Home & Design September 14, 2016

Hub of the Home

New trends for convenience and style in the kitchen

As the morning sun peeks over the mountains, bacon sizzles, coffee brews, and chatter begins. “What’s for breakfast?” rings down the hallway. Discussions abound: “Who’s coming over for dinner, again?” Plans are made to run to the store after work. Lunches are packed. The day begins. The kitchen is the pulse of the home.

We start our days and end them around mealtimes: chatting at countertops, chopping and dicing, and entertaining family and friends. It’s no wonder the urge to keep the most lived-in room in our homes current and conveniently designed is so strong.

In 2015, kitchens were the most remodeled room in homes, with 31 percent of interior projects focusing on where we cook and spend so much time, according to Houzz & Home’s survey of over 120,000 homeowners. Current trends bridged from painted wood cabinets and tech hubs to hidden appliances and steam ovens.

Whether you’re looking to give your kitchen a new look, hoping to replace some outdated appliances, or considering a complete remodel, we caught up with some
of Sun Valley’s best and brightest in the world of kitchens to bring you the latest trends
and styles.

Plug In

Jenni Conrad, a certified bathroom and kitchen designer, has owned Five Star Kitchen & Bath for 15 years. A full-service design firm, Conrad and team are a turnkey business for revamping or remodeling your space.
Over the years, she’s noticed the kitchen morph into a living room, a place to gather and sometimes plug in.

“People are coming home from work or school and gathering in the kitchen,” she said. “It’s a place to cook together as a family while the kids are at the countertop doing homework. It is a time to catch up and interact.”

Technology stations are a must for busy, plugged-in families. Think kitchen island turned technology hub with USB ports, extra electrical outlets, and bigger counter space leaving enough room for meal prep and sifting through your favorite cooking app.

“These are the catch-all tables where you need extra space, enough space for computers, iPads and phone charging stations. You can put them in one spot and charge them and you can control your cords more,” offered Conrad.


Modern kitchens are being designed to minimize the amount of “clutter”—blenders, toasters and other small appliances—on the countertops. (Photo: courtesy Fisher Appliance)

Sleek & Simple

In the way of appliances, new technology tends to reign supreme. But in the Wood River Valley, homeowners are searching for simplicity as well as the latest in functionality. Hidden appliances do the trick.

“Years ago, people didn’t mind having their countertops filled with knives and blenders. Now they want it nice and clean, but still accessible,” said Conrad. People don’t want a lot of fuss. Everything has its place.”

Interior designers are working to put the most-used appliances in custom cabinetry and hidden storage. Conrad not only designs the placing and exterior of cabinets, she works hard to provide ample space inside to store whatever the client needs, from bakeware
to china.

Hidden appliances keep smaller spaces feeling open. Homeowners are also brightening up their kitchens with painted cabinets in neutral tones like whites and greys rather than exposed wooden cabinets.

Jennifer Hoey Smith, of Jennifer Hoey Interior Design, based in Ketchum, prides herself on designing spaces that stand the test of time, but she’s still constantly keeping up with the design buzz.

“We travel across the nation and abroad to see what is trending. That is an important part of living in a small town like Ketchum. You can have the best of both: the mountain living and new industry finds.”

Smith has installed sleek drawer and cabinet systems that nixed the handles and pulley method and added a motorized hinge system that opens the space with a simple touch. Ready to close it? Another touch and it glides to a silent close. The door releases horizontally, keeping your space open and providing a contemporary European look.

Upgraded Ovens

Although colors and popular material trends come and go, some new items seem to have more staying power. The steam oven, at least in Sun Valley, is one. A healthier way to cook, steam ovens turn the water into steam and help food retain moisture better than a traditional convection oven.

“From baking to crisping the outside of the chicken, it is a standard now. We are putting steam ovens in every kitchen,” said Smith.

The new norm for kitchens, steam ovens can be used for all baking and cooking needs. For those not willing to lose the convection option just yet, a combination oven with both capabilities is a great place to start.

What’s more, steam ovens are the healthiest way to cook, allowing foods to retain the most nutrients, the perfect pairing for an active community like Sun Valley.

Small Spaces

Whether downsizing to a more manageable space or retiring to a condo, many residents are choosing to live in smaller spaces but aren’t sacrificing convenience or functionality. LeeAnn Ferris and her husband Greg, owners of Sun Valley Kitchen & Bath, have been in the design business for over 30 years. LeeAnn says the biggest change she’s noticed recently is the desire to live smaller.

Appliances, however, have finally caught up with the trend, offering smaller options, from 18-inch-wide dishwashers to narrower and taller refrigerators. “Europe has always offered these smaller options, but now that niche is coming to the U.S.,” said LeeAnn.

Her design work is no longer dictated by limited sizes of appliances, she explained. She and her team can open up smaller rooms with hidden appliances, taller cabinets, and solid, seamless countertops. But the best new trend is the micro-appliances, she says.

Wherever your style takes you, one trend that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere is the kitchen as the hub of the home.

This article appears in the Fall 2016 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.