Kitchen Design Tips | Express Yourself

Four trendy ways to add pizzazz to the heart of your home.


Express Yourself

Regardless of their budget or style, home owners want a kitchen that's somehow unique. And with all the materials available, the kitchen has become a great place to show individuality and personality. Cabinets, countertops and flooring work together with color and decorative items to create great new looks. The latest in cabinets are glazed finishes, which offer a custom look and a change from the traditional wood finishes. "No longer can you sell just a flat finish. Because people want to distinguish themselves, it's got to be something special, usually painted or glazed," explains Frank Barnes, a custom remodeler and president of Redland Design in Montgomery, Alabama.

For the same reason, he is using more rustic alder, which clients like because of its unique-looking knots. Frank has also seen renewed interest in glass-front cabinets. "You can get glass that looks like lava or flowing water, and there's a new clear glass product with a matting behind it that gives it color." This trend isn't prominent only in the South. "Glass is in," agrees Jeff Gilman, owner of Gilman Fine Woodworking in Montana. "We're seeing a lot more glass and windows with less upper cabinets." Many people who like the glass look, but don't want to show what's in their cabinets, opt for glass that's etched or obscure or made with drips and air bubbles to add character. It's all about a look that says stability. "The trend is not to build a house that looks brand new and never lived in," says Jeff, "but one that looks 100 years old and is warm and comfortable, yet takes advantage of today's technology."

On the floors, ceramic tile and wood remain favorites—but with a twist. Mosaic designs add interest, and etched grids and swirl designs are showing up on floors and on walls, too. Ceramic or porcelain tile back splashes are just the thing for a one-of-a-kind look. Porcelain tiles are gaining favor because their color penetrates the tile, unlike ceramic tile, which is colored only on the surface. There has been a surge of metallic effects in sinks, tiles and even countertops. For kitchen work surfaces, granite remains the most popular choice where budget is not an issue, but granite squares set with narrow grout provide the look of granite at significantly lower cost. There's also plenty to choose from if you want a different look from laminates or from solid surfaces, such as Corian or Silestone. Among the more unique materials appearing in custom homes are concrete, zinc and copper.

"The countertop is the place to make a real statement in the kitchen," says Patricia. "People are opting for everything from red granites to white marble." And the very creative are going for a mix of countertop materials: one island of butcher block and another a solid surface. A recent client of Patricia's chose five different surfaces for his 500-square-foot kitchen, including stainless and laminates, and a baking area with a marble top. Carefully chosen smaller items make a huge statement, too. Range hoods can be really fabulous and a strong focal point, says Karan Anton, an interior designer from Idaho. Cabinet hardware and lighting create a mood and can turn an ordinary kitchen setting into a dramatic one.
Style is limitless with the materials and finishes available today. KraftMaid's oatmeal glaze cabinets (above left), set off by a tile backsplash, and Amerock's unique hardware (middle top), exude personality. Copper tiles by Walker Zanger (middle bottom) and a Revere Copper sink by Frigo Design (top right) add a warm touch of color. For a contemporary look, try glass-front cabinets and a Sharp stainless microwave (right). Better Kitchens
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