In the past, kitchens weren’t prominent rooms in our homes. Instead, they were often hidden away and simply considered places to prepare food. Until the late 60s, home design favored separating the kitchen from the main living area with at least a door but often a full hallway. Even more extreme were the layouts of English manors, such as those seen on Downton Abbey, where the kitchen was located on a completely different level than the main living areas. Homeowners wanted guests to see an orderly and beautiful home rather than the mess that was required to prepare the meals. Today, this concept is about as popular as wearing a bustle and as practical as employing a valet.
Modern home designs have changed to incorporate more of the great room feel, where kitchens are incorporated as a main feature of entertaining and daily living. While designs have changed, the desire to show off a beautiful, well kempt home has not. It is this desire — along with technological advances and aesthetic design trends vastly favoring more minimalistic, modern designs — that have fueled a huge push towards finding new, innovate ways to conceal unappealing eyesores in the kitchen. Modern lifestyles and kitchen design trends have changed the way we think about many elements of our kitchens, causing us to reconsider the way we incorporate everything from lighting to electrical outlets. Customizing your kitchen and cabinets to match your lifestyle is one of the most exciting and important parts of the design process. Here are some examples of how you can create a beautiful, seamless kitchen that not only maintains aesthetics but also adds convenience and functionality. For more information on any of these ideas, or to take full advantage of the cutting-edge knowledge and expertise of our professional design team, please contact us today. Any of the helpful design experts at Parr’s Cabinet Design Center can help you choose the perfect options for your specific kitchen design.
In the past, the location of kitchen counter outlets was an easy decision: they were nearly always placed on the backsplash. This construction was ideal from a functional standpoint. But today, the use of more ornate, attractive backsplashes (along with design trends favoring minimalistic modern kitchens) has resulted in plugs being placed elsewhere.
Similar to modern lighting options, one very common option is to have a low profile power bar running along the underside of cabinets. This keeps outlets out of sight yet close for appliances and other kitchen gadgets. Moving outlets from the wall to the underside of cabinets will create a seamless look for countertops and backsplashes while maintaining the functionality and ease of traditional design.
For kitchen areas without upper cabinets, other innovative options exist keep outlets out of sight. One common method is to use faux drawers that open to reveal outlets and switches. These can be very useful for places that don’t usually house an appliance but are valuable workspaces, such as kitchen islands.
Another option for concealing outlets is to hide them in countertops. Pop-up electrical outlets do exactly what their name suggests: they pop out of counters when needed and then retract back down, laying flush with the rest of the counter when not in use. They come in many styles—from stainless steel hatches to cylindrical rods—that can be matched to countertops and more. Pop-up outlets are an excellent way to hide electrical connections.
Adding lighting to cabinets can add functionality and aesthetic appeal to a kitchen design. Not long ago, under-cabinet lighting meant using harsh fluorescent lights, bulky canister lights, or hot-burning halogen bulbs. With advances in lighting technology, particularly LEDs, functional and pleasant lighting is easier to conceal under and around cabinets. One popular option is a lighting strip running under the cabinet. This works well for traditional cabinet styles that have a natural lip. Depending on preference, lights can shine straight down onto the countertop for meal preparation or angle back to highlight the backsplash. Most come with a dimmable option for full customization and make great nightlights.
For cabinets without easy or natural spaces to conceal lighting, which is common with modern designs, there are still concealed lighting options. Flush mount, recessed lights can be added to most cabinets. LED tapes, which can be adhered to most surfaces and are often waterproof, have profiles of just 1/8″ high and 1/2″ wide. Cabinets can be manufactured with built-in channels for these strips, or they can be retrofitted into many existing cabinets.
Most cabinet lighting options will be hardwired, or plugged into an outlet, but the advent of the LED as a popular and low-energy lighting choice has also made it extremely viable to have standalone, battery-powered lighting in a kitchen. These are particularly useful in areas where supplying power would be difficult or dangerous.
A popular idea in contemporary kitchen design is creating spaces within cabinets specifically for ubiquitous items. Trash and recycling bins, once typically found under the sink, are now placed in more convenient locations with full-extension slide-out bases for easy access. Appliance garages have gained popularity to house everything from toasters to Keurigs. Many people are taking advantage of the height of their ceilings and installing tall, pullout pantries. Even appliances are being masked behind faux cabinet doors to maintain aesthetic flow. A little forethought about the things used most in a kitchen can go a long way in creating a functional, beautiful kitchen.
Under-cabinet tablet mounts are another innovative, easy kitchen addition. These retractable arms are generally mounted under cabinets. They swing down and attach to a tablet or phone so users can keep counter space free while watching a cooking video, looking up a recipe, or listening to music.
The kitchen designers at Parr’s Cabinet Design Center are happy to listen to your specific project ideas. Contact us today so we can help you determine which creative and innovative features will be the perfect additions to your new kitchen.