How kitchen design is changing

"We see families using the kitchen as a communal space, which will continue to impact kitchen design' says Massimo Ballucchi, director of marketing for Cosentino Americas.

It's no secret that the kitchen is often regarded as the heart of the home — a central gathering spot where food is prepped and eaten, families and friends bond, and memories are made. But the extent to which kitchens are being increasingly used in different ways may be greater than you think, research suggests.

Results of a recent poll by the Cosentino Group reinforces what experts and homeowners alike have known for a long time: that the modern kitchen is being designed as more of a common and versatile area conducive to multitasking. Among the key findings: 57% use their kitchen for activities other than cooking and eating

54% employ social media as an influence to redecorate or remodel their kitchen

43% consume their main meals in the kitchen

29% use the room to host guests

17% perform other tasks in this space

11% utilize the kitchen as a workspace

7% use smartphones to interact with devices in the kitchen, including appliances and lights.

"The kitchen has increasingly become the space where we spend most of our time," says Massimo Ballucchi, director of marketing for Cosentino Americas who is based in Coral Gables, Florida, the U.S. headquarters of the Cosentino Group. "It's not only used for cooking and eating but also for activities formally reserved for the office, living room and dining room. We see families using the kitchen as a communal space, which will continue to impact kitchen design."

Erin Hayes, owner of Woodland Road Design in Westwood, Massachusetts, says these survey results make sense.

"I hear all the time from clients that they practically live in their kitchen, so it's only logical that it should serve many purposes. Consequently, I think many homeowners are planning ahead for multipurpose use in their kitchens," says Hayes.

Sarabeth Asaff, an interior designer for Wilmington, Delaware-based Fixr, echoes those thoughts.

"Kitchens have been getting bigger for years, and as they get bigger, they get used more. Larger contemporary kitchens are being designed around people's needs and not just around cooking," Asaff notes.

In a recent kitchen Asaff designed, for example, the homeowners stressed the priority of being able to entertain guests comfortably. So Asaff had the idea of implementing a mini-bar area with an Elkay sink that was the perfect spot to hold cold soda and beer.

Oversized islands, which cater to the trends above, also remain popular.

"Large islands are a great spot for many people to gather around and chat comfortably while snacking and drinking, with the added bonus of providing increased cabinetry or drawers underneath for added storage space," says Hayes. Additionally, a generously sized island can serve as the perfect spot for kids to complete homework or for fielding a phone call, reading the newspaper, and working on a light-duty project.

Creating zones within a larger kitchen space remains another movement gaining traction.

"Homeowners want bigger, open footprints with zones to work, cook or spend time entertaining in," Ballucchi adds. "And with increased use in traffic comes a bigger push for durable yet beautiful materials in today's' kitchens, too."

Angie Lane, owner of A. Lane Architecture in Te-cumseh, Michigan, points to increase demand for additional seating, appliances and elbow room in kitchens.

"Larger kitchen islands are more accommodating to crowds while allowing the cooking and food prep to happen, and additional seating is a natural outcome of having more people in the room," says Lane. "I'm also noticing more double wall ovens, two dishwashers, extra-large refrigerators, and specific entertaining appliances like wine chillers and coffee stations."

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