place that busy families cook, chat and congregate

  The kitchen is the . Long considered “the heart of the home” kitchens are now the new family room, a hub of activity for families and guests.

  “Whether you are entertaining, helping kids with homework or cooking weeknight dinner, everyone tends to congregate in the kitchen,” says Lindsey Schwartz, a designer with S&W Kitchens in Melbourne. “Therefore you really want to make sure the space is designed for your specific needs to make it a pleasurable place to be.”

  So there’s no surprise that manufacturers and builders are offering additional features and designs to simplify and beautify the most frequently used room in the home. Some local experts share their insight on the latest trends and styles.

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  Less is More: Less is more in regards to the latest color. Gray is the newest color trend for kitchens. “Gray is the new beige,” according to Cathi Lane, designer with Burton Luxury Homes. “Cabinet color is generally the starting point and other elements are built from there.”

  “Lots of whites, all shades, and gray tones,” Lindsay agrees. “Beige is always popular but we are seeing trends to select taupe tones.”

  Stainless-Steel: Sleek silver stainless-steel appliances are popular now as well. Manufacturers now offer finger-print resistant steel. Exposed stainless-steel hoods are popular versus cabinet hoods of the past, according to Cathi.

  Eco-friendly: products made from sustainable materials are increasingly popular. Bamboo cabinets, reconstituted veneer cabinetry instead of exotic veneers, recycled glass countertops are some options that are available. Star-rated appliances help homeowners save money on energy bills and reduce the use of natural resources.

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  Come on in: Walk-in pantries, located near the kitchen and garage, are a solution for large families and those who like to buy in bulk. All baking supplies, canned goods and surplus commodities are hidden behind a closed door, to make room for dishes and other items that are used daily.

  Ease of Use

  perhaps the most important quality to consider during a design or remodel phase is ease of use.

  “people want speedy cooking options and lots of well-placed, purposeful cabinetry storage,” says Joe Goldblatt, general manager of Roomscapes of Brevard. “Also two-zone and three-zone kitchens are becoming the norm as more and more ‘living’ and entertaining start and stop in or near the kitchen.”

  Cooking “zones” are developed to accommodate various functions in the kitchen and more than one cook. “The key is multiple sinks and proper placement of all the other elements in each zone.”

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  “No matter where we start, we make sure all the options have been considered. Everything in design is a tradeoff,” Joe says. “We don’t over complicate things but we give our customers the feeling of confidence that they made their decisions based on solid information.”

  Lindsay agreed that working with homeowners is the key to a functional and beautiful space.

  “We like to ask our clients lots of questions about the way they need the space to function for them. We also like to listen to their personal tastes and look at some of the existing décor in their home so we can incorporate that within our design while keep the space true to home’s style.”

  Christopher Burton Luxury Homes offers models to help clients get an idea of where to start. “The kitchen is the most important space in the home and most homeowners design the rest of the home from this space,” Cathi explains.

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Considering adding beadboard accents

The kitchen is the room where you likely

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stone and bolder colour choices will all star

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