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May 4, 2008

Kitchen Design Trends

Kitchens have always been, and continue to be, the heart of every home. Less traveling and more entertaining have made certain that dust doesn’t gather on most countertops. Also, many socio-economic factors have made household sizes grow to numbers that were last seen fifty plus years ago. While some lifestyles have come full circle, today’s kitchen does not resemble any predecessor from another period.

Kitchen renovations continue to be a common request by homeowners across the country. Hanley Wood Publications does a comprehensive annual study of remodeling projects nationally and by region. The article is printed in its Remodeling Magazine and named “Cost vs. Value”. The study reviews typical projects and the average investment amounts for a midrange and upscale options. The midrange kitchen remodel is listed to have an average national investment of $55,503. The upscale version for a 200 square foot kitchen, which includes stone countertops, cherry wood cabinets, gourmet appliances and an extensive lighting package, is valued at $109,394. Every project is individualized for each client and home, therefore pricing and options vary tremendously. While not the definitive price list, “Cost vs. Value” has served as a helpful, planning guideline for homeowners for the last twenty years.

Neil Parsons, VP of Sales and Marketing at Mark of Excellence Remodeling, has seen many remodeling requests and trends evolve through the years. Kitchen remodeling is no exception.
Neil lists five items or features below that are being incorporated in today’s kitchen designs that were usually not included or even discussed as recent as ten years ago.

One item is a convection oven. Convection ovens utilize fans to force heated air across the food. The forced air breaks the thin insulating layer of air that surrounds food. This process decreases the cooking time or the temperature required for the food preparation. Convection ovens are typical the second oven in a kitchen as part of a double wall oven unit or as microwave-convection oven combination.

Beverage centers can be found free standing or built into base cabinets. Beverage centers are smaller refrigerators designed to store wine, beer and soft drinks. The more expensive units have the ability to set separate temperatures for each shelf making the multi-use beverage storage possible and enjoyable for all tastes. It cuts down on the use of the much larger main refrigerator. Sizes, features and prices will vary. The price range is typically $200 to $2,000.

If the room or area permits, fireplaces are on the wish list of many families. Direct vent, natural gas fireplaces are the common choice. The options here are plentiful. Free standing, simulated wood-burning stoves require only a small area and are reasonably priced. Built-in units with a stone wall, hearth and a wood mantel can transform any room.

A generation ago every kitchen had a telephone on the wall with a phone book and note pad in the closest draw. Today cabinet layouts often contain a work station. A place for a chair, leg room and counter space. Yes the telephone is still there but it is usually accompanied by a personal computer, laptop or PDA, therefore the phone numbers are stored electronically or located on the internet. These work stations are a convenient place for note taking, children’s homework and home office use.

Now what room is not complete today without a television? Yes, televisions are on most
kitchen design surveys and many families want to see them included in the final plan. While placing a television in the kitchen is not completely new the difference between placing a portable unit on the counter with cords and cables dangling and having an under-cabinet unit with a flip-down flat panel screen is vast. These built-in televisions often have other media or internet capabilities. When working in the kitchen cooks can by companioned by the news, soap operas and of course the Food Network.

Mark of Excellence Remodeling has been Appreciating Homes Since 1987. The New Jersey design + build remodeling firm has been honored with several awards for its projects and business acumen. The company has been featured in various national publications throughout the years.

One of Neil Parsons’ kitchen designs, currently being built in Monmouth County, incorporates four of the five features listed above. The addition and kitchen area has been referenced to as the “Gathering Room” from the onset of the design and development. If you would like pictures sent as the project progresses and completes send your request to or visit the website

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