Can you imagine a kitchen without counter tops? It wasn’t that long ago that the kitchen table was used as the main prep space- with minimal counter clean up space reserved for the sink. Once the marvelous concept of preparation and clean-up space was introduced, there wasn’t much call for improvement. The kitchen counter has evolved based on a few very important reasons: 1. Times change and so have the materials available – (stainless, laminate, solid surface, natural stone and glass, concrete and wood) so we can change the look as well as mix things up. 2. Times change and so have our lifestyles- Mom is not cooking alone in the kitchen anymore – the duties have been split and the children are more involved. Because of our busy lives it is one of the activities families do together now so the layouts of the counter tops have changed (islands, peninsulas, L and U-shaped kitchens as well as the most current use of multiple triangles of task-connecting stations for prep, clean-up and cooking… and the all-important homework while being in the same room with each other) 3. Times change and the kitchen is not just the nucleus of the home, it is the center of our life at home. This creates a need to blend the best practices of what the kitchen needs to do while making the kitchen a beautiful part of our family area… “wait, I think this is how the pioneers did it” In the following examples are a couple of counters that have more than one purpose:The chopping block above faces the family room and dinette and provides relief by not being on the same plane as the main counter. The warm color of the wood offers a casual change of definition, and the lower height is actually more conducive to cutting and chopping. The butcher block also means no more bringing out a cutting board at prep time. The length of the counter above allows two accomplished foodies to work side by side. There’s more! The extended casual dining is scalable and was designed to help manage the client’s invited guests and create more “gathering space” to keep the work zone free of unwanted participation. The extension is also scalable in that it can be used to bring little cooks in on some cookie making, be used for casual dining, or allow homework or other projects to be done while a meal is being prepared. One more benefit of this design is that the extended dinette is an architectural bridge helping transition the adjacent family room into the kitchen. The moral of the story? When you are designing your next kitchen, imagine all the things you want to accomplish in the space and use that as a creative start to your counter space.
During many design projects, one of the best opportunities to make a high impact on the design with the best return is often by moving or adding windows. The typical aversion includes cost, but is usually associated with a paradigm about the way things are or the impact that they will have. Of course, installing windows where they do not exist has associated costs other than just the window. In our market, a 36 inch wide by 54 inch high window typically costs between $500 and $1,000, depending on the quality and energy efficiency. There is carpentry to frame it, plaster to repair, as well as painting inside, and usually some painting outside with some patching of the siding. So if the cost to add a window would be an additional $1,500-$2,000 and you are doing a significant renovation, the new window(s) may actually be the star of the show.