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HomeHomes
Published: Thursday, 3/8/2007

Design with Your Region in Mind

(ARA) - If people in different areas of the country can dress differently, eat differently and talk differently, wouldn't they also design their kitchens differently, too?

While there are many kitchen trends that hold true from coast to coast, kitchen designers say true regional differences do exist in kitchen design, if you know where to look.

"There are certain things that hold true everywhere. In general, kitchens are more often treated like the hub of the family home, and are designed as such, with more expensive furniture-like cabinets, larger and more open floor plans, more windows and display cabinets, and better use of lighting," says Cathy Hitz, marketing manager for Decora Cabinets, a maker of semi-custom cabinetry sold through 1,000 dealers nationwide. "But once you get past those similarities, regional looks can vary a lot," she adds.

Western Kitchens: Trendy and Unique

According to Kathleen Tish, kitchen designer for Kitchen & Bath Solutions in Fountain Valley, Calif., West Coast customers are more likely to try whatever's bold and new.

"My customers are often attracted to trying the newest materials and trendy colors, even in more permanent, pricier items like cabinets. For instance, I designed a showroom vignette recently with vibrant, 'green martini' colored solid surface countertops and very modern cabinets that feature a nearly black teaberry finish over oak, which made it look like an exotic wood. I designed it that way to brighten up a perpetually dark corner in the back of our showroom. Since we've put it in I've been amazed. People walk to the back to see it first, and we've designed several kitchens now with that same cabinet color/finish combination," Tish says.

In hotter portions of the desert West, kitchen designs are often dominated by cool tile flooring and cathedral ceilings. While modern looks are growing in popularity, the earthy look of Tuscan kitchen design, with its cool neutrals and tumbled marbles, is also a big seller in the Western States, Tish says.

Midwestern Kitchens: Sensible and Beautiful

Practicality and informality rule the day for Midwestern Kitchens, according to Jill Ross, kitchen designer for Drexel Interiors, in Oak Creek, Wis.

"Midwestern customers want to create a 'come on over and bring a dish' atmosphere in their homes. Finishes are touchable, spaces are open, gracious and unpretentious. And the emphasis on the traditional dominates. I often find myself designing kitchens in new homes that customers have built to look like a 100-year-old authentic farmhouse, or in older homes where they want to preserve its period design," Ross says.

Ross stresses that customers in the Midwest tend to put the emphasis on their island or socializing space, creating a more informal look. Cabinets are less likely to sport exotic colors or finishes, with adventures in color usually reserved for the walls or decorative items. Kitchens often feature a lakeside living, or "cottage style" look, even when the houses aren't by lakes or cottages, Ross says.

Southern Kitchens: Entertaining Elegance

Southern kitchens also put their emphasis on gathering spaces, which are most likely to be a table or island. But where they differ from Midwestern kitchens is in formality.

"Southern clientele are more likely to make their kitchens into entertaining showplaces it all goes back to the idea of Southern grace and hospitality," says Bonnie Settle, kitchen designer for Cornerstone Design, in Atlanta, Ga. "You'll see more showy items -- darker woods with more glazes, more mouldings, more intense wall colors and more shiny or gilded accents. And the table is always impeccably dressed," Settle says.

Eastern Kitchens: Timeless and Tasteful

While modern kitchens are often the choice for upscale city loft dwellers, traditional kitchens still dominate in the East, but with a decidedly different look, according to Glen Lumia, kitchen designer for Creative Design & Construction in Northvale, NJ.

"Customers in the east love to use accent color in their cabinets, especially the combination of white or cream cabinets, and with an island with black, red, or even deep cherry cabinets. When they are going for the all-wood look in cabinets, most customers are still using lighter woods with light glazes," he says.

Lumia also notes that Eastern customers love the look of beadboard, wainscoting, and columns, to give the kitchen a timeless feel. "Kitchens in the East also tend to put their emphasis on the kitchen hood or hearth, where all the cooking takes place, as opposed to the island. Wood floors, and stone tiles in very traditional patterns are big for flooring, too," Lumia adds.

Mary Jo Peterson, kitchen designer and writer for Kitchen and Bath Design News, an industry kitchen design trade publication, notes that kitchen design trends are "like politics trends tend to start on the coasts and spread to the center of the country."

But what matters most about designing your kitchen is fitting it to your lifestyle, not what your neighbor may be doing.

"Regional trends happen because people in the same area tend to have the same values and lifestyle, and that's reflected in their homes. Design a kitchen that's a reflection of you, and you'll never regret your decision," Peterson adds. Courtesy of ARA Content



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