Contemporary kitchens incorporate simple and sleek designs with the aim of amalgamating functionality, style and colour

Clean and simple seems to be the mantra of the contemporary kitchen. High functionality and streamlined surfaces are important features, yet the design often incorporates traditional ideas. Pristine white or single coloured cabinetry with clean lines are popular; texture and warmth are incorporated by way of interesting tiles or dark hardwood flooring. Contemporary designs are very linear, often with a majority of the cabinetry on one wall, and geometrical with straight lines and rectangular shapes. The kitchen is accented using various finishes and colours with modern tables and chairs to add a place to dine.
Vaishali Lahoti Shah, chief designer, Cuisine Regale (a Godrej venture) says that the kitchen is the heart of a family and also a centrepiece of their home. “Kitchens have evolved drastically and are no longer just functional spaces. Some of the trending looks blend sophisticated colour selection with high-quality materials.” In case of counter tops, quartz offers a high-end alternative to granite, and integrated sinks with countertop is the latest trend.
Whether a client requires a huge open kitchen with all the trimmings or a combination living and kitchen area in an apartment space, there are enough modern designs to suit every need. Shami Goregaoker, design director, GA Design (Architecture & Interior Design) observes that kitchens have undergone a huge change in terms of layout, requirements and design. Contemporary kitchens combine functionality, style and colour. With more people engaging in this area during parties and entertainment, an open plan kitchen seems to be increasingly attractive as it allows for uninterrupted communication. “Island counters are a big hit within open kitchen layouts with innovative counter-top surfaces,” reveals Jürgen Wolf, managing director, Häfele South Asia.
Modular kitchens are a popular choice, as they provide sleek alternatives in design and material in a very short time. Besides a wide range of hardware options that these kitchens offer, they can be installed with minimum disruption and mess.
Rakesh Kaul, president & chief, Consumer Products Division, HSIL, says, “With changing times and an evolving consumer mindset, the outlook of contemporary home seekers is shifting. Home owners have also started to focus on kitchens and bathrooms. The idea of a contemporary kitchen has become more appealing to the consumers because these kitchens have the advantage of space optimisation and convenience, which has led to a surge in demand for built-in products like ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, etc.” New-age modular kitchens are functional and easy to install, clean and maintain. Apart from tech-enabled kitchen appliances, consumers are also opting for effective storage cabinetry, kitchen islands, as well as dual bowl sinks for rinsing and cleaning.

storage solutions
Contemporary kitchens are streamlined spaces, where matt or glossy surfaces and metallic accents work together to create a look that is sleek, and where everything has its place thanks to clever storage solutions. “Within the kitchen itself, the trend is now moving towards having closed and open storage areas with aesthetically designed cabinets for closed storage and elegant shelving systems for open storage. The baseline of planning storage areas is effective utilisation of available space. Vertical space in kitchens has to be exploited to store bulky groceries – and here, tall larder units are your best bet,” insists Wolf, adding that with the right kind of accessories, monthly groceries for a family of six can easily be stored in a compact 2ft x 2ft unit. This thought is echoed by Kaul, too, who highlights the ‘premiumness’ of space for apartment dwellers and urban consumers. “It has become a necessity to create space-efficient kitchens. The new modular kitchens offer convenient storage options, with aesthetically tucked-away shelves and pull-out drawers.”

While new technology may have created time-saving gadgets, finding place for them to adhere to the clean, uncluttered look becomes imperative. Enter built-in appliances such as under-counter dishwashers, washing machines, freezers and the like. Goregaoker says, “Even free-standing appliances like mixers, juicers and fryers have a specific place where they can be put away when not in use. Rolling shutters are gaining immense popularity in contemporary kitchens, and these are used specifically for free-standing gadgets and other kitchen accessories which can be easily stored away.”Apart from tech-enabled kitchen appliances, consumers are also opting for effective storage cabinetry, kitchen islands, dual bowl sinks for rinsing and cleaning.

