OFTEN REFERRED TO AS THE HEART OF A home, the kitchen has taken on even more significance since the pandemic began.
“Since COVID, I’ve talked with so many clients who are watching cooking channels on TV,” says Sherri DuPont, ASID, president and principal of Collins DuPont Design Group. “If you’re watching and want to try recipes, it’s not fun doing these things by yourself. You want to share them with family.”
To accommodate this trend, Ms. DuPont and her staff are creating chef’s tables and extended islands with seating in many kitchens they design.
Usually reserved for VIP guests, a chef’s table in the kitchen of the restaurant is the hottest seat in the house, where diners can watch the chefs and often enjoy a tasting menu.
“We love to transfer this concept to our clients’ homes,” Ms. DuPont says. “The chef’s table is a nod and refined update to the breakfast table or nook. Typically, this area is the less formal option to your dining room and is reserved for family or close friends to gather in the kitchen for brunch or cocktail hour.”
She likes to offer whimsical selections for tables and chairs for this area, including custom banquettes for growing families upholstered with performance based textiles for functionality.
She notes that, as an extension of the chef’s table, an ongoing trend is the use of larger kitchen islands for casual meals and buffet-style nibbling. She likes to use natural stones for the foundation of this area of the home, ensuring durability and timelessness.
For a larger kitchen island that will be used for the majority of the family’s meals, the Collins DuPont team often pair comfortable and interesting counter stools with sometimes unexpected features or textiles visible from the back, leaving no detail of the chef’s table unturned.
A kitchen that Ms. DuPont and designer Amy Coslet created for a home in Mediterra won Silver Aurora and Grand Aurora interior design awards from the Southeast Building Conference as well as three Sand Dollar Awards from the Collier Building Industry Association.
“The family has four daughters and needed space where everyone can cook and eat at one place in the kitchen,” Ms. DuPont says. “The family lives in the kitchen.”
The trend in chef’s tables has been happening for a while but intensified with people staying at home more during the pandemic, she adds. A kitchen table is traditionally used for breakfast and lunch, with dinner being served in a dining room. Having a chef’s table in the kitchen allows family members and guests to be part of the cooking experience and allows for more creative dishes, she explains.
The kitchen she designed in Mediterra has an extra sink and dishwashing area as well as convenient storage for condiments that are most often needed while cooking.
“It’s all very centrally located so you can grab what you need while you’re eating,” Ms. DuPont says. “It needs to be fun,” she adds about cooking and eating as a family. “The whole thing is you want to enjoy the family, the food and be playful with it.”
For extended islands, she often designs multiple sinks, professional pull-down faucets and space for three or four people to cook at a time. She considers this an “arena kitchen” where cooking is a show.
If space allows, she likes to create a butler’s pantry for appliances and serving dishes that aren’t needed every day but that should be close at hand.
With detailed work taking place in kitchens, Ms. DuPont likes to use pendant lights over islands augmented by task or recessed lighting.
While the trend toward white kitchens continues, Ms. DuPont says the island is where “everyone is being creative. It’s the spot where you can be more playful with color. White is the neutral background, but the island is the star that brings your personality into it.”
Color is used not only for the islands but also in fabrics on stools, chairs and other seating. One of Ms. DuPont’s favorites has a Caribbean feel with greens and reds.
She recommends wood floors for kitchens because “they are definitely more forgiving on your legs. If you’re going to be standing in the kitchen for three of four hours, they’re better for you.”
Jenny Provost, founder and owner of K2 Design Group, agrees. “The world has gone mad for wood floors,” especially in kitchens, she says.
“There’s this segment of the housing that was built in the mid-1990s that is screaming for renovation now. We’re ripping out a lot of limestone and travertine floors and building plywood under the wood flooring. It’s much better on your joints, and it feels really nice to walk on.”
Maintaining hardwood floors in Florida used to be time-consuming and expensive, Ms. Provost says, mainly because humidity often caused cupping. Today’s engineered wood floors are much better suited for the climate. As opposed to solid wood flooring, engineered wood flooring is made from a relatively thin layer of hardwood bonded over a substrate of high-quality plywood. Installation is easier, stability is better, and pricing is more reasonable.
Ms. Provost says Legno Bastone engineered wood finishes are “unbelievable” and notes that one is hand-torched to caramelize the color.
Like Collins DuPont Design Group, the K2 Design Group team is seeing a lot of focus on kitchens this year, especially upgrading appliances. Ms. Provost says her new personal favorite is the Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer, a multi-temperature appliance that can be set for fridge, freezer, chill, pantry and wine.
She has also seen increased popularity of steam ovens and mentions the Miele Combi-Steam oven as a great second or third oven that can be easily built into a kitchen.
Continuing with that brand, she likes the Miele coffee makers, especially when paired with a home coffee bean roaster. “If you’ve never had a latte macchiato from a Miele machine, you haven’t lived,” she said. “It’s extraordinary.”
An overall kitchen trend that Ms. Provost recommends is having a fully integrated look so all appliances blend in. She designs panels to cover the front of appliances, making the entire kitchen look like drawers or cabinets. She likes textured low-pressure laminate, available in many colors, calling it “a big innovation in cabinetry.”
With all these ideas for enhancing a kitchen, there’s no better time to stay home and get cooking. ¦
From Florida Weekly