Tomorrow’s Kitchen Today
For years, the Kitchen has been the heart of the home. It alone was responsible for ‘opening up’ the ground floor of most new houses and driven the alteration of many existing homes to achieve the same result.
The Kitchen didn’t so much as merge with the dining room & lounge, it acquired them! A large space in which family and friends could spend time together, whilst concentrating on different activities. Someone cooked, whilst someone else worked as others watched TV; conversation now able to involve everyone without dividing walls isolating individuals or groups.
Some headlines and experts have recently suggested that the demise of open plan living is upon us; arguing that walls are needed again to facilitate more family members being at home more of the time.
The emerging reality may, however, be more nuanced: having been forced to spend more time at home during 2020, ‘family life’ has been newly appreciated by people of all ages, a survey of the UK’s under 25’s in June found that 73% of them wanted the ‘family dinner’ to continue to be a part of their lives after the lockdown. Spending time together & the family meal has been re-discovered. The kitchen has quietly, unobtrusively, been at the centre of this emerging return to the past. It all seems very ‘now’ but in fact, many have re-found the family life of their memories and the young now appreciate more about family life, being together and shared experiences with parents, siblings and relatives.
So is it more about Flexibility as opposed to the end of open plan? Flexibility to be able to temporarily create a variety of different spaces for individual activity and focus.. Then open: allowing connection through visibility and without enclosure.
During the enforced lockdowns of 2020, people across the world have spent more time at home and much more time in the space that the Kitchen acquired and dominates.
Kitchens of every size, style and equipment level are being used by new cooks, new bakers and upskilled chefs. The level to which a home-kitchen can now be equipped and the significantly increased use of kitchens by the many more enthusiasts of home cooking and family only adds to the flexibility the home now seeks to provide whilst experiencing homemade culinary delights.
The biggest innovation in the development of The Kitchen is technology. The developments and advances in technology have enabled more people to find joy, ease, time and ability to prepare, cook & share meals. People that without this innovation may perhaps have continued to believe they just ‘couldn’t’.
Appliances able to connect to our mobile devices to let us know what ingredients, items, supplies are needed have been helping to reduce food-waste since 2015/16 and are now becoming more widely available and affordable. Fridges with built in webcams allowing us to check their contents whilst at the supermarket.
WiFi enabled ovens that can be turned on remotely, combo hob/extractor units, voice activated cookers, ovens & microwaves that are able to self-adjust cooking times and temperatures to suit the meat or complete meal placed in them.
All of this technology is making it possible for people to cook from scratch with little (or no) knowledge and skill. Connected appliances enabling competent cooks to become highly skilled home-chefs.
Advancing technology is also enabling simple kitchenwares to support both novice and expert kitchen users. These SMART scales will adjust recipe quantities for the user when they make a mistake and perhaps add too much of one ingredient, they’ll provide nutritional information and connect to mobile devices.
The Kitchen is slowly becoming a family entertainment centre, a friend, a teacher, a place of education and has already become the Technology Hub of the home.
Integrated technology in the kitchen can make life easier, more enjoyable and a new home so much more appealing, desirable, aspirational and ‘buyable’. Once elements of science fiction, now becoming elements of customer expectation. And for the future of home kitchen appliances, well maybe we’ll all have a home chef ...
Not content with it’s empire inside our homes, the kitchen (funded by the Pandemic) is beginning a significant takeover of the Garden too; a trend currently in it’s early stages yes, but one that equipment & furniture manufacturers, designers and developers ignore at their peril.
The outdoor kitchen is coming of age. The uncertainty surrounding potential restrictions about family groups meeting indoors for Christmas, has meant that we are seeing people plan & prepare for an outdoor Christmas Lunch and a few of those people, are installing outdoor kitchens now. This will mean that no-one should miss out on the fun and conversation because they are indoors cooking.
Bear in mind; It has been a long time since the UK experienced a ‘White’ Christmas Day and in more recent years, Christmas Day has seen mild weather (even sunny) across the UK.
For a few people this year a full outdoor kitchen will be created and enjoyed and these kitchens (and associated dining space) can be just as stunning and highly equipped as their indoor counterparts.
The early design preference seems to be for the use of darker materials and colours, terrazzo is also proving popular for worktops, furniture and patio.
Most of us will for now be content with less complex and more affordable outdoor kitchens. These will range from hi-end BBQ’s to table-top grills, all give us the ability to cook and eat outdoors all year round. At the very least, this means that when designing homes more thought needs to be given to the type and placement of outdoor electricity points, water supply and the quality, style and finish to patio, balcony and terrace flooring areas.
Our kitchens it seems are also ready to fulfil our desire to have more control over the source and provenance of our food; combining new technology with innovations in plant and vegetable growth the trend for kitchen-farms is emerging and growing relatively quickly. Another type of appliance that may soon become an expectation of kitchens in new homes and those newly installed to existing homes. The technology allows the non-gardener to grow their own food at the same time as being educated ‘by the appliance’ in ‘How to’ ...
In respect of our ‘main’ kitchen, inside the home, the trend is also tending toward darker natural materials & colours. Carrera Marble finally making way for richer, more interesting marbles, granites and woods.
The Kitchen Island is now even more desirable and becomes larger as it assumes new uses as a charging station, food preparation area, cleaning station, work desk, a casual dining table, cocktail wine & coffee bar.
Close by should be a more formal dining area (perhaps a raised area – a stage) in which we can create fine dining experiences for family and friends.
And so there we have it ... the kitchen; no more a ‘room’ but, a complex, flexible, crucial, beautiful and much loved element of Home.