The Final Frontier

The Final Frontier

Satellite kitchens are not only enhancing convenience in the home, they are also offering a new design frontier.

By John Filippelli

In fact, designers interviewed by Kitchen & Bath Design News note that "satellite" kitchens, such as outdoor kitchens, morning kitchens and wet bars, are not only breaking down pre-conceived barriers, but are becoming the final frontier of design.

Janel Davenport, owner of Evergreen CO-based Janel Davenport Kitchen & Bath Design explains: "We're seeing more of the satellite kitchens incorporated into other areas in custom homes. Usually, they will carry on the theme or appearance of the area that they are in."

"If a bar is in a rustic, casual mountain home, you can carry that rustic look. Maybe the granite countertops will feature beveled edges, or the backsplash might be rustic copper [with] a rustic copper sink," she says.

Mary Galloway, CKD of Custom Crafters, Inc., based in Kensington, MD adds: "It certainly is about coordinating with the home furnishings. Materials have to blend and coordinate."

Davenport adds: "Clients want the space tailored to their individual needs whether it be a coffee bar with an espresso maker or a wine captain. It's as individual as the clients themselves."

For Mary Jo Camp, CKD, CBD, CID and vice president of marketing for Rohnert Park, CA-based McPhails Appliance, convenience is just as big a consideration.

"It's about the convenience they want equipment where they use it. For instance, they may want to have the wine storage in the family room where they will be serving guests."

Adds Dick Difazzio, CKD, of Houston, TX-based Cabinets & Designs: "Clients are now working in the master suite [which frequently serves as an office]. They can have a bar there or have coffee in the morning. Some even have microwaves."

He continues: "[The bottom line is that] if it's a big house, the clients want convenience so they don't have to travel all the way down from the master bedroom to accommodate [their needs]."

So what types of spaces are clients requesting? Apparently, the sky is the limit.

"We've done entertainment centers where we have incorporated kitchens," says Galloway.

Adds Davenport: "I once created a more spacious master suite for a client and incorporated a coffee beverage center.

"That helped the client when he was getting ready in the morning. because [without leaving the space] he could still track the stock market since it had Internet connection as well."

"I've done a master bath that had a breakfast area in the master bath with an undercounter refrigerator and bar sink separated from the lavatory sink," says Difazzio.

Galloway adds: "One of the more unique projects I have done was an indoor grill. It was all brick and had a brick insert floor grill. It had a flue, so we inserted a grill into that piece. It's off the kitchen, but still in an area that can handle overflow for party guests."

"We've also done pool areas that only have one back wall and a small kitchen and barbeque area," adds Difazzio.

For Camp, the kitchen extensions that are occurring are merely the embodiment of the evolving client wish list.
"People are interested in maintaining a certain lifestyle. They want things at their fingertips and they want to live 'the good life," she notes. "[Therefore], the kitchen which grew into the family room is now growing into the backyard."

Out and about
Camp believes that outdoor kitchens should be a direct reflection of the home's style.

"The outdoor kitchens should reflect the materials of the architecture and relate to the interior. If the building is brick or stucco, that material will be incorporated into the outdoor space and then something will be balanced on the inside. The outside and interior kitchens are, in most cases, being used together. That flow is important," she says.

Difazzio adds: "Everything we seem to be doing is a granite countertop for outside applications. We're also using some stainless steel, but mostly granite."

Megan Landry, owner of Santa Barbara, CA-based Jack's Kitchens agrees: "People are interested in natural-looking products. A lot of granite is done in our area which lends itself to both indoor or outdoor applications."

Difazzio even cites a project where a client asked to emulate the exact size of the interior kitchen -outside.

"That kitchen had extremely expensive equipment and it was outfitted in the size of an indoor kitchen. It was an amazing thing and built in a pavilion away from the house," he describes.

But, there are caveats, the designers point out.

"In this climate everything has to work with the humidity. The biggest problem is that the hinges rust. We don't have a solution for that yet," Difazzio offers.

