Posted in Consumer Research, Kitchen Sociology, Kitchen Trends, Men in the Kitchen, Style Notes

He Said, She Said

In an article, He Said, She Said, published at KBBonline.com, July 21, 2010, it appears stereotypes about what women and men want in kitchen design is not that different, at least not in the upscale market.

Click the Link below to read what the results of  Top 5 Items Desired in an Ideal Kitchen and the Top 5 Words Associated with an Ideal Kitchen. Where men and women differ in opinion, according to the survey,  focused on cabinet organization and performance. Women it appears in the survey are focused on cabinet storage solutions; while men focused on performance of appliances. While I can certainly sympathize with one dear male reader who would beg to differ with this part of the study, who shouted out one Sunday morning from his kitchen in Minnesota,  “a pan! a pan! I would give anything to find a pan!” His attempt to make a Sunday breakfast became a blog topic and he wrote about the trouble with kitchen cabinet organization. I would say that both men and women would both agree roll out trays and pot and pan drawers are highly desirable interior cabinet features to include in a kitchen remodel.

What can we learn about this study? In our changing economy, the study reveals that at least in the upscale market, one of the motivating factors for these homeowners, who know they couldn’t sell right now if they had to, have made their minds up to stay put.  This is a market to sell to homeowners who are digging in and improving their homes instead of moving.

Article Source:

http://www.kbbonline.com/kbb/news-and-features/He-Said-She-Said-796.shtml

http://www.kitchenintelligence.org/

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Posted in Accessable Design, Aging In Place, Cabinets, Cook Tops and Ranges, Cookware, Kitchen Organization, Kitchen Sociology, Small Space Design

Residential Kitchens can be Functional

There was a commentary from an author at another blog, Dog Walk Blog, citing that home kitchens are not functional; looking more like living rooms with furniture than places to prepare food. I am not certain if the author, Charlie, is (a) just being cheeky, (b) disagreeable in general, (c) was not part of the process when his kitchen was built, or (d) just irritated that it was his turn to cook breakfast. I’ll assume (d). While I am in agreement with his opinion of HGTV’s over saturation of also ran “me too” shows showing kitchen after kitchen topped with granite counters, I beg to disagree with his commentary that residential kitchens of today are not functional.  In fact, a properly designed kitchen, large or small, can be a super efficient hub of the home that would make even the most reticent morning person jump for joy at the prospect of making breakfast. It is all in the planning. In any event, I will respond to his critique on the functionality of residential kitchen design here in my blog.

There are volumes of books that discuss the history of the kitchen and it’s relevance to domestic life, so I will not digress into that here. To the left and below are historical pictures from the great food blog, Gherkins & Tomatoes, a wonderful blog that covers topics on Cooks & Cooking throughout history. Suffice it to say that in America, kitchens have come full circle from the primitive all purpose “great room” where all family activities took place; and as Americans gained wealth, kitchens were relegated to the back of the house, closed off from the parlor where the family gathered, lived and entertained; up to today’s standards where the kitchen has returned to it’s roots as a “great room” where the family gathers, lives and entertains within the kitchen space and where cabinetry blends into the architecture of the home.

Kitchens have evolved as the new living room, but this does not make them any less functional because of the decorative cabinetry.  Looking back at the history of the kitchen, it’s easy to see where the trend of kitchens looking more like living rooms started. Creating more comfortable spaces, innovating with useful tools to make kitchen chores easier is the one constant theme throughout our kitchen history.

 
Soho Loft designed by Paul Gleicher 

So let’s examine the points in Charlies argument on why he believes today’s kitchens are focused more on the “pretty” and not focused on the “functional”:

Stainless Steel Counter tops Versus Granite Counter Tops: 

