Your kitchen. It’s where all the best parties end up. It’s where you and your family spend most of your time together. It’s the heart of the home, where you start your day, where you gather to rest and recharge, where you share food and laughter with friends. Is it time to reinvigorate or completely reimagine this centerpiece of your home? These area professionals can show you how.
Sales Representative Jerry Schmidt describes his family’s business, DreamHouse DreamKitchens, as a complete design and remodeling firm headquartered in Madison. With an enormous selection of cabinets, countertops, sinks, faucets, and many finishes, they work with clients to literally build the kitchens of their dreams.
“One of the things that really sets our business apart is that we’re a one-stop shop,” Schmidt says. “From the day a customer walks into our showroom with an idea about how to renovate or remodel their kitchen until the project is completely finished, the client works directly with us. Our designers will advise on colors and finishes, and create a full 3-D color rendering of the new space. Once the design is approved, our production crew visits the job site, secures all the necessary permits, revises construction drawings, and orders all the materials needed. That way, when the project starts in earnest, they can hit the ground running.”
According to Dream Team Designer Jenna Mattison, there are a lot of different materials that are hot right now for kitchens. “Layering and combining materials is also a big trend,” she says. “For example, in a project we just finished, the clients used concrete countertops, reclaimed wood accents, and a variety of different metal finishes in the fixtures. Another client is using reclaimed wood on an accent wall to play off of the colors and grain of their granite kitchen countertop. They are also using a mix of textured natural stone and blackened steel in a custom hood. It’s increasingly popular for light fixtures to feature a combination of metals or a mix of wood and metal. Some plumbing fixtures also have two-tone color options.”
Tile backsplashes and open shelves continue to be right on trend in kitchen design. “Large, chunky, open shelves are a great way to display items to enhance the kitchen’s style,” Mattison says. “Shelves also provide visual relief in the amount of cabinetry in the space.”
Backsplashes are both functional and a place for creativity. “We are using a lot of tile, in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors,” Mattison adds. “Even if a client wants a classic white subway tile, we have options to choose from to enhance their kitchen’s style. One client chose a beveled 3x6 subway tile to add a detailed accent in her traditional kitchen.” Glass is popular for backsplashes too. “There are so many techniques and textures for glass that it becomes quite a statement piece on a backsplash,” Mattison says.
Overall, she says that natural, neutral colors are still the most popular foundation for kitchens, primarily whites and grays. “The color gray is actually expanding, with many different finishes and texture options to evoke a coastal feel,” Mattison says.
In addition, many of DreamHome DreamKitchens’ clients are designing “forever homes” so they request classic features instead of items that are trendy. In that case, accents can add bold pops of color, and can be easily replaced when fashions change.
Fellow Dream Team Designer Kimberlin Payne agrees. “Most people are looking for a design that will stand the test of time. So, while bold colors or prints might not be very common in kitchens right now, many clients are choosing to feature statement pieces to add a pop of color,” she says.
In terms of layout, Mattison says she sees an increased variety of seating options in kitchen and dining areas. “Many individuals are looking for multi-functional spaces, so a kitchen island with seating can function as an eat-in kitchen, but can also be used as a homework zone, craft area, or just a gathering space,” she says.
By talking extensively with their clients, the designers can fully understand each individual’s need for each space. Recently Mattison had a client who planned to work on her laptop from her kitchen island every day for several hours. “So we created desk features for the cabinet,” Mattison says. “The top drawer had space for an outlet, so the client could charge and store her computer there. It also housed dividers for pencils and pens and other miscellaneous work supplies. Another nearby cabinet had several pull-out drawers to store her printer and extra paper.”
Payne notes some other popular custom requests in kitchen design that she gets from clients. “Larders have been a great way for clients to gain storage space that is also functional,” she says. “These large cabinets come down to the counter level. They have bi-fold doors that can be peeled back, creating an immediate workspace, with small appliances and baking supplies at your fingertips.” She notes, too that many clients are keeping their toasters, blenders and stand mixers inside the larder to help keep their countertops clear of clutter.
In addition, Payne says that refrigerator and freezer drawers are becoming a key feature for kitchens, bars and coffee centers. “With wood fronts to match the cabinetry, the drawers blend in seamlessly and are a great place to gain extra cold storage without the space requirements of a
full refrigerator,” she says.
Wood fronts on refrigerators and dishwashers also allow clients to keep a consistent look throughout their kitchen. “In addition, we get a lot of requests for hidden pet-care areas,” Payne says. “We have been creating hidden dog bowl pullouts that sit within the toekick of a cabinet, and higher platforms for cat food—usually to keep it away from the dog! We even do integrated cat litter areas with tiled surrounds.” Dog bed platforms, washing stations, and storage for leashes and pet food are increasingly common features of mudrooms.
In terms of organization, divided interiors for drawers and cabinets play a major role in keeping the kitchen functional and organized. By creating custom dividers for items like utensils, baking supplies, Tupperware and baking trays, Payne explains that designers can maximize storage space. “This also creates a roadmap for move-in day, which is a handy bonus!” she says. “Ultimately, personalization that meets our clients’ functional and aesthetic preferences in a timeless way creates good design. That is what we do best at Dream,” she says.
At CTW Abbey Carpet & Floor, Kitchen and Bath Specialist Samantha Nelson provides clients with design services to upgrade or completely renovate kitchens, but she also works with outside designers and builders to supply flooring, backsplash materials, countertops and cabinets.
“Our main priority is always to serve the client however we can,” she says. “Once we understand their vision, we can determine what brands and materials best suit their project. For example, we carry four different cabinet lines; each brand offers its own features and benefits. Each one also has its own price point.”
After Nelson develops plans for a new space, she presents a rendering to the client for approval. “We are here to help from preliminary design all the way to finished installation,” she says.
Nelson says her customers today generally gravitate toward clean, simple looks for their new kitchens, exemplified in the Shaker cabinet-door style. Also popular is the “modern farmhouse,” style, which incorporates Craftsman architectural elements. Color palettes typically start with a foundation of cream, white and gray, accented by navy blue, gold and natural elements such as stone or butcher-block countertops. “Quartz also continues to be a great material for countertops,” she says, “since it delivers both beauty and durability, and requires very little maintenance.” Large-format tile and wide-width long plank wood are in demand for kitchen flooring.
Currently Nelson is excited to incorporate some new products into kitchen designs. These include closet systems that are fully customizable, and Dekton quartz countertops. “We recently introduced Dekton to our showroom,” she says. “It’s highly resistant to scratching; household utensils will not leave marks on the material. It’s perfect for kitchens since it can also withstand high temperatures.” In the flooring department, Nelson is looking forward to working with Lauzon Pure Genius wood flooring, which can improve air quality, reduce odors, and help prevent the growth of bacteria or mold spores in your home. “It’s great for kitchens, and it’s the perfect product for anyone with allergies,” she says. •
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