The epitome of the elegant, minimalist style is contemporary kitchens. The modern kitchen is distinguished by dark wood or black cabinetry, fresh white countertops and sleek stainless steel appliances. The internet is full of reports and blogs that people claim to represent the luxury kitchen market are making. These days, though, "luxury" is an overused word. Now that "luxury to the masses" is a common marketing slogan in everything from handbags to kitchen tiles, discovering what the real luxury buyer is really searching for... to be set apart from the mass market has become difficult to wade through the wealth of information. As a kitchen designer for a British high-end company, I rarely engage in projects that cost less than $100,000 (often that amount is surpassed by the cabinet itself). So I think I'm on the front lines of engaging with the real luxury consumer. Make these ideas if you are constructing, remodeling, or planning a luxurious kitchen (or maybe you just want to imitate one).
1. Comprehend the difference between an inset door panel cabinet and an acrylic screen cabinet. The higher-end alternative is perceived to be a framed cabinet with an inset screen, whereas cabinetry with overlay doors is the most common type on the market today. Many of my clients are not acquainted with this distinction when they enter my studio so I invite you to see cabinetry in person from both groups if you are not familiar as well. Yet basically a wooden cabinet with an inset door is a cabinet box with a fixed frame mounted on the front of this box. Then the door of the cabinet sits inside the frame (flush). In this way, traditional English cabinetry was made by the bench and still holds appeal today. The overlay cabinet may be framed or frameless, but the door overlaps the frame or container regardless. In a contemporary kitchen where tidy, sleek lines are required, a frameless cabinet with gloss doors can be very attractive. Nonetheless, this is seen as an inexpensive way to produce a lot of cabinets in terms of traditional cabinetry. A framed cabinet with an inset door is much more work to be done and needs much more craftsmanship in order to get everything in its aperture properly aligned. If your home value is more than $1.5 million, you really ought to buy framed cabinetry with inset doors. It is simply associated with a perceived quality.
2. Spend your money on high-end cooling. Most of my clients still choose to hide behind custom cabinetry panels their refrigerators. Nonetheless, I would advise you not to skimp on your fridge even if you want the professional look of stainless steel. A few years ago, for fully integrated refrigeration, Sub Zero had a firm corner on the market. By "full integration," I mean the refrigerator can be designed to sit flush with the cabinet (24 "deep) without the need for a grate of stainless steel above it and without an exposed frame of stainless steel. Today, however, this feature is being introduced by several more suppliers, including Miele and Thermador. Although not all of my projects use a fully integrated fridge, most of them do. Luxury kitchens also feature a pair of refrigerators paneled and designed to look like a cupboard or elegant piece of furniture. In fact, if done well, this may be the best focal point for your kitchen.
3. Design a space to hide all your top counter devices like coffee makers, toasters, blenders, etc. Most well-designed high-end kitchens provide the homeowner with the comfort of "uncluttered" counter tops. Aesthetics, after all, is a big part of what you pay for. This can sometimes be a large walk-in cabinet with an integrated cabinetry. Alternatively, I have often used a method to create a large larger cabinet near the sink and refrigerator. This larger cabinet, complete with pocket doors, can have an internal counter top with outlets attached to the back of the cabinet to plug into a variety of small appliances from the microwave to the stand mixer. The hope here is that everything is already wired in and easily accessible. No luxury kitchen should require the homeowner to remove from a base cabinet a heavy appliance.
4. Consider using a mix of top counter materials. A single marble or granite material on all counter surfaces can look quite cold in today's large luxury kitchens. Maybe it's because these large kitchens have just so many square feet of counter top product. Regardless, this is a careful line to walk because you can quickly look like a trend using too many different materials. Consider using your chosen stone around the perimeter counter tops to be easy on the eye and then choose the island's wood top. This breaks down the stone's coldness factor while it does not conflict with your marble, calcareous or granite pattern.
5. Don't put your dishwasher with a stainless steel panel. It's just a pet peeve of mine. I don't believe the dishwasher is an attractive appliance, personally. Therefore, putting a stainless steel panel on it does not have any added value-even if all of your other appliances are stainless steel. Placing an inoxidable steel door on your dishwasher splits the visual view of the stunning cabinet you're splurging on. I urge you to take a fully integrated dishwasher model into consideration. Miele, Bosch, and Asko both offer excellent fully integrated versions at the moment. Once, the word "fully integrated" means that the entire front of the dishwasher (including the controls) is concealed behind a board of the cabinetry. You won't be able to differentiate between the dishwasher and any of the nearby cabinetry if done properly.