The Lap of Luxury

Published: August 6, 2018

It’s often said but never truer: the kitchen is the heart of the home. In today’s open-floor home designs, the kitchen takes center stage as the place where the family’s lifestyle starts. Kitchens are the most important selling point for homebuyers, according to, and homes listed with “luxury kitchens” sell faster and command a higher selling price than similar-sized homes in the same ZIP code.

Kitchens on Top
It’s no wonder then that interior designers find the greatest demand for their services in remodeling kitchens. Some 80 percent of home remodeling projects take place in the kitchen, according to the National Association of Home Builder’s Remodeling Market Index Survey. And they account for more than one-third of the total $72.2 billion spent on discretionary home improvement projects – as distinguished from replacement projects needed to upgrade the operational components of the home – based on data from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. At an estimated $24.3 billion, kitchen remodels dwarf expenditures on baths, room additions and outside attachments.

“The ultimate design statement of the home starts in the kitchen,” said Dallas-based interior designer Denise MaGaha. “With the trend toward open floor plans, the kitchen sets the stage for all the other design decisions in the home.”

The kitchen’s importance to the homeowner is second to none, and so it is of critical importance to the interior design trade as well. Here are some emerging trends focused on the three essential design elements for the modern kitchen – cabinetry, appliances and plumbing fixtures.

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Rutt’s Manhattan door design

Cabinet Choices
Cabinets represent the grounding element in the luxury kitchen, as all the other elements are mounted on them or placed within them. What’s more, they set the design style for the kitchen.

“Today, we see transitional and modern style with strong architectural references increasingly popular,” explained Jason Artus, AKBD, vice president of sales and marketing for Rutt Handcrafted Cabinetry. “European-style, frameless-constructed cabinets are growing in demand.”

Frameless cabinets allow for additional storage with wider drawers and pullouts because they do not have a face frame attached to the front of the cabinet box and no center stile coming down the middle of two cabinet doors. Frameless cabinets give a sleek, simple aesthetic that provides easier access to the items inside. Another trend Artus sees in luxury cabinet choices is more drawers instead of hinged-door cabinets.

“Additional drawers in the kitchen results in more accessible storage and organization, which is a top priority for clients to be sure that each and every kitchen item has its place,” said Artus, who explained that once those drawers or cabinets are opened, lights can turn on automatically to guide the way.

“It is also expected that today’s upscale cabinetry look as beautiful on the interior as it does on the exterior,” he added, pointing out that white oak as gaining attention within the design community for those looking for a lighter option to pair with darker exterior finishes.

Chef-Quality Appliances
While cabinetry provides the modern kitchen’s form, the appliances provide its function. And today that function is going more high tech as smart technology is added into the mix. Selecting appliance brands that serve their function in style and are ahead of the curve in innovation is key.

“Two factors in home appliances most profoundly connect with the wealthiest consumers; they want appliances that reflect a sense of style and design and that have high-tech integration,” said Chandler Mount, vice president of YouGov Affluent Perspective, a global survey among top 10 percent earners, which includes their luxury kitchen appliance preferences and purchases.

Power and performance are an appliance brand’s price of entry into the wealthy consumers’ homes. Style and design puts a brand over the top.

“Among the wealthy home owners, they want quality and beauty in the things they buy for their homes,” said Mount. “When people walk into the kitchen and see well-known luxury brands, it reflects well on the homeowner. There is cachet in that,” he adds, pointing to the results of the survey where nearly 80 percent of the wealthiest consumers ($10 million+ in net worth and household income of $350k+) agreed with the statement, “I enjoy presenting my home to others.”

When it comes to luxury kitchen appliances, the wealthiest consumers rank high when it comes to their purchase intent in the coming year. Further, they were much more likely than the lower-income affluents (HHI $150k to $349k) to have made a luxury home design and furnishings purchase of more than $6,000 in the past year.

“The wealthy are continuing to furnish their homes with high-quality, high-priced products,” added Mount.

The Campo Collection by ROHL

Luxury Plumbing Fixtures
Perhaps the most overlooked yet most critical function of the kitchen is the faucet and sink, which ROHL has redefined as the water appliance.

“The most used appliance in the kitchen is actually the faucet/sink combination,” said Greg Rohl, vice president of marketing for ROHL. “A family of four uses their water appliance 20-30 times a day. We encourage designers to think about reallocating budgets toward this most heavily used ‘appliance,’ allowing clients to spend more for better quality and more attractive solutions.”

Besides the superior engineering and performance demanded for kitchen water appliances, innovative finishes in faucets and sinks elevate the ordinary to extraordinary. Growing in popularity for the wealthy homeowner are unlacquered brass finishes that patina over time, adding an element of personalization as the look evolves. The sink gets a makeover too with the black-is-beautiful style.

“The color black is already on par to be a top design trend for 2018, and black stainless brings both the design element and functionality into the kitchen,” said Rohl, adding that a black stainless finish is easy to maintain because it is less reflective than traditional stainless steel and is less likely to show dirt, fingerprints or water spots.

“Americans have an appetite for authentically luxurious products for spaces that in the past were traditionally outfitted with mass-produced, often functionally inferior products,” explained Rohl

The Kitchen of Tomorrow, Today
Designing the kitchen of tomorrow today requires bringing many separate components provided by a variety of vendors with unique expertise together into a cohesive kitchen package that combines beauty and function, efficiency and style.

“Traditional kitchen configurations with upper and lower cabinets are being replaced by full-on kitchen islands – grounded by larger sinks, faucets and accompanying accessories,” said Rohl. “Today – and in the future – the multi-function sink/faucet combination will continue to be the mainstay of the kitchen, flanked by the culinary appliances, and installed with beautiful, architectural cabinetry that defines the kitchen’s style.”

The kitchen’s place of presence in the home is without doubt. Yet its form and function continues to evolve with technology, product and design innovations. Perhaps Christopher Peacock, a high-end cabinetry designer in Norwalk, Conn., expressed the evolution of the modern kitchen best: “It’s almost not worth calling it a kitchen anymore – it’s a living room you can cook in.”

– By Pamela Danziger, founder of Unity Marketing

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