What is trending in 2015 kitchen design? The all-white kitchens of 2012 and 2013 are fading out however the simplistic, less cluttered look is continuing. Think slab splash backs, raw materials and wide open spaces. Kitchen updating and improvement is becoming more a matter of personal look and functionality than it is in increasing home value, but with the main motivating factors of kitchen improvement being to upgrade appliances, increase storage and adapt to changing lifestyles by increasing energy efficiency - your home value will naturally increase.
The Island Bench
In a recent study conducted on a group of homeowners about to undertake kitchen renovations, 61% said they were planning on including a island bench in their design. The increased popularity for island benches mirrors the changing function of a kitchen from what used to be a meal preparation area to what now has become a social gathering and entertaining space.
The island bench fascination arose for the sheer functionality benefits that allow it to become an area for serving, cooking, entertaining, displaying, storing and eating. Normally standing at 7-8ft long but in latest trends, extending to over 12ft, the long island bench provides space to prepare, cook and serve a meal all from the same bench top. Mess can be made at one end and left while delightful delicacies are devoured down the other.
Unlike kitchen designs from 10 years ago where spaces were segregated to section off areas for meal prep, cooking and serving, the focus has now changed to opening up the space and allowing the cook to face their guests and prepare food in view of family and friends. If sharing mess is not your thing though, a heightened splash back around your island bench can create a small division whilst not alienating you from the party. By heightening your splash back, you can create more storage opportunities as well as forming a raised bar area to serve mojitos.
Seating and Dining
Seating along an island bench on one side is a great option for a growing family with young kids. However if wanting to entertain a more mature age group, think about turning one end of your bench into a more classical dining table with seating along both sides and the end. A general measurement of 2ft in length per person should be followed to avoid elbow conflict at the table.
If adding seating arrangements to your island bench, cabinetry can be a squeeze. Typical base cabinets are 24 inches deep and minimum seating area for leg room lies at 12 inches but more comfortable at 18 inches. Therefore, to incorporate seating on both sides as well as cabinetry in the middle, a 60 inch wide island bench would be advisable. Another idea is to have cabinetry down just one end and an open base down the other where your seating lies. Some clever ideas to maximise storage area is to integrate cupboards, draws and even shelving in a slightly raised splash back, as talked about above. Shallow cupboards on the end that only need to be 3 inches in depth can store birthday cards, wrapping paper and take-away menus. A bar fridge could also be installed at one end.
Choosing your materials for your island bench is a very personal decision. To match or to contrast? If you don't want to create a statement island and want to allow the bench to blend in like furniture, choose a fine textured wood grain. If you want your island bench to blend in as part of the kitchen, match it with your cabinetry materials. Choosing a bold coloured stone will create a focal point in your kitchen and make it more prominent as a table. Just remember that most natural stone slabs are only cut in blocks up to 8ft which is very limiting if you intend for a large island bench and are opposed to seams. Options are much greater in wood or stainless steel for these large dimensions.