In the past, the kitchen was considered more of a service space that was physically separated from the dining room and living spaces that were dedicated to entertaining. With the advent of open plans, great rooms and the more informal living spaces associated with the modern way of living, the kitchen has become a place for entertaining. NMA Architects share a variety of their kitchen designs and highlight current trends in kitchen islands, custom cabinets and accessories.
People love to congregate around the kitchen. The preparation of the food has become integral part of the social scene. In a kitchen without an island, the stove, the sink, and the counter working spaces face the walls and there is no place for seating. This older style of service kitchen, while practical for food preparation, is not conducive to social interaction or entertaining. A kitchen island, on the other hand, locates the sink, stove, and counter working space within the room and usually integrates some form of bar stool seating. This allows the cooks and the guests to gather around the island with the preparation of the food as a backdrop for entertaining.
“These days clients tend to prefer their islands to be more of the focal point of the kitchen,” states NMA partner Dave Mendro. “The islands are getting larger with more working elements and more seating. Kitchen tasks (sink and dishwasher, oven and cooktop with overhead vent hood, prep sink and drain board, stool seating, televisions, wine racks and wine refrigerators, microwave oven drawers, etc.) are integrated into the island, and the rest of the kitchen and cabinets serve as backdrop and support.”
Another trend is that kitchen islands are treated as high-design elements with custom features such as waterfall ends (the countertop surface continues over the top and down the end sides of the island), flush glass or stainless steel surface finishes, tightly fitted mitered corners and knife edge joints, etc. As a result of this trend: there are many high-end cabinet manufactures (mostly European companies) that provide customized modular cabinet systems with a myriad of high-design aesthetic and functional options more akin to a fine European sports car. NMA has worked with top manufacturers including Balthaup, Pogenpohl, Boffi, and Valcucine.
There several main aesthetic approaches to the design of a kitchen island. The approach most commonly used is to integrate the island design with the rest of the cabinetry of the kitchen for a single integrated design aesthetic. The style can be traditional, contemporary, or transitional. The idea is that kitchen and island are derived from a consistent design style and materials (i.e. cabinets, countertops, hardware). They are all designed to match and to be well integrated both aesthetically and functionally.
Another approach is to highlight the island as a singular custom design element differentiated from the other cabinetry of the rest of the kitchen. This can be done through the design style, shape, form and materials, or any combination thereof. Because the island is detached from the walls and the rest of the kitchen: it can be a much more free form element. Sinks, plumbing fixtures, cutting/drain boards, and other functional items can be highlighted as customized island elements as well.
NMA is an architectural studio rooted in the sleepy seaside town of Carpinteria California, just a few short miles south of Santa Barbara. NMA is a diverse team of talented people who love what they do. We’re a passionate, down-to-earth group who continually push ourselves as well as our clients while remaining collaborative and flexible along the way. Our work spans from small-scale remodels to multi-million dollar projects, but regardless of size, we apply our trusted approach to each and every one of them.
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