You might call this an open-and-shut competition.
The use of drawers in the kitchen has become one of the hottest new design concepts around, and for good reason: Drawers can maximize space, provide added design flexibility and allow aging Baby Boomers to make their living spaces more accessible.
But it’s not just consumers who love these drawers; the wide variety of applications offer a host of creative design possibilities for kitchen and bath professionals.
This was the concept behind Sharp’s first-ever kitchen design contest, which made the Sharp Insight Pro Microwave Drawer the focal point. The challenge for designers was to create a visually appealing and innovative kitchen design that successfully incorporated one of Sharp’s Insight Pro Microwave Drawer appliances.
Sharp views the competition as a way of not only rewarding designers who have chosen to specify the firm’s products, but also as a way of gaining further insight into how and why design professionals are choosing the drawer over standard countertop models.
“Through this contest, we were able to get a more in-depth look at some of the most exciting and creative ways the Microwave Drawer has been utilized, as the kitchens inspired by our five winners exemplify,” says Christine Lewis, senior director of marketing, appliances, for Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America.
Kitchen design professionals were encouraged to submit photos and written overviews detailing residential projects in which they specified an Insight Pro Microwave Drawer. Winners were chosen by a panel of professors from Virginia Tech’s Center for Real Life Kitchen Design, which included Dr. JoAnn Emmel, associate professor; Dr. Kathleen Parrott, professor and Certified Kitchen Design Educator; and Dr. Julia Beamish, professor and Certified Kitchen Design Educator.
Entries were evaluated based on the use and visual appeal of the Microwave Drawer product, how the Microwave Drawer complemented the overall design of the kitchen and the use of general design elements and principles.
“We reviewed many beautiful kitchens and exceptional designs, and it was a challenge to select just five winners,” says Dr. Emmel, who also cited the microwave drawer as part of a growing trend toward appliance drawers to add space and flexibility.
“We, at the Center for Real Life Kitchen Design, feel the concept of a microwave drawer will continue to grow as more households and designers discover the many benefits of this microwave placement alternative,” she adds.
Winners were announced at the recent Kitchen/Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas. The three top winners received Sharp AQUOS liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions, while designers awarded Honorable Mention received a Sharp Insight Pro Microwave Drawer. All winners were flown out for the event and honored at a cocktail reception held on May 8 at the Las Vegas Hilton.
“I believe a kitchen should work for you – you shouldn’t work for your kitchen,” says Dale Gargiulo of The Kitchen Shop, in Pelham, NY, who won the grand prize for her redesign of a White Plains, NY kitchen. The drawer’s functionality was the principle reason for its inclusion in her design. “While the kitchen should reflect your lifestyle and personality, its ease of use and functionality are key. I always keep that in mind when I begin designing.”
A 25-year veteran of the kitchen design industry, Gargiulo’s entry into the competition was prompted by her client.
The kitchen redesign, an addition, was part of a whole-house remodel in which Gargiulo was involved from the beginning stages, her plans incorporated into the architect’s blueprint.
“There’s always the issue of where to place the microwave,” says Gargiulo. “Putting it on the counter or over the stove isn’t the best place, because you have other considerations like whether children will want to be able to reach it. The drawer system is a great option in cases like that, and I think designers will begin to see this trend grow.”
When planning the addition, the main problem was lack of space and storage. “The kitchen was not very user-friendly,” says Gargiulo, adding that space was so tight, there wasn’t even room for a communal table. In building out, Gargiulo designed with the storage-starved in mind, filling the room with granite countertop eating areas, a breakfast center, book shelves and broom closets. She specified Luxor frameless cabinetry, as well as a mix of appliances, including some that were in the existing space, a GE Profile refrigerator and a convection microwave in addition to the microwave drawer to give the resident gourmet flexibility during meal preparation.
The primary user of the kitchen is an active cook who prefers to work undisturbed. To accommodate this, Gargiulo created two work triangles: one for the cook to occupy and another for others to prepare light meals. The microwave drawer is the centerpiece of the second light prep area, positioned under the breakfast countertop and next to the eating area.
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