By all accounts stainless steel is a popular material in both residential and commercial kitchens. Hygienic and durable, no one can refute that stainless steel is the practical material of choice for sinks, appliances, ventilation, back splashes and counter surfaces. Gleaming bright and ultra modern, stainless steel counters can be a bold choice but also can be cold and noisy if used as the sole counter surface. I think most people would agree that counter surfaces are personal choices, an area to infuse their own personality into their kitchen. Restaurant kitchens with stainless steel surfaces are noisy because the sound bounces off of all the hard surfaces. Photo on the left French Laundry by Dave Anderson. If you look at counters in this restaurant kitchen on the left and in the video included further down, we can see that even the highly acclaimed French Laundry restaurant in Northern California has a work around solution for stainless counters, covering up most all the stainless steel prep surfaces with gleaming white plastic cutting boards at the line and white butcher paper at the plating area. The use of the plastic cutting boards are practical and butcher paper prevents plates from shifting while plating on the pass and cuts down the noise of plates on the stainless. I would also guess that the butcher paper also prevents the plates from cooling slightly less than if the plates were placed directly on the stainless surface. Would most homeowners be willing to do the same in a residential setting? I think not.

Cabinets:

Open shelves that predominate in a commercial kitchen can be a drawback in a residential kitchen. While commercial kitchens are typically equipped with heavy duty stainless steel work surfaces with open shelves below and open shelves above, commercial kitchens also employ a staff to keep these surfaces gleaming bright by scrubbing them down daily from top to bottom.  While a few open shelves at home require a moderate amount of maintenance to keep the dust and grease at bay, in today’s busy lifestyle, who has the time to maintain all open shelves in a kitchen? Especially near the cooking area. If you have ever run your hand across your vent hood that you missed wiping down in the last week or more, I dare you to test it out and run your hand across the hood, feel the greasy dust on your hand and imagine a layer of that same grease on all your pots, dinner ware and glasses stored on open shelves.

Frankly, having open access to all shelves, upper and lower exposed, can look unsightly and cluttered in a residential kitchen. No one is that organized at home unless you are Martha-what’s-her-name. Commercial kitchens maintain a lot of uniformity on the shelves, all white plates, all the same type of cookware, all the same type of utensils. Not so in our kitchens. We “inherit” cookware, have multiple types of dinnerware, mugs, glassware,  plastic ware, way too many slogan mugs from business partners and travel mugs and most of us want it covered up from view. Planning and plating by pulling your plate, prep bowls and serve ware out of a cabinet before you make the omelet is key in not getting aggravated in your kitchen. Installing roll out trays in base cabinets, editing out what you don’t need in cabinets or do not use anymore will increase the function of your kitchen.

Interior cabinet lighting: Never search for that missing lid or favorite spice again with interior cabinet lighting.  Each time you open a door or cabinet drawer, light automatically illuminates the space so you can quickly find what you need. Picture on the left shows lighting switch from Richelieu. 


Electric Stoves:  Oh yes you can regulate heat with induction cooking, powered by electricity of course. Get ready for those perfect pancakes Charlie.

There will always be those who favor gas cooking, but induction cooking, which has been around for several years, should not be overlooked.   The following information and more can be researched at The Induction Site, the following is an excerpt. 

Here’s why:
1. Instant adjustment. You can adjust the cooking heat instantly and with great precision.  This is what sets it apart from the typical electric coil which slowly starts to increase or decrease when adjusted.
2. No wasted heat.
With induction cooking, energy is supplied directly to the cooking vessel by the magnetic field; thus, almost all of the source energy gets transferred to that vessel. With gas or conventional electric cookers (including halogen), the energy is first converted to heat and only then directed to the cooking vessel–with a lot of that heat going to waste heating up your kitchen (and you) instead of heating up your food. (The striking image at the left shows how precisely focused heat generation is with induction–ice remains unmelted on an induction element that is boiling water!) As a comparison, 40%–less than half–of the energy in gas gets used to cook, whereas with induction 84% percent of the energy in the electricity used gets used to cook (and the rest is not waste heat as it is with gas). There are two important heat-related consequences of that fact:

3. Cooler kitchens:
Of course the cooking vessel and the food itself will radiate some of their heat into the cooking area–but compared to gas or other forms of electrically powered cooking, induction makes for a much cooler kitchen (recall the old saying: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”); and


4. A cool stove top:

That’s right! The stovetop itself barely gets warm except directly under the cooking vessel (and that only from such heat as the cooking vessel bottom transfers). No more burned fingers, no more baked-on spills, no more danger with children around. (The photo at the left–more can be referenced at the Induction Site–shows, like the one shown here, how only the cooking vessel does the actual cooking.)

