Professional-grade cooking centers are all the rage – but do you need all of that?
Mountain House and Home
Just like a high-performance racecar needs a big engine, a big home needs a high-performance kitchen. As one of the most used and important rooms in the house, the kitchen’s capabilities are expected to match that of the rest of the home. In today’s large homes that sleep 14, you need a kitchen with plenty of room and large capacity appliances to be able to cook for that many people, says Liz Sterling, designer with Kitchens Plus in Eagle-Vail. For kitchens that are created to entertain large groups or for the household cooking enthusiast, knowing the latest and greatest in kitchen design and function is the first step to building a fabulous, dream kitchen. If you’ve been dreaming of a kitchen that would make a celebrity chef salivate, accelerate your entertaining and cooking prowess with a top-end kitchen.
What makes a kitchen high performance and which features are worth the big price tag? As Stephanie Campbell, sales manager of Alpine Appliance Center in Avon, CO says, “a high end kitchen is not meant for everyone. If you are not planning to be in your home for 20 years and do not require top-of-the-line equipment, you don’t really need it.”
In homes that cost a million dollars and up, it is expected to have a kitchen with high-end features comparable to that of the rest of the home, especially for resale, says Campbell. Laurie Huggins, a realtor with Breckenridge Associates Real Estate, says that, for resale, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the home. She says mountain homebuyers want to buy a home that does not need any work and is in pristine, up-to-date condition at move in.
The latest styling for kitchens in the mountain region usually includes one of two styles, says Sterling. She’s seeing much more formal, contemporary design with clean lines and fully integrated appliances or a more Old World, highly distressed and glazed look with crown molding. Her clients are putting more emphasis on their kitchens, she says, because “people are entertaining at home more and building their homes around entertaining.” Robin Slattery, president of Modern Kitchen Center in Glenwood Springs, CO, says most of her clients are eager to have a kitchen that is stylish and comfortable but can be high performance enough for the cooking staff.
As for choosing appliances and features, top-of-the-line appliances with brand names like Sub-zero, Wolf, Viking, Miele and Dacor are built to last and designed with timeless looks in mind.
“What does your money get you (with these brands)?” says Campbell. “These products are made to last a lifetime. They will last the life of you and your home.”
High-performance appliances are best suited in larger homes where the homeowners are frequent entertainers and have chefs and caterers needing commercial-grade appliances to prepare restaurant-quality meals.
With a focus on entertaining for many upscale homes, there are many new options in appliances and kitchen technology for homeowners preparing to build their dream kitchen.
Ranges – Big, bulky 48- to 60-inch wide, dual-fuel ranges (gas on top with electric oven) with a very sturdy commercial look are the most popular in our mountain region, according to Campbell. These ranges are perfect for those that love to entertain and have large groups in their home. When caterers or a professional chef come to cook in the home, they are able to have the performance and ease of use they are used to in a commercial-grade kitchen, says Sterling. High-end ovens include hidden bake elements for easy cleaning, a meat probe in the oven and fine tuned BTU output on the range top for a consistent low simmer and high burn, says Campbell. And because high-end appliances are made to order, they will come calibrated for our high elevation environment, meaning that the temperatures and cook times will be consistent and accurate.
Cooktops – For those that prefer a cleaner, simpler look for a cooking surface, cooktops are a great option. Induction technology, which has been around for quite some time, is becoming very popular, says Eric Boylan, vice president and co-owner of Alpine Appliance Center. The cooktop creates a magnetic field, which, when used with a magnetic cook pot, will create heat. Induction heats much faster than any other fuel source and is safer because it will only work when in contact with metal and will not work if, say, a pot holder or appendage is placed on the burner. Induction heats very quickly and is great for our high-elevation environment, where heating to a boil takes longer.
Microwaves – Although most of us only use it to warm coffee or leftovers, the microwave is still a necessary appliance. Microwave drawers that double as a convection oven are the most popular, says Campbell. A microwave drawer is great in kitchens where under-the-counter space is plentiful but wall space is limited, she says.
Refrigerators – The trend now in refrigerators is large, built-in refrigeration and freezer towers. “Sub-zero now makes separate, refrigerator and freezer towers that are completely independent of one another so that they can be located in different areas of the kitchen or next to one another, whichever works best for the homeowner,” says Boylan. Further, they can be completely integrated into the cabinetry for a clean, consistent design, which has become very popular, says Boylan. Slattery says that for many clients the Sub-zero, 48-inch wide refrigerator with glass front doors is popular. She says the look of the glass front refrigerator goes great with a contemporary kitchen design.
On the opposite end of the size spectrum, smaller refrigeration drawers have become popular additions to upscale kitchens, says Sterling. These drawers are integrated into the cabinetry under the counter. They come in various combinations, such as a refrigeration drawer on top and freezer on the bottom or a freezer and icemaker. Drawers are perfect for staging drinks for a party or for use in a wet bar.
Wine storage – Having a separate wine refrigerator in the kitchen is virtually standard now. However, the latest technology allows for storage of white and red wines in the same under-the-counter wine storage unit. Sub-zero now makes a dual compartment chiller with separate temperature controls to maintain both red and white wine at optimal temperatures.
Dishwashers – Dishwashers have also gone the way of the drawer. With fully integrated dishwasher drawers, the appliance completely disappears. The traditional hinging door models are still available and can be built-in with hidden controls for a cleaner, more integrated look.
High-end dishwashers do much more than disappear into the cabinetry. Brands like Miele and Bosch have stainless steel interiors that conduct heat and are quieter, more energy efficient and more effective in cleaning than their less-expensive rivals, says Boylan. Many of the European brands even have their own internal water heaters and water softeners so they use less water and soap, says Boylan.
Countertops – Although still popular, granite is losing some of its luster, as many homeowners come to realize the maintenance involved with granite, says Sterling. More solid surface options are becoming popular. Cambria makes a quartz composite countertop that is 95 percent recycled material. It is beautiful and durable with a commercial grade rating on the sealant, which makes it maintenance free and completely sanitary, says Sterling.
For homeowners planning a high performance kitchen, Slattery recommends spending time researching. Then it’s important to hire a great team. She recommends homeowners carefully consider how the kitchen will be used and what are the desired features and special needs. Sterling says it’s important to work with a design team that takes the time to get to know you and your family. With a great team and knowledge of the latest in kitchen technology, you will have your dream kitchen revved up in no time.
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