A kitchen remodel is one of the better investments a homeowner can make – and minor remodels are even more cost-effective. Here, Cabinet Encounters kitchen designers and remodeling experts share the key trends and amenities to consider.

Think efficient. With all this talk about the kitchen becoming more things to everyone – whether a social center or homework station – it’s becoming more important than ever to make the space work as efficiently as possible. Cabinets account for half of the product cost of what you will spend in your kitchen, so add space-savers such as a pull-out trash can, spice drawers, tray dividers and roll-out shelves. Future home buyers are going to appreciate that you put detail into the cabinet design.

Appliances. Ever consider the microwave as a sex symbol? Well, kinda….or at least, the “son of microwave, the speed oven”. These new fangled machines, which cost $2,000 to $4,000, can cook entire turkeys in perhaps two hours instead of six. Another device, the Tmio Oven (about $3,500), functions like a combo chiller/regular oven. You can call it from your mobile phone, and it will switch from refrigerating what’s inside to cooking it. Appliances that can do multiple things for you are really taking off. Also, as more and more baby boomers are interested in both cooking and their health, there is more interest now in built-in cook top steamers (about $2,000), which can steam vegetables and the like.

Green isn’t fading. People are really looking for ways to incorporate ‘going green’ into their daily life – and believe it or not you can make that part of a kitchen remodel, even though remodeling is such a huge expense. There are lots of ways to roll green into your remodel:

Cooking: Most people are now opting for magnetic induction cook-tops. This cook-top uses an electromagnetic field to cook food. It ’s 90% efficient at turning energy into heat. It doesn’t heat up your home as much and cause your air conditioning to run.
  • Cork floors: A recyclable material that’s soft on the feet.
  • Glass: Tiles, like those made by Oceanside Glasstile – some of which is made from recycled glass – for areas such as kitchen backsplashes.
  • Hard surfaces: There are several fine alternatives to granite and other mined products. Richlite is a resin paper product, basically pressed sawdust bonded with resins. Another company uses bamboo fiber and sawdust to create something called PaperStone.

Think ‘Contemporary’. As little as 5 years ago a French Country Kitchen would be filled with all kinds of moldings and appliqués. Today, homeowners generally want kitchens with a sleeker look. What to do if you have an old-school kitchen that matches an old-school home? That can be cleaned up by removing some of the extra decoration and moldings.

Give it gas. Clients in all price ranges are interested in cooking and want high-quality stoves – and the natural gas lines that serve them. Such gas stoves can range from $2,000 to “the sky’s the limit”, compared with an average slide-in range that might cost $600 or $700. The flexibility of higher BTU’s so you can sear and stir-fry, and the ability to turn down the heat and cook quite delicately, are the appeal of using gas.

Large islands. Kitchens today are all about socializing. That’s why islands have grown in popularity. Apparently, the bigger the better. A 10’ long and 6’ wide island can allow enough space for a child to do homework while a parent prepares a meal or for dinner guests to sit and interact with you during a party.

TRENDY BATHROOMS:

Proper lighting. Take care with lighting during your remodel. If light doesn’t come from in front of the face, it throws more shadows on the face, which isn’t ideal for shaving or applying makeup, or for a person’s self-image. A preferred solution is linear types of lighting flush with the walls, or linear lights right next to the mirror. Choose a fixture at face level, with a shade to diffuse the light.

Warmer tiles, vessel sinks, dual vanities. Warm colored stone tile is increasingly in favor among homeowners, though some designers say a handsome, bright marble or nice tile is hardly out of fashion for a bathroom today either. For more aesthetic flair, go with the vessel sink, of which, today the choices are endless. His and her vanities, even in smaller bathrooms, are still the preferred choice of most homeowners, as well as the swing glass shower door instead of the sliding.

Moving walls and better storage. One way to bring more open space to a bathroom is to remove the wall between the bathroom and the closet, which are usually located next to each other. Instead of two smaller rooms, now you have one large area, and with the right planning, more closet space.

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