Give it Some Gas: As most chefs will tell you, cooking with gas will give you much more cooking versatility than electric. Instant heat, consistent low-level simmering, and quick cooldown make gas ranges and cooktops the ideal choice for both the professional chef and the ambitious novice. Check with your contractor and local building codes to ensure adequate ventilation and clearances. And for maximum practicality, consider going with a built-in cooktop and separate wall oven. Not only does this raise your oven to a more functional height, but also gives you a more elegant custom look than a freestanding range would.
Go back to the Stone Age: Use natural stone to add classic luxury to your kitchen. Hard-wearing, elegant granite or slate countertops are both beautiful and functional. Marble can be a bit more high-maintenance but is great as an accent, or on top of an island. There are also several new quartz composite countertops in a myriad of colours to compliment any colour scheme. If granite or quartz countertops aren’t in the budget, textured black slate-effect laminate can give you a glamourous look for a fraction of the price. Another way to dress up a simple countertop is to add a Carrara marble pastry board (available at most kitchen stores, or can be custom sized at a stone supplier).
Be a Show-Off: Add glass doors to some (or all) of your upper cabinets. Don’t wait for a special occasion to show off your cut crystal stemware and fine china; create glamourous focal points in your cabinets by grouping all your crystal together in one area, all your fine china together in another, and all your plain whiteware together. Use built-in halogen or LED cabinet lighting and glass shelves to accent your “bling” pieces. Built-in wine racks are also a great way to show off that vintage collection, or, if the budget allows, a built-in glass front wine chiller is the ultimate in kitchen luxe.
Lighten Things Up: Proper lighting can make or break the look of your kitchen. Single-pendant fixtures in the middle of the room and those eerie blue-white “Sunshine ceiling” fluorescent fixtures of yore just don’t cut it in today’s glamourous kitchens. As in any room, the best lighting is that which you don’t notice; lighting fixtures should draw attention to the room, not the fixture. The best kitchens incorporate a variety of light sources to accommodate the various functions they are used for: pendant or recessed pot lighting (all on dimmer switches) for ambient lighting throughout the room, LED under-cabinet task lighting around the perimeter of the kitchen, and halogen spotlights to highlight display areas.
Don’t Forget the Floor: Perhaps more than any other area, the myriad of different flooring options that have emerged in recent years provide both durability and elegance at any price point. Standard vinyl flooring is now available in a wide array of colours and textures that simulate tile, stone, cork and wood. Laminate flooring is a less expensive and lower maintenance way to achieve the look of wood and is an easy DIY project. Many of the new ceramic tiles on the market give you the look of slate, granite, or marble at a fraction of the cost. And, if the budget allows, real hardwood and natural stone floors can give you timeless elegance and are a fantastic upgrade when it comes time for resale.
Above all, your kitchen should be a reflection of your own personal style. As the heart of the home, it should be warm, welcoming, and inviting to your family and your guests.
So go on, make your living room jealous!
By Jeff James, as printed in Renovations Magazine
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