Article as published in The San Diego Realtor® magazine
By Regina P. Brown
The kitchen is the heart of the home; the place where families gather, hosts entertain, and generations pass on traditions. And yeah… we cook food there too! Kitchens are often the most decisive room for buyers shopping for a home… especially meticulous wives and aspiring chefs.
Today’s edition of “Learn the Lingo” is devoted to part 1 of Gourmet Kitchens, including room layouts, cabinets, counters, and major appliances. We’ll show you the terms you need to know to clinch the sale for your buyer clients.
A comfortable kitchen layout sets the atmosphere and determines the workflow. Spacious U-shaped and circular shaped kitchens offer more cooking room, counter space, and often a breakfast bar. L-shaped counters are often combined with an island or peninsula. Traditional galley layouts are being scrapped in favor of bright, open kitchens that allow cooks and guests to chat while preparing meals and entertaining. A lavish kitchen is uniquely custom designed with a well-appointed layout.
Decadent cabinets define a high caliber kitchen. Kitchen designer Carla Leiran looks for sophisticated knobs and pulls with complementary matching hinges, and detailed features such as finishing touches of crown molding above cabinets. “It’s the small details that make a big difference in a high end kitchen,” she says.
Upscale cabinet finishes range from solid wood (favorites are cherry, maple, oak, and pine) to laminate and lacquered cabinets. Innovative cabinets include slide-out shelves, spice rack pullouts, and self-closing drawers. A “drawer in drawer” is a mini drawer, similar to a drawer insert, that’s tucked inside of a large drawer. It’s perfect for silverware, utensils, or linens for special occasions.
Turn an unused corner into an accessible shelf with a ¾ turntable that spins out. Even better, a “Magic Corner” allows full utilization of the dead space in a corner cabinet, by swinging out the front shelf and pulling the corner shelf forward.
The shiny polished look of granite is being edged out by honed granite which sports a matte finish. Today’s trendy glass tile and recycled crafted glass surfaces are quickly replacing the standard ceramic tile counter tops. Other recycled materials include concrete, paper, plastic, and other composites.
Laminate solid surfaces, such as Formica®, mimic the high end look of travertine at a fraction of the cost. The simple contemporary styling of Staron (acrylic) and Radianz (quartz) can lend a luxurious personal touch. Other custom solid surfaces include Avonite, Swanstone, and Corian®.
A butcher block counter hand-crafted from solid wood doubles as a cutting board and offers a warm, welcoming flair. A custom designed kitchen may feature solid travertine, carrara marble, or exotic stone counters. Modern selections include copper, soapstone, or metal such as copper and stainless steel.
Look for elegantly contrasting backsplashes with horizontal glass tiles, copper/tin/bronze square tiles, or ivory subway tiles. More fashionable kitchens include old world hand-painted wall mosaics and embossed textured concrete that has been stained and stamped for a modernistic appeal.
Major appliances, built-in and color-matched, add tremendous value to a kitchen. Eco-conscious “green” products promote energy sustainability while saving money on power bills, and Energy Star® qualified appliances can earn tax rebates.
Look for slate (a matte silver finish) to replace stainless steel as the hottest trend. White ice and black ice colors help major appliances can break out of the black/white tradition. Custom colors bring dynamic pops of red, yellow, or teal blue. For a refined finish, almond or ivory colors coordinate with the earth-tone palette perfectly.
Double-door refrigerators just don’t make the cut any longer. Discriminating homeowners are spending extra for mega capacity French door refrigerators (side-by-side top with bottom freezer drawer) to accommodate their family’s food storage needs. And integrated with cupboard panels covering the doors, large fridges blend seamlessly into the background. With refrigerators, interior space is measured in terms of cubic feet.
Top-of-the-line fridges include convenient features such as:
- Ice maker and ice crusher
- Tall water / ice dispenser area
- Multi-tiered shelves
- Door-in-door easy access to drinks & snacks
- Blast chiller
- Mini-drawers that flex
- Vegetable settings to de-humidify and keep veggies fresh
Sub-zero refrigerators, such as the popular Wolf built-in models, feature water filtration and air purification systems. To the large gourmet refrigerators, add a couple of compact refrigerated drawer at kid-height. Family friendly fridge drawers are perfect for children’s juices and snacks.
When it comes to dishwashers, think outside the traditional built-in under cabinet dishwasher. Save space with contemporary options such as:
- Drawer dishwashers (AKA dishdrawers)
- Compact dishwashers
- Countertop dishwashers
- In-sink dishwashers (for small spaces such as a kitchenette)
What is the difference between a stove, oven, and range? A stove is a cooktop that houses the burners for cooking with pots and pans. An oven bakes and roasts food inside, and often has a broiler underneath. A range is the kitchen appliance that combines both the oven and the stove into one unit. The cooking can be powered by fuel (gas or propane) or by electricity. However, modern gas stoves also need electricity to power all the fancy features, such as the clock, alarm, lights, and programming.