Ovens that make you bend down: 

I can’t argue with this. Unless you have lots of help in the kitchen as show in this photo on the left, from another new favorite blog, (Taste with the Eyes),  placing an oven in a tall cabinet that makes it easy to reach and pull out hot food is ergonomically the best way to go. For others with very small kitchens, the sacrifice of eliminating a counter surface is not worth the trade off. For aging in place design, including a wall oven should be considered as a space planning priority. There are ovens with double doors that swing out but they tend to be on the pricey side. Again, another trade off that has to be weighed against the over all budget.

Pots & pans
Pots and pans should be accessible in roll out trays or drawers. I prefer drawers so that everything is within view with a single pull of the drawer. Hanging Pots and Pans above from a pot rack  means one of three things: (a) you can afford hired help to keep them all your pots and pans sparkling clean, (b) You ignore the dust and cob webs and only clean them before the holidays, (c) you don’t cook and your pots and pans are hung from a pot rack just for show. Enough said.

Utensils and Knife Storage: definitely agree with Charlie on this point. Utensil storage should be visible and within arms reach in your cooking and prep area. Maintaining cleanliness for utensils kept out in the open is an easier task than maintaining dinnerware and pots and pans on an open shelf.  One of my favorite lines is RÖSLE.   The Open Kitchen is a genuine RÖSLE concept, lifting beautifully designed professional kitchen utensils from invisibility in back drawers and setting them out for both show and utility. The expandable system incorporates adaptable modules offering infinite possibilities for modifying and enhancing the work ambient as convenient.

Sinks
Your point is well taken. In the best of all worlds, it would be a bonus if all residential kitchens were big enough like it’s commercial counterparts to house both a sink in the clean up zone for washing dishes and another sink to prep our food and wash our veggies. This is a matter of budget, remodeling logistics and size permitting.

I think there is no better time in kitchen design, where kitchens can be stylish and very functional. Any chef will tell you that the last thing they want to see after a long day in the kitchen is a utilitarian commercial kitchen at home. Everybody wants to warm it up and personalize it when it comes to their own kitchen.  

In summary I think the Rolling Stones summed it up best and you can use this logic in kitchen design too:

You can’t always get what you want
And if you try sometime you find
You get what you need,
Oh yeah, hey hey hey, oh…

References:
Dog Walk Blog
How to get a Table at the French Laundry
www.gherkinstomatoes.com
Taste With the Eyes Blog
Richelieu
RÖSLE 
The Induction Site
Rolling Stones Song Lyrics

Posted in Celebrity Kitchens, Hot Topics, Kitchen Sociology, Kitchen Trends, Men in the Kitchen

Do men like being in the kitchen?

Over at Hospitality Net, there is a question posed to the reader in an article called ‘The New Food Tourist – Gordon Ramsay Eat Your Heart Out! | By Dr Ian Yeoman, Futurologist:

Do men like being in the kitchen?

Sure they do. I am not a social forecaster but as a kitchen designer I can testify to the fact that more men are actively researching and going out to the appliance stores and doing the research on the internet just as much as women. Maybe even more so than women. I have noticed that men are less cost conscious of appliances than women are, in that men are more concerned with getting the best quality and features, and will pay more to get them. Women tend to be more focused on the interior features of the cabinets, focusing on ease of access and the colors in the kitchen and similarly will pay more for cabinets than men will. I do believe men are more focused on the mechanics of the gadgets in appliance design, less so on color of cabinets. Also I do think that it is more than a single focus for men, it does involve self-fulfillment in showing off creative cooking skills and entertaining.

The article states: As pollster Mark Penn observes ‘micro trends are based upon the idea that the most powerful forces in our society are the emerging, counterintuitive trends that are shaping tomorrow before us’. Therefore moving into the future, tomorrow’s food tourist will be the upwardly mobile male, aged 26-44 who will see cultural capital and social cachet in America’s food experiences. In general, men are becoming more interested in food. This means more connectivity between food and wine, whether it is as an incentive product for those involved in business tourism or just more men taking food tours. Deluxe kitchen manufacturers will probably offer cookery lessons with the celebrity chefs in a wonderful location so you can learn how use all those gadgets. Cookery schools with probably offer ‘Man Food’ courses for those that want to know how to ‘cook a decent curry’ for those on urban weekends. Restaurants will be taken over by budding Gordon Ramsay’s, who will fight it out just like ‘Hell’s Kitchen’. Those budding celebrity chefs will pay for the privilege for doing so and they will invite their friends and relatives to consume that food (which you will charge for) and you will then sell them a DVD of the experience.