Kitchen lighting
Apart from general illumination in the kitchen, each zone should have specific task lights for the cooking zone, the sink, the storage and the preparation area. Contemporary kitchen lighting involves a lot of indirect light, which can be seen in the form of cove lighting in the ceiling or task lighting underneath kitchen cabinets. Goregaoker states, “Kitchen lighting is a very vital aspect of kitchen design and has to be factored in at the planning stage itself. It is important to create a well-planned lighting scheme for your kitchen that sets the mood for cooking and entertaining. Clever lighting can make your kitchen look spectacular.”
A good lighting system in today’s kitchen needs at least two elements: bright, shadow-free task lighting for safe cooking and preparation; and atmospheric illumination to highlight architectural features. Wolf says, “General lighting in kitchens creates an ambience, while functional or task lighting within and around cabinets provides convenience. Decorative lighting at the plinth area and on the dado surfaces adds to the overall aesthetic appeal, especially when the kitchen is integrated into the living room.”
Shah elucidates a few lighting styles to add more depth to the entire look and feel of the kitchen. “For wider mood lighting, it should be controlled separately so that you can create different moods at the flick of a switch. To achieve the right ambience in relaxing zones, wall lights and ‘washers’ will add ultra fine background illumination.”
Under-cupboard spots fitted directly above the sink and chopping board for focused task lighting will add a modern touch. Also, spotlights are a great kitchen lighting idea. The advantage of accent lighting, besides looking good, is to guide the eye to points of interest around the room. Lights built into the kickboards or countertops or a run of units give a gentle glow across the floor. It also creates the appearance of levitating cabinetry. Another interesting feature of contemporary kitchens is a run of LED lights under the rim of a kitchen island top to create a “happy” mood especially if there are tall bar stools. Many LED strips available today are flexible, so they can follow the lines of cabinetry as well.
A series of beautiful pendant lights or a fabulous single lampshade above the cooking or dining space will help differentiate space. “To add more flexibility, one can try fitting pendants or cluster lights with a dimmer switch – so the countertop can function as a bright area for working, or a place to gather with friends, with softer low-level lighting,” adds Shah. Essentially, there should be focused lighting over the cooking surface, at the sink, over the counters, and over any table or work surface.
Apart from artificial illumination, a kitchen would also benefit from natural light. “A contemporary kitchen should not just be space efficient, but energy efficient as well,” says Kaul. “While designing a kitchen, one must always keep in mind the pouring in of natural light. Many consumers are now opting for large windows – which not only make the kitchen well-lit, but also make the room look bigger.”
A well-lit kitchen is dependent on a number of lighting sources such as ambient or overall, task, accent or decorative and natural. A combination of a variety of independently controlled lighting creates warmth and ambience in the kitchen. The kitchen’s size, layout and look help determine the number and placement of fixtures. Skylights can also be used to make the room look bright and cheerful while creating an airy ambience.

References for remodelling
A kitchen remodel can span from one month to one year, depending on the size and scope of the project. While a major remodel may involve plumbing, electrical and/or structural changes, a quick-fix could involve a change of shutters and handles. “Most evolutions of existing systems are coming with compatible designs. A normal soft-close drawer could be converted into a push-to-open drawer by buying basic add-ons. And a kitchen with handles could easily be upgraded to a handle-less kitchen,” advises Wolf.
Refurbishing cabinets, countertops and lighting plays a significant role in remodelling of the kitchen space, according to Shah. “The colour theme of the floors and the walls and storage space uplift the entire aura of the kitchen, solving all major issues,” she points out.
Old dado tiles can be replaced with new tiles or glass for a seamless look. Changing the lighting scheme can add character to your kitchen, and using stylish display accessories can make your kitchen look spectacular. Goregaoker is of the opinion that an existing traditional kitchen can be re-modelled to look contemporary by making more provision for storage and adding rich cabinet finishes.
However, doing a little bit of homework will serve you well before embarking on a kitchen refurbishment project, he adds. “Before starting your remodelling project, always undertake a market survey to check if all your kitchen requirements fall within your budget. Once you have set your budget, then move on to putting your thoughts into a plan.
“First and foremost, carefully consider the layout, including where to place large appliances. Secondly, the focus should be on storage – as kitchens usually have a host of small and big utensils, gadgets, etc. In the end, focus on the design itself as it should reflect your personality. The ultimate goal to is to create a functional yet beautiful space that can withstand the daily grind and meet all requirements.”
Contemporary design is truly good design that is relevant. An ingenious combination of colours, materials and sophisticated surfaces that suit the requirement of the user is the hallmark of a well-designed kitchen.

