(Family Features) Forget about the living room; the kitchen is the social hub of a home. Today's homeowners want their kitchens to reflect their personal tastes and accommodate their daily lives; however, a kitchen that can do all this is in need of one thing - smart storage.
According to renowned chef Curtis Stone, "A dream kitchen is one that's designed for the way you live. The best advice I'd give anyone looking to remodel their kitchen is to think about how they will use it, and to choose the right storage features to suit their lifestyle."
Paul Radoy, manager of design services for Merillat cabinetry, agrees, "Everyone uses the kitchen to prepare food, but many homeowners use their kitchen for entertaining, crafting, or just spending time with their families. Each of these activities requires various storage options."
Food preparation and cooking are the primary functions of a kitchen, but creating an environment for gourmet cooking is a special treat for homeowners who consider themselves "at-home chefs."
To create this environment, it's important to keep cooking items organized and within easy reach. Storage solutions could include a pull-out spice rack next to the stove, perfect for cooks who like to experiment. A cutting board kit can neatly store knives within a drawer and has a built-in cutting board. This feature, combined with a pull-out trash underneath, can make food prep a breeze.
"People who love to cook often have a lot of pots and pans, and they are usually in a jumbled mess," says Stone. "Well, Merillat has come up with an ingenious solution. Extra wide or deep drawers are great when installed under a cook top, and when you include peg dividers for the drawer it can be customized to neatly fit all your pots and pans as you like them. It's not one-size-fits-all, so it can be nicely organized."
Another option is to install a utensil hanging system on the backsplash, or a pull-down cook book holder underneath a wall cabinet. Finally, grouping all these organizational conveniences near the cook top can create the perfect space to make culinary delights.
If you've ever had a party you know everyone ends up in the kitchen. This is why homeowners who like to entertain should consider whether or not their kitchen is functional for entertaining. Luckily there are several features that can help make the party successful.
One kitchen feature that helps make entertaining easier is an island. Not only can an island provide extra seating and serving space, it can include great storage. According to Radoy, "An island with a great focal point like wine storage is classy and practical. And adding spice drawers to hold napkins or small utensils like corkscrews is another great idea."
Open shelving also adds a great design element for a kitchen used for entertaining. These shelves allow the homeowner to display beautiful dishware and glasses; and guests can help themselves to a plate for appetizers or a glass for wine.
Moms know that having young children can make the kitchen a challenging space, but there are features to make this room more kid friendly. Soft-closing drawers and doors can protect against hurt hands, while keeping the contents from rattling.
Deep drawers to store children's items like a backpack, schoolwork and crafts are a big plus. And a pantry or utility cabinet allows the homeowner to store many different items in one central location and at different levels making some things more accessible or inaccessible for children.
"Homeowners may also consider placing the microwave in a base level cabinet so everyone in the family can have easy access," suggests Radoy.
Another thing to keep in mind is that with kids come messes. Having an organized cleanup zone can minimize clutter and make any kitchen shine. Things like a tilt-out sink tray, which keeps soaps and sponges out of sight, an under sink tote and a pull-out waste basket help to keep things tidy.
"From a chef's perspective, or from a home cook's perspective," concludes Stone, "with the right organizational features, cooking can be fun and relaxing."
For more information about the latest in beautiful and intelligent cabinetry options visit www.Merillat.com.
From now until Aug. 1, 2011, visitors to www.Merillat.com can design their dream kitchen - with a chance to win it. The Works Like a Dream kitchen contest is awarding a $30,000 kitchen makeover along with $1,500 in Curtis Stone products, among other prizes.
"This is your chance to win a free kitchen and discover all kinds of fantastic Merillat function, including some of my favorite storage features," encourages Stone.