In a gourmet kitchen, don’t expect to see slide-in or freestanding ranges. Instead, double ovens, convection ovens, and custom installation ovens are the standard of luxury. Look for features such as a self-cleaning oven, an adjustable broiler, a warming drawer, and child lock-out safety feature.
Convection ovens are desirable for their quick and even cooking because it has a high-speed fan that circulates heated air as the food is being cooked. Regarded as a home cook’s favorite oven, often a custom kitchen will include a convection oven for roasting.
The new look includes retro appliances too! Antique ranges such Gold medal, Glenwood, and Brookline are lovingly restored to highlight their heirloom value. These one-of-a-kind vintage ranges bring unique character and charm into a kitchen, highlighting the home owner’s individuality.
Every chef’s dream kitchen certainly includes a gourmet stove cooktop. Wolf commercial cooktops with 6 gas open burners are regarded as the standard for home chefs preparing high quality meals. Do the burners offer quick-boil and low-simmer settings? Does it have pilotless ignition? Do the rings lift off for authentic wok cooking? Other great features that chefs crave:
- Griddle Top
- French Plate
- Hot Top
- Graduated French top
Induction electric cooktops with a smooth glass surface provide nearly instant heat for a metal pan, yet are safe to the touch for cooks. Features include multiple settings and count-down timers. Induction heating is an impressive tech advancement beyond the standard ceramic electric stovetop.
Hood vents serve the function of removing the smoke from the stove, but can also bring beautiful aesthetic design into a kitchen. They come in every style to suit the custom designed home, including modern styles such as:
- Wall mount
- Chimney hood
- Island mount
- Under cabinet
- Pro hoods
- Downdraft hoods
- Power packs
- Built-in / Insert blower
- Mantel style
A micro-hood, a microwave that doubles as a stove hood vent, helps keep the counter looking spacious and clutter-free. Island stoves may include a fan vent that pops up from behind, eliminating the need for a hood vent above.
Elaborate homes boast a built-in trash compactor, and most likely a recycle bin too. A built-in deep fryer is another great appliance on every chef’s wish list. Gourmet smoking ovens are at the top of the list too. And don’t forget that wood-fired pizza oven for the folks who really enjoy entertaining.
We hope you enjoyed this tour of Gourmet Kitchens, including room layouts, cabinets, counters, and major appliances. Stay tuned for next month’s part 2 of gourmet kitchens, where we’ll learn interesting features in sinks, faucets, lighting, flooring, and innovative gadgets.
Read more in our "Learn the Lingo" series:
1) Backyard & Outdoor Structures: Learn the Lingo
2) View From the Windows: Learn the Lingo
3) Architectural Styles: Learn the Lingo - Part 1
4) Architectural Styles: Learn the Lingo - Part 2
5) Learn the Lingo: Luxury Bathrooms
6) Learn the Lingo: Fences & Gates
7) Learn the Lingo: Vintage Features of Historic Homes
8) The Kitchen: The Heart of the Home Can Be Gourmet
9) The Gourmet Kitchen: Everything and the Kitchen Sink
10) Open the Door of Possibilities (Exterior Doors)
11) The Difference a Good Door Makes (Interior Doors)
13) Sustainable and Eco-Conscious Home Features (Part 1)
14) Sustainable and Eco-Conscious Home Features (Part 2)
15) Sustainable and Eco-Conscious Home Features (Part 3)
16) Roof Architecture – Don’t Let it Go ‘Over Your Head’
17) Let There Be Light Fixtures ... And There Are Many!
18) A Discussion of Ceilings Will Have You Looking Up
19) Fireplaces: Literally the Hearth of the Home
20) Learn the Lingo of Walls
21) Apply Your Knowledge to Major Appliances
22) Don't Be Floored By this Topic: It's Right Under Your Feet
23) HVAC / Mechanical Lingo
24) Rural Properties - A Sustainable Life "Off the Grid"
25) Land Usage, and Showing & Selling Rural Properties
26) The Dramatic Effect of Stairs and Staircases - A Flight of Fancy?
27) Electrical Components - Get Wired for Understanding
28) Learn the Lingo: Plumbing Fixtures (Part 1 of 2)
29) Learn the Lingo: Plumbing Fixtures (Part 2 of 2)
30) Swimming Pool and Spa Lingo