"Even if cabinetry is in a well-protected space, it's exposed to temperature differences. You want to make sure they will withstand those temperature and moisture differences," says Landry.

She does offer some advice, saying, "There are several companies that make stainless steel cabinets to accommodate climate and which blend in nicely with stainless steel barbeques."

"[Clients also have] environmental concerns. People are interested in products that don't have formaldehyde in them," Landry points out.

Adds Camp: "You also need GFCI electrical, just as in high-end interior kitchens. Also, in California, it gets cold near Tahoe and it's necessary to disconnect the plumbing when it freezes."

Galloway also knows that geography plays a big role in whether an outdoor kitchen is prudent.
"I love outdoor kitchens, but with our climate [in Maryland], you would probably need outdoor heaters," she jokes.

All wet
Mark Palmer, president of Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL-based Atlantic Coast Kitchens, notes that wet bars are quickly becoming popular.

"We're seeing more mini-juice bars or kitchenettes off the master bedroom and master bathroom suite. There's usually a straight run of cabinetry with a countertop on it and sometimes a sink. Usually, it features a refrigeration unit for juice, bottled water or a snack."

"The juice bar concept is something that is great. From a health point of view, it's great to be hydrated in the morning especially with the incorporation of steam showers and if you have a ready water source, such as a lav faucet, you don't have to do an extra plumbing job," says Galloway.

For Palmer, styles requested for wet bars vary just as much as in full-size kitchens.

"We have a lot of call for wet bars with a traditional look, but the contemporary look is starting to catch on. We do a lot of dark cherry to create very stately looking units. We also do hard surface or stone countertops along with glass doors, dry wine racks and refrigerated wine racks," he says.

"I've done a little kitchen in the bedroom for someone that had a full 27" Sub-Zero refrigerator. For most auxiliary breakfast areas, we're choosing Sub-Zero drawers for refrigeration. We've also done small microwaves and built-in coffee machines," adds Difazzio.

"I've seen wine coolers used as storage for juice," offers Galloway. "Also popular are built-in coffee makers. It makes it very easy when you have an icemaker in it. That'll be very hot especially in master suites."

Davenport adds: "We've even done some small individual one or two-burner cook units that are set into the countertop. In a bar area, there could be a microwave and undercounter refrigerator or even a wine captain and water source."
Palmer continues: "I have a house right now where we took a bedroom closet and turned it into a wet bar. We took the doors off, wrapped the doors and turned what would have been a walk-in closet into a bar."

He concludes: "The wet bar area is just another space where clients can have a fully functional area so they don't have to run to the kitchen to get the ice or a cold drink."

Eye for size
Without fail, the greatest obstacle a designer faces when creating a satellite kitchen is space  or the lack of it says Difazzio.

"Most are tiny maybe four to five feet. You have to figure out ways to get a sink and refrigeration into the space," he says.

"It takes some thought to see how you can get more storage out of an auxiliary space," adds Galloway."

She continues: "You have to think about who your audience is and make it safe and easy to clean up. If you're going to put a sink in, choose an undermount so it's easy to wipe down."

Adds Palmer, "Sometimes you have to get creative. You have to make sure of angle areas, placement, and door swings so that the refrigerator door opens."

But Difazzio sees the space challenges with wet bars as rather cut and dry.

"It doesn't take design skill, it takes a shoehorn," he quips.

Infinity and beyond
According to Camp, satellite kitchens simply make sense.

"People are more affluent and are willing to put money into their home. Designers are also being more creative. I think people are expanding their design horizons and being adventuresome. For instance, I see more color, concrete and odd materials, such as galvenized metal," she says.

"The master bath will be very media centered a place that will incorporate a television and a coffee beverage center or a wine beverage center," predicts Davenport.

Camp also believes nothing is out of the realm of possibility.

"It started with beverage centers in the recreation room and has moved into bedrooms. What other room is left? There's no boundaries anywhere," she concludes. KBDN