Kitchen of the Year

TODAY’S KITCHEN IS MORE THAN JUST A PLACE TO COOK DINNER. IT’S THE HEART OF THE HOME.

The kitchen has evolved through the years from being a small room reserved for cooking to becoming the home’s major activity center. Whether it’s homework and hot dogs on a busy weeknight or gourmet meals for casual entertaining on the weekends, the kitchen is where families gather. ’Today’s kitchen is the home’s nucleus,” says Bob Johns, regional sales representative of Wood-Mode Cabinetry and owner of The Kitchen Source in Dallas. “People realize the value of being at home with their family, so they are putting more focus on where they spend time together. Because of this, there is a lot more that goes into planning a functional kitchen.”

Dallas is full of luxurious homes that cater to a homeowner’s every need. The kitchens in these premier residences are no exception. Judges from the industry have .selected three innovative kitchens in Dallas to showcase for its “Kitchen of the Year” contest. Each of these award-winning kitchens were carefully crafted to accommodate today’s busy families. They all show unique design and contain rich, detailed appointments that reflect an abundance of elegance, personality and charm. Our judges included representatives from Kitchen Source. Marazzi Tile, George Lewis Custom Homes and The Patricia Group.

One of the award-winning kitchens in Highland Park, designed by Dallas kitchen and interior designer Sharon L. Flatley, generates a warm, English country look with its eyecatching knotty pine cabinetry. A chef’s delight, the kitchen’s luxuries include two dishwashers, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, two undercounter freezer drawers, two warming drawers, a commercial range with hood, and a small undercounter refrigerator. Special accents are a corner wine rack and a telephone message center built to appear as a wall painting.

Flatley also designed another “Kitchen of the Year.” located in a high-rise condominium in Uptown. To brighten up the small room with no windows, Flatley used light wood cabinetry with decorative glass-front doors and placed arch lighting in the tall pantry cabinets. To complete the contemporary and clean look, stainless steel appliances were installed, along with granite countertops and cross-travertine flooring.

Redstone Kitchens designed the third “Kitchen of the Year” in LakeSide on Preston. The interior designer, La Ree Caramiella of Park Avenue Interiors, achieved a Tuscan kitchen look with a neutral pallete highlighted by oregano-stained cabinetry with a vanilla glaze. Sapphire granite countertops with a tumble marble backsplash, limestone flooring, hand-painted and sanded fruit wall murals, and skip-troweled and faux finished walls helped complete the warm, aged Italian look. Open shelving, beaded board cabinetry accents, a brick-front butler’s pantry with built-in wine rack, and a European light bridge over the top of the cabinetry all add a creative touch.

One thing that sets today’s kitchens apart from those of the past is the way they gently flow into a home’s casual living area or family room, creating a great room. Instead of doors, a simple serving bar is usually all that divides a kitchen and living area. “The last thing Mom or Dad wants to do is come home and cook a meal while everbody else is in the family room having a good time,” says Johns. “Meal preparation is becoming more of a family event, and it gives families the opportunity to talk about their day while they are getting things done.”

There isn’t just one look to pinpoint when it comes to hot trends in Dallas’ kitchens; however, there are a few must-haves on homeowners’ wish lists, such as ceramic tile or hardwood flooring, finished and clean-lined cabinetry, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances. “People want to customize their kitchen to fit their lifestyle and reflect their own personality.” says Don McKinney, a designer at The Kitchen Source in Arlington. “Dallas has done its homework when researching what makes a great kitchen.”

From floor to ceiling, kitchens are becoming the home’s most interesting room, with bold designs, top-of-the-line appliance packages, and special features that make living easier. Here is a peek into what D Magazine found in the area’s “Kitchens of the Year.”



APPLIANCES

A commercial kitchen full of stainless steel appliances is the latest rage. “People are moving away from the all-white kitchen that was so popular just a few years ago,” says Dick Anish, president of Kitchen Distributors of America in Dallas. “They want more institutional-looking products.”

Sub-Zero is the brand name to remember when it comes to refrigerators. These large, hand-built appliances boast dual compressors, which extend their life and enhance their performance. Sub-Zero refrigerators are built into the wail unit and can easily blend in with surrounding wood cabinetry; designers can achieve this look by installing wood paneling in front of the appliance for a clean, polished look. Some kitchen islands include Sub-Zero undercounter freezer or refrigerator drawers, which is the perfect spot to store foods to he rinsed or chopped on the work island.

Thermador and Wolf are popular brands for ranges, and Dacor is an often-selected brand for cooktops and ovens. Homeowners want a professional, stainless steel look here, too. Oversized ranges with wall ovens remain a top choice, as well as gas ranges with electric ovens. Large warming drawers-a handy tool when cooking for big groups-are also a typical request. For the cook who wants it all, convection wall ovens are the way to go. A fan inside circulates heat evenly, eliminating hoi spots and keeping the oven the same temperature.

