For years, the kitchen has taken on the role of family activity hub. Not only is it where meals are made (and mostly consumed), it’s where kids do their homework and parents look over the bills, where messages are left and gossip is traded. And of course it’s where every good cocktail party winds up.
But as ‘smart’ household appliances take on a growing role in our lives, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), the kitchen may soon claim a new title: The room with the most dazzlingly advanced technology.
In 2013, the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI) released a survey of 1,000 homeowners that found many were interested in kitchen appliances that can help them cook faster, more efficiently, and involving less cleanup time. The industry has since responded to consumer interest in a big way: From an oven that takes cell phone calls (TMIO Connect Io Intelligent Oven) and a refrigerator that can tell you the when the mayonnaise expires (Samsung’s 4-Door Refrigerator with Wi-Fi Enabled LCD), the kitchen of the near future will likely look quite different from the kitchens we remember from childhood, or even young adulthood.
While you may feel overwhelmed by so many ways to connect to your appliances, remember that design experts have a singular piece of advice for a kitchen remodeling project: Never lose sight of how your live, use, and move around the kitchen.
With this in mind, the first step is to consider what is known in the industry as “the basic triangle.” The most primary of kitchen functions, the basic triangle describes the path connecting the sink, the stove and oven, and the refrigerator. Any kitchen remodeling project should begin by considering these three elements of activity.
Make sure your triangle isn’t too small or too big, and that walkways are straight and clear. As you select your appliances, remember to keep flow in mind—make sure your fridge and dishwasher doors don’t block pathways when opened.
Another very practical consideration is lighting. One current trend in kitchen redesigns is LED lighting. Bright, energy efficient, and now available in warmer tones than white or red, consumers are using LED lighting overhead, recessed, and under the kitchen cabinets.
The latest, and perhaps most useful, trend in countertops seems to be anti-bacterial. EOS Surfaces’ solid surface countertops, with Cupron technology, have cooper ions infused into the material so that 99.9 percent of bacteria are killed within two hours. Meanwhile, Silestone kitchen countertops contain silver ions which prevent bacteria growth. These high-tech countertops still have to be cleaned, of course, but they could help put your favorite germaphobe’s mind at ease.
Another modern essential in kitchen design: A charging station. According to RICKI, more than 40 percent of consumers store or charge their electronic devices in the kitchen, from ‘smart’ home devices to Amazon Echo, to smartphones and tablets taking the place of cookbooks.
Even when your appliances come with extra technology, making your kitchen a place for food, family, and friends is what really counts. Just make sure you have enough plugs for everyone!