October 2013

Home Section: The Ultimate Kitchen

Author: Rebecca Edwards | Photographer: Palmetto Cabinetry

Julia Child once said, “I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.” This quote might resonate with you. I know it does with me. I was 34 when I finally remodeled my kitchen, and I’ll admit that up until then I just “nuked.” When we finally upgraded, we went to Livingoods to buy a new refrigerator, stovetop, oven and dishwasher. We also enlisted the help of Jake Gartner of Hammerhead Custom Builders to refurbish our countertops, refinish our cabinets, and install new cabinet hardware and a backsplash. Although our budget was small and our modifications moderate, it gave us big ideas for the ultimate kitchen of our future.

And those ideas just keep getting bigger. The mini-makeover (plus the discovery of my oldest daughter’s gluten intolerance) inspired me to return to school and get my health coach certification. Now I have an insatiable hunger for cookbooks, and I find kitchens fascinating. Among the feast of kitchen options, you can get as eco-friendly, as high-tech or as functional as you want. Right now, we are saving our pennies and focusing on gradually replacing the cookware, utensils, and gadgets of our bachelor/bachelorette days with higher quality products. Plus, I keep an ever-expanding folder of cool kitchen ideas. When I look through the folder, my imagination takes me to a culinary fantasyland. It is in this delicious, alternate universe that kitchen gurus like Arlene Williams of Palmetto Cabinet Studio help me complete my kitchen quest.

“One trend is designing spaces that work for multiple generations to use and having areas accessible for young children, as well as grandparents,” Williams said. “Also the introduction of some less conventional materials for cabinets, such as a high gloss cabinet, or countertops made with concrete, recycled glass or paper, granite, wood, or quartzite. There is even a company that makes custom countertops using bits and pieces that you provide such as old pieces of china or wine bottles,” she continued. “Kitchen design is all about making each home unique in a way that suits the homeowner, and the kitchen, more than any other space in the home, is truly the marriage of form and function.”

Mary-Lynn Reuter of Total Design Concepts agrees. “Everything happens in the kitchen,” Reuter said. “Historically, it’s always been this way and design-wise everything feeds off of the kitchen.” Both women believe a cohesive, efficient kitchen is not only attainable, it’s a mainstay.

Ideas to consider include concealing refrigerators and other appliances as matching cabinetry and strategically placing appliances and cabinetry, e.g. installing a microwave at waist height, drawer-style dishwashers on either side of the kitchen sink, or a warming rack near a plate rack full of oven-safe pottery. Don’t get hung up on brand names or feel like you have to stick with one product line.

Lifestyle considerations also come into play. Are you a lefty or a righty? What is your preferred cooking method—stovetop, microwave or other plug-ins? When remodeling, think about what worked before and what didn’t, and embrace a design aesthetic that blends with the rest of your home.

Another quotable Julia Child-ism is, “I think every woman should have a blowtorch.” Laurel Greif of Le Cookery in the Village at Wexford laughs at this. She recently created an entire display window using Julia Child quotes.

“I love talking with the customers and trying to solve their kitchen issues so that cooking is how it should be—fun and enjoyable,” Greif said.

Once a month I allow myself to buy one new kitchen must-have, and Greif is always there to educate me on which pot has the best heat conduction or what new kitchen trinket will make my life easier. She recently turned me on to the Cuisinart Griddler. This thing rocks. It takes up very little counter or storage space, is super easy to clean, removes fat and grease, and grills your food in minutes.

Other Greif staples include:
Vitamix: This high-performance blender can do everything but pay your taxes.
Sous Vide Immersion Circulator Cooker: This appliance takes a cooking technique used by many high-end gourmet restaurants and puts it in your own home.
Nespresso Coffee Machine: This compact coffeemaker allows you to make an endless variety of brewed drinks, from frothy fraps to classic Americano.
The Garlic Twist: This tiny and simple contraption minces garlic quicker than you can do your best Larry King “Garr-leek” impersonation.
Demeyere Cookware: This professional-grade product line will last a lifetime.
Local cookbooks: Greif’s favorites are Shrimp, Collards and Grits by Pat Branning and Beaufort Academy’s Full Moon, High Tide: Tastes and Traditions of the Lowcountry.

Also, don’t be afraid to get cooking with the latest in kitchen technology. According to Play Home Technology’s marketing director Kathy Rankin, the latest technology trend is controlling your home via smart phone or iPad. “You can turn things on or off before you even get home,” Rankin said. Other techno groovy trends include having smart lighting control. “You can organize your timers to be bright during the day and leave a little illumination at night in case you want that midnight snack,” Rankin explained. “Also, through our partnership with Gourmet Appliance, we have access to certain appliances that will work with our home network Wi-Fi systems to monitor your appliances and ensure they are always working properly.”

You can also install your iPad into the countertops and hide your television behind a panel that matches your cabinets—something Reuter does often for her clients. “People are moving toward a less formal office, and the years of having a desk in the kitchen are gone,” Reuter said. “Now, more people are opting for a flush countertop island buffet with wireless capabilities so they can eat, work and serve from a convenient location.”

The kitchen is the hub and hearth of the home. On those rare occasions when the kids are not underfoot or my guests are not amassing by the kitchen island, I recall one last Julia Child quote. “Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?”

Scotsman Nugget Icemachine,
Gaggenau Freedom Induction Cooktop
Wolf Steam Oven
Thermador Pro Grand Steam Range
Sharp Microwave Drawers

American Wood Reface: (800) 489-4324 or (843) 815-6700; woodreface.com/cabinet-refacing-hilton-head.htm
Billy Wood Appliances: 6 Marshland Road, Hilton Head; (843) 681-8441 billywoodappliance.com
Coastline Cabinetry: 374 Spanish Wells Rd, Hilton Head; (843) 342-9002
Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery: 114 Bluffton Rd, Bluffton; (843) 815-6080; ferguson.com/branch/bluffton-sc-showroom
Hammerhead Custom Builders: (843) 368-6624; hammerheadbuilders.net
Le Cookery: Village at Wexford, Hilton Head; (843) 785-7171; lecookeryusa.com
Livingoods: 63 Riverwalk Blvd, Okatie; (843) 379-5800; livingoodsonline.com
Palmetto Cabinet Studio: 29 Plantation Park, Bluffton; (843) 815-5505; palmettocabinetstudio.com
Play Home Technology: 53 Persimmon St, Bluffton; (843) 8154292; playhometech.com
Total Design Concepts: 35 Capital Drive, Suite E, Hilton Head; (843) 689-9588; totaldesignhhi.com
Ross Carpentry, INC: (843) 301-0076

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