When PRODUCTS magazine recently asked designers from across the country to name their top kitchen product and design essentials, some discussed new or perennial favorites, while others responded with ongoing trends and popular client requests.
Others described features and amenities integral to any well-designed kitchen and bath. These include windows that offer generous views of nature and provide homeowners “a feeling of relief” when they’re working in the kitchen, says designer Lori Carroll, principal of an eponymous Tucson, Ariz.-based interior design firm.
Windows in bathrooms introduce plentiful natural light, which is ideal for a variety of grooming tasks, especially makeup application, notes Phil Kean, principal of Winter Park, Fla.-based design/build firm Phil Kean Design Group. “You want to get as much natural light as possible.”
Organizational accessories, such as cabinet drawer inserts, pullouts with adjustable shelving, and rollouts, are also a must in both kitchen and bath cabinetry. They ensure easy access to everything from spices and cooking utensils to skincare products and toiletries. Of course, all kitchens should have pullout trash and recycling bins, and all bath vanity drawers and medicine cabinets should incorporate outlets for powering hair appliances as well as for charging phones, says designer Kenneth Henry, of Alspaugh Kitchen and Bath, a design firm in St. Louis.
In terms of current trends, the audience for white kitchens, or more specifically, white marble countertops, remains captive. So much so that designers are using the same marble—often Calacatta—on the countertop and the backsplash for a more minimalist aesthetic. And because cleaner and sleeker are usually better, architect Lindsey Theobald, head of interiors for Feldman Architecture in San Francisco, has been opting of late for a reverse-knife edge, which streamlines counters and gives them a lighter look.
Although it’s not product-oriented, designers also cited a separate butler’s pantry as being indispensable to a well-functioning kitchen. Kean likes to conceal the butler’s pantry by using a door that matches the surrounding cabinetry. “It’s a really clean look,” he says. “We do a lot of that.” If space is limited, consider a tall storage wall with a few pantry pullouts, says Carroll.
Also less product specific, but equally significant, interesting architectural details can make the difference between a ho-hum kitchen and one that’s compelling and polished. Pay attention to transitions between materials and surfaces, such as the relationship between a countertop’s edge and, say, an adjacent refrigerator or cabinet. Carroll adds, “Often designers try to take the easy way out and not expend a lot of creativity.”
This is not to diminish the importance of choosing the right product. But because kitchens and baths are such personal spaces, very rarely is there one item that fits all. Nevertheless, here are 12 must-haves for the kitchen worth your consideration.