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For Looks and For Cooks
Creating kitchens that work is all about picking the right ingredients.

By Judy Penz Sheluk

There was a time when work stations were reserved for restaurateurs, when stainless steel appliances were found only in the kitchens of gourmet chefs, and when faucets with a vegetable sprayer were state-of-the art. Times have changed.
What hasn't changed is the age-old desire to make the kitchen the heart of our home and now, more than ever before, homeowners are looking for a space that reflects their personal taste and simplifies their lifestyle.
Janet Hogan of Northern Custom Millworks, a family-owned business in Newmarket, Ontario since 1995 that specializes in custom kitchens, tells us what that means.

Ditch the Dining Room
Unless it's been converted into a home office, the dining room is frequently the most underused room in a house. Ironically, this space typically reserved for holidays and special occasions is often not large enough to seat guests when the big day arrives.
The solution? Knock down that partial wall and merge the kitchen and dining room into one large family-friendly space.
Tips: Designs should accommodate a variety of seating options in addition to the traditional table and chairs. Corner breakfast nooks, island stools and room for a comfy sofa all promote nesting. Built-in benches placed under windows can provide extra storage space for cookbooks and magazines.

Making it Work
Kitchens have traditionally been designed with the refrigerator, stove and sink forming a working triangle. This approach is now taking a back seat to designated work stations, with appliance garages hiding everything from microwaves and Mix Masters to coffee makers and toaster ovens.
Trends: Cappuccino/coffee bars; islands with feet and a furniture-look; washing up stations; family food prep area; baking station; double ovens; undermount sinks; single-hole, single-mount faucets with hi-arc spouts.
Still Hot: Stainless steel appliances, followed by black; movable islands or islands with built-in cook top and/or sink; pot lights and task lighting.

Solid surfaces - basically anything but laminate - reign supreme, with granite the king of the countertop. However, it's important to let homeowners know that some granite will need to be resealed occasionally. This protects the stone and helps to repel spills. Maintenance-friendly solid surface alternatives include quartz and Corian.
Affordable Alternative: Made in Canada, Hard Rock is a solid surface countertop of acrylic modified polyester resins and natural fillers, with the added benefit of invisible seams. Available in more than 100 colours, Hard Rock offers a 10-year limited warrantee, and is less expensive than other solid surface products currently on the market.

Cabinet Fever
Whites, creams and rich, dark woods... regardless of the colour choice, today's cabinets are all about paint effects, from elegant tone-on-tone lacquers to gently aged surfaces. Inside-hinged, European door-to-door styling is gaining favour over the more traditional frame-on cupboards. Range hoods have gone from functional to focal point. Mantle hoods can match or make a statement.
Trends: Bin pulls, matching panels to cover dishwashers and/or refrigerators, and bulkheads hidden with extended fronts.
Still Hot: Glass doors, under-cabinet lighting, tip-outs, pull-out pots and pans drawers.

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