’They say everything is big in Dallas, and it’s the same way with appliances. Big ranges and big range hoods are very in right now,” says Ron Pierce, a salesman with Ed Kellum & Son in Dallas. ’’With all of these stainless steel appliances in your home, you’ll think you just walked into the kitchen at The Mansion.”



Cabinetry

Designers say it is a kitchen’s cabinetry that gives it warmth and personality. Rich, dark woods, such as mahogany and cherry, are surpassing traditional pine and oak cabinetry in popularity. Many homeowners request that these dark finishes and stains he mixed and topped with a chocolate, white, or porcelain glaze.

“People are finally waking up to the fact that they need better quality when it comes to cabinetry,” says Rex DeWald, co-owner of Redstone Kitchens in Dallas. “The emphasis is really on finish and design. The word everyone uses to describe what they want is “clean.” Simple lines are in.”

To give a kitchen individual style, many homeowners are opting for the ’furniture look’ by taking actual pieces of free-standing furniture, such as antique hutches, and mixing them in with the surrounding built-in cabinetry. The latest extras in cabinetry include built-in lazy Susans, pull-out trays, and recycling bins.



SINKS AND FAUCETS

Faucets have become more than just a place to get tap water. They are now multi-functional tools. A favorite among homeowners are all-in-one pull-out faucets-hand sprays that pull out from the faucet, allowing the user to easily clean the sink, spray vegetables, or fill up a mop bucket. “It’s like a kitchen’s magic wand,” says Jerry Norton of Designer Hardware in Oklahoma City.

Gooseneck sinks, which feature long faucets that gently curve downward, is a favorite Kohler style, especially if they boast a brushed nickel finish. A high-end faucet style that is gaining popularity is the new Starck Kitchen Faucet from Hansgrohe, created by renowned designer Philippe Starck. Taking the shape of an old-fashioned hand pump, the solid-brass faucet is bold in form and practical in function.

Top choices in sinks are 10-inch double-bowl stainless steel sinks and the Kallista Fireclay undercounter bowl sink. To create a clean, simple look in a kitchen, sinks now come in colors and textures that match countertop material, giving the illusion of being incorporated into the countertop.

For convenience-as well as for show- today’s sinks and faucets come with plenty of gadgets, such as a built-in soap dispenser and a separate hot water spout.



Flooring and countertops

Gleaming hardwood flooring is always a favorite in the kitchen because of the incredible warmth it adds to a room. But, ceramic tile and natural stone flooring- especially limestone-are fast becoming preferences, not only because of their attractiveness but also because of their low maintenance and extreme durability.

Kitchens are becoming larger allowing more room for unique floor designs. Combining different sizes and styles of tile create interesting, eye-catching patterns. Larger tile sizes-some up to 13″ by 20-inches- are often selected for a dramatic effect.

“People are going for a more ergonomie look throughout their home,” says Katherine Bartlett, office manager for American Marazzi Tile in Dallas. “They want a natural look, so of course, stone and ceramic tile flooring fits in with that.”

Tile countertops are a hot item in today’s kitchens not only because they look good and complement ceramic tile or stone flooring but also because of the tile’s durability. True marbles and granites and tile inserts with hand-painted decos are current favorites for kitchen countertops and tile backsplashes.

WINDOWS

In yesterday’s kitchen, windows were not typically part of its overall look and design. There might be a front window near the kitchen table or a small one above the sink. Today, kitchen windows are a focal point of the room and are strategically placed to bring in an abundance of natural light-a necessity for today’s natural kitchen styles.

“With taller ceilings in today’s homes, we are seeing a lot more opportunity to include windows,” says Randy Nagel, director of marketing and product development for Lone Star Plywood and Door/BMC West. “With kitchens becoming the prime gathering spot of the house, people want to put in attractive windows to give everyone something attractive to look at. The kitchen is the one room of the house where people really want to do something different with their windows.”

Because the size of kitchens grows every year to accommodate larger groups, more natural light is needed to brighten up the room and give it an inviting feel. To create a warm environment, homeowners are opting for rich, exotic wood windows that complement their kitchen cabinetry. Weather Shield Windows offers maple, cherry, and mahogany woods to achieve this coordinated look.

When windows are a must but there isn’t a pretty view outside, divided light windows can be used to make the window the view. Bold ideas in kitchen windows include using round and comer glass windows or installing windows at an angle to go along with a room’s unique architecture.

No matter which brands and styles of appliances, flooring, and cabinetry are selected for a kitchen, designers say the key goal to any trendy, inviting kitchen is to create warmth and personality. The kitchen’s new function-the home’s central work station- is here to stay. “The way kitchens have changed, it’s incredible,” Johns says. “It is amazing how much time is spent there today.”

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