refrigerator,” Rowland says.
Sub-Zero is also developing an air purification technology designed to scrub the air of ethylene gas, a gas naturally produced by fruits and vegetables. This process will “clean ‘the box’ of some of those contaminants and ensure food stays fresher longer,” says Leuthe.
As for cooking technology, “Speed cooking has arrived and is here to stay,” says Bashara. “Speed cooking has soared commercially in the past five years,” she reports. “And, as residential trends usually follow commercial kitchen trends, we are seeing the same early signs of fast growth in the residential market. The reality is that we are all trying to squeeze more hours into a 24-hour day.”