There has been a social overhaul of the kitchen from the isolated domain of the happy homemaker to the shared open space of The Great Room. Residential kitchens are being designed for two cooks. He has his requests, she has hers. There is a social shift in who does the cooking at home, to shared responsibilities. In contrast, in hospitality kitchens, male chefs have always dominated the industry. It was always harder for women to earn the top spots in fine dining restaurants. The competition to keep women out was fierce. Still, women have proven equal rank in some of the highest rated restaurants and hotels, creating greater competition for the top spots. Cooking shows are equally populated with male and female contestants vying for the title of Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen Champ. The cooking competition shows have contributed to a new enviable social status with a celebrity like presence. Have you seen these twenty something hot shots? I think this will influence how more young men might think about a culinary career like never before. These shows are culinary boot camp. Brimming with competition, bravado and throw down, the kitchen is no place for wimps. The men on these cooking shows, some of them have a mystique to their persona similar to a rock star. Mavericks, swarthy, dead serious about food, enviable knife skills. They make cooking skills look cool. Rock on! It’s all in the competition.

This translates to what men will be requesting in their own kitchen. I do believe the kitchen is a new way for men to show off status and fashion as an extension of their personal identity, the same way a car has been a reflection of one’s identity. Poggenpohl knows this with the first Porsche designed kitchen, designed especially with men in mind. With the return in popularity of the dinner party, and the trend of the great room where the kitchen is included in the living space, I do believe men will play a bigger part of the kitchen scene. No longer will they want to be relegated to the bar-b-que. This will surely be another reason to keep marriage therapists busy.

Posted in Celebrity Kitchens, Hot Topics, Kitchen Sociology, Kitchen Trends, Men in the Kitchen

Do men like being in the kitchen?

Over at Hospitality Net, there is a question posed to the reader in an article called ‘The New Food Tourist – Gordon Ramsay Eat Your Heart Out! | By Dr Ian Yeoman, Futurologist:

Do men like being in the kitchen?

Sure they do. I am not a social forecaster but as a kitchen designer I can testify to the fact that more men are actively researching and going out to the appliance stores and doing the research on the internet just as much as women. Maybe even more so than women. I have noticed that men are less cost conscious of appliances than women are, in that men are more concerned with getting the best quality and features, and will pay more to get them. Women tend to be more focused on the interior features of the cabinets, focusing on ease of access and the colors in the kitchen and similarly will pay more for cabinets than men will. I do believe men are more focused on the mechanics of the gadgets in appliance design, less so on color of cabinets. Also I do think that it is more than a single focus for men, it does involve self-fulfillment in showing off creative cooking skills and entertaining.

The article states: As pollster Mark Penn observes ‘micro trends are based upon the idea that the most powerful forces in our society are the emerging, counterintuitive trends that are shaping tomorrow before us’. Therefore moving into the future, tomorrow’s food tourist will be the upwardly mobile male, aged 26-44 who will see cultural capital and social cachet in America’s food experiences. In general, men are becoming more interested in food. This means more connectivity between food and wine, whether it is as an incentive product for those involved in business tourism or just more men taking food tours. Deluxe kitchen manufacturers will probably offer cookery lessons with the celebrity chefs in a wonderful location so you can learn how use all those gadgets. Cookery schools with probably offer ‘Man Food’ courses for those that want to know how to ‘cook a decent curry’ for those on urban weekends. Restaurants will be taken over by budding Gordon Ramsay’s, who will fight it out just like ‘Hell’s Kitchen’. Those budding celebrity chefs will pay for the privilege for doing so and they will invite their friends and relatives to consume that food (which you will charge for) and you will then sell them a DVD of the experience.

