Creative Kitchens

They are no longer just places to store pots and pans

homeowners are remodeling to reflect their personalities in a wide range of styles.

March 20, 2002|By Suzanne White | Suzanne White,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

If your kitchen is looking a bit tired and worn, it might be time to think about a make-over.

The latest kitchen designs leave plenty of room for individual flair. The chef's copycat industrial kitchen is making an exit, replaced with a softer look, antique finishes, decorative tiles and whimsical cabinet accessories.

Style is what marks today's kitchens. Cooks want to reflect their personality with kitchens that are traditional, cutting-edge, country or an eclectic extension of a home's exterior like Kathy Abbott and Gary Pushkin's kitchen in Baltimore's Guilford neighborhood.

Reflecting the style of their 1920s Italian stucco villa-style home, the kitchen is encased with white cabinets that complement the rich Italian granite counter tops with pink, gray, black and white flecks. Professional appliances and an overhead rack displaying the couple's copper collection round out the design.

Mingled with their kitchen necessities are a French pool hall ceiling fixture and an antique Irish wake table. Pushkin, an orthopedic surgeon who bakes for a hobby, lay across the table to make sure the length was right to serve as a family eating table.

"The purpose of the design was to have it blend with the 1920s look of the house," Abbott said about the couple's updated traditional kitchen, which was showcased on a Food Network segment called Ultimate Kitchens.

People are hopping on the kitchen-revamping bandwagon more than ever, a trend kitchen-design specialists attribute to the popularity of cooking magazines, high-profile celebrity chefs and multiple TV cooking shows that show high-end work areas.

Suddenly, home cooks want to slum around in blue-jean jackets in stylish kitchens with funky Italian chrome bar stools and gadgets galore, like cooking goddess Nigella Lawson, or entertain scads of lads from their trend-infused kitchen, like Naked Chef Jamie Oliver.

The cost of a make-over typically ranges between $20,000 and $40,000, although it can climb significantly higher, depending on the size of the kitchen and the appliances and materials selected.

Whether you've caught the kitchen redesign bug from television or out of necessity, whether you want to do a little or a lot, there is an avalanche of information out there to get you going. Trends and tips are found on the bookshelf, the Internet, through certified kitchen designers and people who cook for a living.

Enter the home of cookbook writer Nancy Baggett, who wanted her kitchen - which serves as a testing site 20 to 30 hours a week - to be comfortable and highly functional.

"I wanted to do a kitchen that fit in with my house," said Baggett, who lives in a Colonial-style home on a cul-de-sac in Ellicott City. "It had to be pleasant and spacious, but nothing too grand or elaborate."

Baggett opted for a U-shaped floor plan that allowed freedom of movement for more than one person. The color palette went from dark to light, with brick-colored vinyl flooring being replaced with pale gray-green ceramic tile.

Granite was chosen for the counter tops. "It's good to roll out on, and it's far more durable than limestone," said Baggett, author of The All American Cookie Cookbook and The International Chocolate Cookbook, for which she won an International Association of Culinary Professionals award in the baking- and-dessert category.

"For my purposes, the one thing that was critical was more ovens." She has three, and "It's not unusual for three of them to be in use at one time," Baggett said. Her new kitchen also includes vertical shelving, a must for baking sheets and jellyroll pans.

The Internet can be a useful tool for homeowners and certified kitchen designers like Kris Quinn, who is a member of the Baltimore-Washington chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

"We have an educated clientele, and the Internet has really helped," said Quinn, who works at Carriage Hill Cabinet and Millwork Co. in Frederick. "They come in with a wealth of knowledge and a good idea of what they want in appliances, cabinets, counter tops, lighting and flooring."

The Web's www.kitchens.com is at the heart of kitchen-design Internet sites, providing visitors with pictures of trends and layouts. The A to Z of appliances, counter tops, flooring, costs and more is outlined on this site.

A nifty feature of www.kitchens .com - operated by a third-generation kitchen designer, Karla Krengle - enables you to match a home's exterior architectural design with a kitchen plan that will complement the overall style of the home.

For example, owners of a Federal rowhouse in Baltimore would click federal, and a checklist would pop up showing cabinet-door types (lipped or full overlay), counter tops (laminate, granite or marble) and flooring material (linoleum, ceramic, wood or stone) that should go with the house.

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