The Glocal touch

Industry experts offer clues to creating a kitchen that’s suited to the Indian style of cooking

Does an Indian kitchen need to be designed differently as per our cooking requirements?
Vaishali Lahoti Shah: An Indian kitchen is a place for cooking as well as partaking of meals. Plus, there is demand for storage of utensils and groceries. Therefore, there’s always the need for easy-to-maintain, organised storage space.
Shami Goregaoker: Kitchen layouts and design depend on the functionality and requirement of the user. Indian kitchens are believed to be different as some kitchens are used for larger families and, hence, require more counter space and storage. Also, traditional Indian cooking involves a lot of spices and oil/ghee, making it important to use materials which do not stain.
Rakesh Kaul: The way we cook is very different from where the concept of contemporary kitchens originated (the West), hence slight modifications need to be made. For instance, modern Indian kitchens need efficient chimneys to remove strong smells. In the case of hobs, there has been a drastic shift from Italian designs to the Indian cooking-friendly brass burner designs – because the former have a slower flame, while Indian cooking is done on a high flame.
Jürgen Wolf: While Indian kitchens are getting more inspired by Western trends with each passing day, there are still some factors that distinguish our designs from the rest of the world. Large pantry units, spacious drawers (for bulk groceries) and overhead cabinets (for vessels and crockery) essentially characterise the storage areas of Indian kitchens. Moreover, Indian cooking output is much larger than that of European counterparts. Here, the right kind of cooking appliances and efficient waste management systems (that can organise and manage wet and dry waste) have to be considered.

Are there any must-haves in terms of gadgets/equipment? How does one prepare for these additions?
Shah: Small is big these days, and micro-living is taking
off for millennials and retirees in a big way. Owners of multi-generational homes are installing tiny, secondary kitchens for returning adult children and elderly parents. Air fryers, dishwashers, compact juicers, wine coolers, espresso machines, toaster ovens and bullet mixers are examples of essentials that don’t consume space and also add value to our everyday life.
Goregaoker: For a contemporary kitchen, it is essential to have built-in appliances to maintain a tidy and minimalist look. Cabinets designed specifically for these appliances, with concealed wiring and convenient switch points, have to be considered at the planning stage itself. Apart from this, contemporary kitchens should have adequate storage for free-standing gadgets and other kitchen accessories. Hardware is equally important and should not be ignored.
Kaul: Contemporary appliances not only enhance the look of the kitchen, but are space efficient, practical and provide maximum cooking efficiency. Advanced kitchen appliances like dishwashers, built-in ovens, built-in hobs, built-in dishwashers, etc, contribute to creating an ergonomic and a beautiful space.
Wolf: The daily activity in the kitchen can be easily compared to a workout in the gym. The person in charge of the kitchen for an average four-person household, does this for approximately two hours a day! The kitchen layout and plan should, therefore, be carefully thought-out; and aspects of ergonomics and optimized work flows should always be taken into account. For Indian kitchens, it’s important to choose appliances that can sustain the type of cooking habits that are followed here. Interior lighting plays a key role. Additional lights in cabinets, compartments and suspended ceilings can enhance and effectively supplement the light from traditional wall and ceiling light fixtures Most designers and consumers forget or even ignore waste management. It is essential for all the people involved in designing the kitchen, to emphasise on having optimal equipment to manage waste. With the new regulations of segregation, this topic becomes even more important.

What are the colour predictions for kitchens for 2018?
Shah: This is the year for dark colours – be it floors or using textures, walls, woods in your perfect kitchen. If you choose a dark floor, one needs to go with white/pastel to complement the duality of the two opposite colour themes. Grey undertones lend a timeless viable vibe to most colours along with beige. Trendy colour choices will range from natural neutrals, oak, petrol-green and charcoal to sage, and vibrant, bold colour choices like deep-blue with intense tonalities. The influence of reflections in colour is expected to have a strong stand next season.
Goregaoker: As a kitchen is an integral part of the house, it should follow the same design theme as the rest of the house. People are not afraid of using colours any more. From lime green to aqua blue and royal purple, kitchen cabinets can be finished in any colour that you want. A clever combination of materials and colours for flooring, counter top, dado and cabinetry can make your kitchen look as stylish as your house.
Kaul: The colour of every surface contributes to the overall effect, which is useful in creating a harmony. Soft and muted colour palettes such as charcoal, greys and even neutral pastels like pale blue, pale green, grey and tinted whites are becoming a preferred choice over standard white. Stainless steel has also been a popular choice among consumers for years now, as it suits nearly all existing décor. Not just sinks – but appliances like chimneys, ovens, dishwashers, etc, now come with brush steel finish to create a more aesthetically uniform kitchen.
Wolf: Overall, kitchen colour tones are leaning more towards earthy and warm shades with clean matt finishes. Glass and wooden finishes for cabinet doors are becoming popular. Grey is the new ‘white’ in kitchens – where even hardware fittings are now available is smart grey finishes to meet the design philosophy of contemporary kitchens.

Author : By Aruna Rathod

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