There has been a social overhaul of the kitchen from the isolated domain of the happy homemaker to the shared open space of The Great Room. Residential kitchens are being designed for two cooks. He has his requests, she has hers. There is a social shift in who does the cooking at home, to shared responsibilities. In contrast, in hospitality kitchens, male chefs have always dominated the industry. It was always harder for women to earn the top spots in fine dining restaurants. The competition to keep women out was fierce. Still, women have proven equal rank in some of the highest rated restaurants and hotels, creating greater competition for the top spots. Cooking shows are equally populated with male and female contestants vying for the title of Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen Champ. The cooking competition shows have contributed to a new enviable social status with a celebrity like presence. Have you seen these twenty something hot shots? I think this will influence how more young men might think about a culinary career like never before. These shows are culinary boot camp. Brimming with competition, bravado and throw down, the kitchen is no place for wimps. The men on these cooking shows, some of them have a mystique to their persona similar to a rock star. Mavericks, swarthy, dead serious about food, enviable knife skills. They make cooking skills look cool. Rock on! It’s all in the competition.

This translates to what men will be requesting in their own kitchen. I do believe the kitchen is a new way for men to show off status and fashion as an extension of their personal identity, the same way a car has been a reflection of one’s identity. Poggenpohl knows this with the first Porsche designed kitchen, designed especially with men in mind. With the return in popularity of the dinner party, and the trend of the great room where the kitchen is included in the living space, I do believe men will play a bigger part of the kitchen scene. No longer will they want to be relegated to the bar-b-que. This will surely be another reason to keep marriage therapists busy.

Posted in Celebrity Kitchens, Humor in the Kitchen, Kitchen Sociology, Kitchen Tours, Kitchen Trends, White Kitchens

Isaac Mizrahi in the Kitchen at Epicurious.com

I have to tell you, I cracked up and giggled most of the way as Isaac gives us a tour of his kitchen. His frenetic energy is the equivalent to a double shot of espresso. Check out the video link at the side bar on the left or visit http://video.epicurious.com/.

Lessons learned from Isaac:
We can all learn to live with a little dirt.

Secrets kept:

The contents of his refrigerator.

Favorite features in his kitchen:

His commercial faucet, his enamel white cabinets, the prep sink, his white Le Creuset cookware and home made mint chip ice cream.

Really a fun and creative man, definitely one you would want at a dinner party. Isaac shows that style does not mean we have to break the bank. Splurge where it’s worth the investment, (the appliances and cabinets), and spend a little less in easy care changeable dinner ware and accessories that can change easily as the mood or holiday dictates.

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Posted in Kitchen Sociology, Kitchen Storage, Modern Kitchens, Planning, Small Kitchens, Style Notes, Ventilation

At a moment’s notice entertaining: dinner for twenty or thirty people…

I find some people absolutely fascinating for their ability to be so well organized. I revel at the idea of a well organized, well stocked kitchen and pantry. Oh, that’s right, I am a kitchen designer, it goes with the territory, call me crazy but I happen to love this stuff. The ability to pull off your holiday entertaining and make it look “effortless” is not by accident.

As the holiday’s approach, I do not want to be running around “last minute” and neither should you. Large or small kitchens, everyone can benefit from knowing how to organize their kitchen space. For some inspiration, who else to turn to but legendary entertaining expert Colin Cowie. I pulled my copy off the shelf, “Colin Cowie Chic: The Guide to Life As It Should Be”.

His video is just as inspiring. See the side bar at the left to play. In the video, “The Efficient Kitchen”, Colin explains with grace and confidence, “literally at a moments notice I can have dinner for twenty or thirty people. That’s the way I like it.”

Talk to me baby, talk to me. How cool is that! Did you see his video? Imagine your freezer flush with several particular types of ice cubes ready to pair with the drinks being served. If you are as organized as Colin, then you know about Couture Cubes. Scotch on the rocks? Reach for the wonderful big round ice ball to keep your drink from watering down. A dark and stormy? Freeze your ice in tall Popsicle shaped ice cubes. Tequila? Nothing else will do but the tall shards of ice served in a champagne flute. Are you looking at last summer’s stale ice cubes and wondering where you went wrong? Don’t despair, there is hope yet for my ice cubed challenged friends. See page 145 of his book. A tip from the book: make your own “couture” ice cubes this holiday season. Look for star shapes, jewels, and flowers for mixed drinks. This is not just for alcoholic beverages, more ideas abound for the designated driver refreshments. Use ziploc bags to keep your ice cube shapes from shattering and picking up freezer odors.

