What's Cooking in the Kitchen?

The way homeowners and tenants use their homes – especially their kitchens – is constantly evolving, and no more so than in the last two years. The function of a house has transformed since the pandemic, now becoming a blended place and changing the way architects will design spaces in the future.

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Combined with the rise of increasingly smarter technology and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, homeowners are demanding a kitchen that works harder, functions in multiple ways and doesn’t break the bank – but will stand the test of time. A default requirement that will never change is a stylish, sleek and on-trend kitchen.

Here, Ruth Lavender, Design Expert at Benchmarx Kitchens, discusses the latest trends in kitchen design she has encountered through the account management and design support Benchmarx provides to housebuilders and developers.

Multifunctional spaces

Now more than ever, kitchens are being used as flexible areas that serve as a place to prepare meals and as daytime offices, dining rooms and entertaining spaces.

Kitchen design needs to reflect this shift in how people use their homes and consider all the purposes these areas serve. Open-plan living has grown in popularity as a result, with people blending their living zones with their kitchens to create one multifunctional space.

This means that kitchen design has become more focused on maximising space and finding new solutions to make rooms work for various purposes. No matter the size of the kitchen, clever, cost-effective solutions can be introduced in the design process to ensure that it functions well as a multi-use room. Split-level islands, seating nooks and breakfast bars are all great options, providing an area to work in throughout the day whilst also offering an informal dining solution at mealtimes.

When we work with housebuilders, we recommend incorporating helpful details like accessible plug sockets by workspaces, wireless chargers and integrated bins to facilitate a fluid lifestyle, ensuring that the kitchen design works for any homeowner. Not only do these details help the kitchen reach its full potential, but they ultimately make it more appealing to potential homeowners too.

CASE STUDY: Westfield Homes

Benchmarx Kitchens supplied kitchens to 20 luxury apartments at Westfield Homes’ Little Windrush development, situated in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The brief was to create an on-trend kitchen, and the Benchmarx contract sales team worked closely with the architect to ensure the kitchen design aligned closely with the vision for the development.

Dark blue, shaker-style cabinetry from Benchmarx’s Sherwood and Somerset Shaker ranges was specified to fit current trends. The kitchen was designed to flow effectively into the open-plan living area. The space includes a well-appointed kitchen island and breakfast bar, as well as mod-cons, such as a wine cooler, to tap into the trend for a multifunctional space that allows for entertainment and dining.

Benchmarx Kitchens offers specialist contract sales solutions, providing dedicated account management, design expertise, and local supply support.

Zoning

Despite the growing popularity of open-plan living and multifunctional spaces, it remains a priority for homeowners to be able to distinguish and separate specific areas of the kitchen so they can fulfil their intended use effectively. The need to compartmentalise these various purposes should not be underestimated when creating a space with ambience.

To achieve successful zoning, we see more demand to incorporate clever lighting choices into a design, as it is the greatest asset in creating a zoning effect to highlight specific focal points. This technique caters to any family and their needs while creating a relaxing and inviting ambience for all to enjoy. The options for lighting schemes offer the opportunity to influence and personalise a space, ultimately bringing together the design.

The blend of indoor and outdoor living

Blending indoor and outdoor living is a trend set to stay, as it can unlock a home’s potential and increase the functionality and enjoyment of a property.

We’re seeing more demand to merge indoor space with the outdoors by incorporating an outdoor kitchen, allowing a homeowner to cook and host in the garden. This can help increase the value and appeal of a property and is something we offer up for consideration when working with a housebuilder keen to add an extra point of interest to a property.

To ensure the design of the outdoor kitchen blends well with the interior, I’d always recommend using the same countertop material and cupboard design in a water-resistant variety. Bi-fold and sliding doors also help to open the indoor space up, offering a seamless route to the outside area when entertaining and encouraging a seamless flow between the two areas.

Shaker styling

Shaker-style furniture has been around for centuries and is one of the most popular designs for kitchens used to date. It’s a trend that ebbs and flows in popularity but is firmly back in vogue and is set to continue to be in demand across the coming years. Its central concept revolves around flat centre panelling and square edges, with minimal detailing. The evolution of this style has seen new features such as banquette seating and handleless designs, which offer a contemporary approach to renew the traditional shaker appeal.

This style is the embodiment of simplicity. For housebuilders looking to install a staple kitchen design with a modern twist, opting for a shaker kitchen in a striking colour – such as our Cambridge Driftwood blue or Forest green, for example – can be an ideal solution.

Smart kitchens

Integrating smart technology in the kitchen is a trend that will continue to grow in popularity. From creating a personalised lighting scheme to alerting the homeowner to burnt food, smart kitchen technology provides a helping hand to make cooking both safer and more relaxing.

Smart technology can also help the homeowner switch the space from work to home modes through customisable lighting operated from a phone or Google Hub. This is a simple yet subtle way to transform a kitchen from its daytime purpose as a home office to a space where the homeowner can enjoy meals with family and friends.

Adding smart appliances to the kitchen can be just as vital – if not more so – as choosing cupboards or worktops. By incorporating them early in the design stage, housebuilders can maximise functionality for the end user whilst adding an additional element of practicality to the space, all of which can be reflected in the property’s price point.

Muted colours

Homeowners spending more time at home due to a change in working habits may want to take the plunge to be a little braver with their kitchen designs. However, designing kitchens for a housing development tends to be all about finding a colour scheme that is not only on trend but also has universal appeal to suit most people’s tastes.

When considering colour scheme ideas, we often propose muted colours, such as Driftwood blue, Sage green and Greys, as they offer a more interesting design than an all-white kitchen while providing that desired pop of colour that is a point of differentiation.

Blue is becoming an increasingly popular choice in kitchen design. It is an incredibly versatile colour that avoids clashing and can be easily accessorised with many other hues or furnishings. Shades of blue are also associated with calm, so they can only serve to provide an element of peace and serenity in a high-traffic room.

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