Syndicated — The kitchen is no longer just the kitchen. In addition to whipping up a plate of pasta, or reaching into the fridge for a cold drink, it is now the central hub of the modern home where multiple functions take place, further enhancing its place as the heart and soul of a home.
That's why the latest kitchen design trends reflect this lifestyle by incorporating new features that enhance this expanded use, according to a study from the American Institute of Architects (AIA.)
Some of those new uses for the kitchen reflect our new technology-driven world, said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. "The last few years have seen kitchens take on new functions."
Computer area and recharging stations
As home sizes decrease - and according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) they are - the space once dedicated to offices and dens are being incorporated into the kitchen. According to the AIA's March survey, 43 percent of architects polled saw an increase in demands for computer areas in the kitchen.
78 Rockrose, Aliso Viejo CA (above)
For sale: $819,900
Move over, coffee maker. More kitchens are being designed to incorporate computers and gadgets, as seen in this home for sale in Aliso Viejo, CA.
Integration with family space
The other big change for home design? Out with the separate dining rooms and living rooms and in with eat-in kitchens flowing into a great room. More architects are reporting that homeowners are requesting open floor plans.
128 245th Pl SE, Sammamish WA (above)
For sale: $699,950
This Sammamish home for sale features an open floor plan with an eat-in kitchen.
One of the easiest ways to go green in the home is by incorporating renewable or recycled materials in renovations or home building. This trend is picking up and more homeowners are requesting eco-friendly flooring materials. Bamboo, one of the more common renewable flooring options, is actually a grass and grows quickly, allowing a harvest every five years.
3206 Regal Pl., Saint Louis MO (above)
For sale: $105,000
Sturdy and water resistant, bamboo is popular in kitchens, as seen in this St. Louis home for sale.
Another big trend reflects the needs of Baby Boomers and an aging population. As a recent NAHB survey revealed, 90 percent of households say they want to age in place. This means that new homes and remodels are often focused on making that a possibility with an increase in wider doorways, touchless faucets and countertops that can be raised or lowered.
2248 Forestglade Dr., Stone Mountain GA (above)
For sale: $334,500
A touchless faucet is an easily installed home gadget to increase a home's universal access, as shown in this Stone Mountain home.
With more consumers seeking ways to reduce, reuse and recycle, the going-green trend means more homes that boast recycling centers built into kitchen designs. Cabinets and kitchen islands hide bins to sort and recycle glass, paper and plastic as well as the trash container.