Whether planning for a holiday party or planning to remodel your kitchen, make a true assessment of your space. Think about your lifestyle and design your kitchen around you and your family. An entertainers kitchen, a family kitchen, whatever it is, build in features that make your space special to you and your family. Clear out items that make no sense to hold onto.

My top ten favorite features in Colin’s contemporary kitchen and beyond:

  1. The under cabinet lighting is concealed without a light rail for a contemporary elegant detail. The bottom of the wall cabinet is recessed to achieve this attractive detail. No clunky light rail.
  2. The return of the oak cabinet but in a very modern way. The cabinets are gray. Colin’s reason for this is that he wants the food to be the center stage in his kitchen. Color pops with the accent of all white dinnerware and color from the stemware.
  3. The everyday dinnerware is located directly above the dishwasher for ease of access.
  4. The silverware drawer is built deeper, “as it should be”to allow several sets of silverware to be stacked one above the other. I don’t know why more face frame cabinet manufacturers won’t give us this option without going to great lengths to customize. This should be a basic feature. If you order frame-less cabinets you can pick up more space with the absence of the face frame, but still not as much as it should be.
    One of my tricks I will share with you: instead of a drawer, order a base cabinet with a full height door and add several deeper roll out trays for cutlery. You can store much more in the same cubic space in stead of a standard door/drawer combo.
  5. The storage: a well stocked freezer with chickens, racks of lamb, frozen soups, chicken and beef stocks. If your kitchen is small like Colin’s, plan for a freezer in your garage to stock up on all the necessities.
  6. Organize your spices alphabetically with the labels facing out, (I know it is a little reminiscent of the eerie move, “Sleeping with the Enemy”, but to be ready to entertain, you want to see everything at once in a well organized spice cabinet or drawer. as for spice storage, I avoid designing with swing out spice racks in wall cabinets, because I don’t like small jars falling off the rack. I find most of my clients feel the same. I prefer a wide drawer with all the spices at easy viewing. Again, this is where slightly deeper drawers would come in handy. Or utilize the pull out wall cabinets that are so handy for seeing all your spices. Warning about decorative wall mount spice racks above a stove: spices should be kept in the dark and away from heat to preserve the freshness. Also watch the expiration dates. Use them or loose the flavors in your next meal. Buying Costco sized spices? Are you really going to benefit from that much? Unless you are serving 1000 people a day, the best bet with spices is to buy smaller quantities to enjoy the freshness.
  7. Zoning: keep all the foils, wraps, plastic, wax paper in a drawer close to the refrigerator for ease of wrapping up left overs.
  8. Music. I love to have music piped in to my kitchen as I prepare a meal. It can be as simple as a shelf mini stereo or when planning your kitchen, factor in a place to hold a reciever and install built in speakers from the ceiling. My client in the Hollywood Hills had a very small kitchen and we found the perfect spot in the wall cabinet over the refrigerator to house his small Bose system. The doors were removed for ventilation and to access with a remote. CD changing was not a problem as he kept his top 5 in there and changed them out at random. Music equipement needs air circulation. Be sure to factor that in your design.
  9. Shop for fresh produce. Get out to your local farmers market. It is cheaper than buying frozen and tastes so much better.
  10. Enjoy your holidays!

Laurie

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Posted in Celebrity Kitchens, Glamour, Kitchen Sociology, Kitchen Tours

This weeks featured celebrity kitchen: Colin Cowie

Last week we toured Moby’s compact kitchen and discovered his favorite appliance: the microwave. A kitchen space that works well for a musician who spends most of his life traveling.

This week we take a tour to Colin Cowie’s kitchen through the web link at Epicurious. http://video.epicurious.com. Colin’s kitchen is the epitome of a well defined kitchen space, perfect for entertaining. Notice the grey stained oak cabinets. Very sophisticated.
Enjoy the tour. For more tours visit http://www.Epicurious.com or click on the side bar link.