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Everything AND the Kitchen Sink

Our homes are now smart, and we willingly share our lives with Alexa, Siri and Google assistant.

In our cars, Bluetooth and back up cameras are commonplace, and we’re now clamoring for blind spot monitoring, collision warning and rear cross- traffic alerts.

Yes, we love our bells and whistles! So why wouldn’t you expect to have them in your new dream kitchen? Here, some of our designers share their favorite “must haves” for the luxury kitchen.

If you thought all our suggestions would be high-tech, you’ll be delighted at the genius of this low-tech accessory: the under-sink mat. This dimpled rubber liner can hold a gallon of water! Yes, it obviously will protect your cabinet from a leak, but you’d be surprised at how much damage can be caused by moisture dripping off of cleaning products or buckets.

Another sink accessory is the Franke sink roller mat, which makes the old school drying rack a thing of the past. Though it can be rolled up and stored out of sight, you’ll never want to put it away. This is a multi-purpose gadget that’s not just for dishes! Drain your washed greens and veggies on it, or even rest a pot or mixing bowl while prepping or cleaning up. And it’s dishwasher safe!

And while we’re still at the sink, what about paper towels? With custom cabinetry, you’ve now got an option other than the dated under-cabinet holder or the ubiquitous on the counter dispenser. What about a custom designed drawer with an open front, a built-in dowel roller, and even extra roll storage right at your fingertips? Clever and handy.

An oldie-but-goodie is the double trash pull-out. I don’t like to design a kitchen without one. (And depending on the size and layout, I’ve been known to put two of them in the kitchen.) In addition to placing (and concealing) your trash and recycling right near your sink, you can also find configurations that includes newspaper recycling and composting. It’s conveniently attached to the cabinet door for easy clean up and prep work, and you can now get an electric drive that will automatically eject and retract it with a gentle push of your hand or knee. Great for when your hands are dirty!

What do you do with your spices? Are you stacking and stuffing them into a cabinet or using a plastic turntable? (Just how many bottles of cinnamon are in there!?) There are options galore for storing your spices so they’re both visible and accessible; wall or base cabinet spice pull-outs, door mounted spice racks and slanted spice inserts for drawers. All make quick work of retrieving your herbs and spices when you cook.

Drawer organization is one area that’s come a long way from the plastic dividers found at your local houseware store. Now there are modular divider systems that can be customized and rearranged to meet your changing needs. They provide flexible storage not just for cooking and serving (cutlery, cooking utensils, knives, large or small cooking tools and gadgets), but they can also be used to tidy up your message center and the proverbial “junk drawers”. This generation of dividers is made from thinner wood to maximize storage space. And the luxury option here is the availability of these divider systems in cherry, oak, or.....solid walnut! Prized in the fine furniture industry for its rick brown hues and beautiful grain pattern, walnut drawer inserts (or having the entire drawer made of walnut) add an unexpected sophistication to your kitchen. Every drawer will look like a jewelry box.

Photo courtesy of Rutt Handcrafted Cabinetry.

Next up? Charging stations! Are your entire family’s electronic devices always crowding your countertops in a tangle of recharging cords? Now you can add a charging station or drawer to your dream kitchen! Available in many configurations, with AC outlets and/or USB ports, they can be customized in a wall cabinet, concealed in a drawer, or even hidden within an end panel. This one will change your life!

The most vexing space in a kitchen is the dreaded corner. For years, the pole in the middle of the old lazy Susan severely restricted storage and items routinely fell off the shelves as the entire unit rotated. Today’s most popular corner solution is the “LeMans” pull-out. Installed in a blind corner cabinet, each pullout operates independently and swings completely out of the cavity. The bottom of each shelf is covered in an anti-slip material and the rims are either polished or brushed metal. Very efficient!

The next most problematic area is the pantry. A cabinet containing only adjustable shelves is a culinary black hole – an open invitation to lost, forgotten and duplicated items. Individual roll-out shelves and wooden pull-out units attached to the door have been the gold standard of pantry storage for years. The cabinet contents pull all the way out and everything is visible from both sides. But the newest entry in the pantry pullout game is the “Lavido” pantry. This stunner is a polished chrome adjustable rack system with glass shelf sides. The attachment of the shelves is in the rear of the rack so there’s no obstruction between shelves, and no glides on the side to reduce the width of your shelves. The unit operates smoothly, even fully loaded. Plus, you have the option of a motorized unit –  your entire pantry can travel toward you with a light push, then retract back into place with another nudge.

Photo courtesy of Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry.

Our next kitchen must-have is undercabinet lighting. Once you have it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Admittedly, this is not a new concept. I was adding under-cabinet lighting when I first started in the business 23 years ago but much has changed in that time. First there were fluorescents with their unflattering yellow light and annoying buzz. Then puck lights were all the rage, with better color rendition, but very hot. (I once had a customer whose baking chocolate melted inside her cabinet!) Xenon fixtures were the next evolution, certainly a big improvement. But now, we have LEDs! The up-front cost is higher (but coming down), but if you’re planning your dream kitchen it’s the only way to go. They are very low profile and are available in different color temperatures to compliment your color palette and meet the lighting challenges of your space. They use very little energy, produce no ambient heat, and they last forever, so they more than make up for their greater initial investment. And if you really want to splurge, wait to you see the options for LED lighting inside your cutlery drawers and wall cabinets! So don’t skip this accessory – you’ll never regret adding it.

If you’re looking to add bells and whistles to your appliance list, what about a built-in coffee maker? If you frequent a specialty coffee shop for your latte/cappuccino/expresso fix, wouldn’t you love the luxury of being able to make these specialty drinks at home? Manufacturers such as Miele, Bosch and Wolf offer many options that do everything from grinding the beans to making the foam, all accomplished with easy-to-use menus. It’ll be the hit of your next dinner party!

Our next accessories are not so much organizational as they are decorative. It’s like adding that fabulous scarf or necklace to your little black dress.

The kitchen planning process starts with detailing the empty space. With so many homeowners sacrificing their formal dining rooms for an open plan kitchen/family/dining room, these areas are often lacking architectural interest. Consider adding a coffered ceiling. This traditional grid of ceiling beams contributes elegance, character, and dimension to your new gathering place.

One of the most important finishing touches for a kitchen is the countertop. Do you long for a spectacular surface that no granite, marble or quartz can rival? Then you’ll love Pyrolave! The core of this one-of-a-kind material is hand quarried lava stone from the Natural Park of the Auvergne Volcanos in France. It’s then enameled with lustrous color – even metallics – that have amazing depth and individuality. It’s durable, non-porous and resistant to fluctuations in temperature. Yes, its most definitely a luxury item, but it’s not something you’re likely to see in anyone else’s kitchen!

What’s the final accessory to complete your perfect outfit? The jewelry, of course! And in your kitchen, that would be the decorative hardware – the knobs and pulls. In case you haven’t noticed while perusing Pinterest, brass is back, this time in soft brushed or burnished finishes. (Yes, you can use brass with your stainless-steel appliances and you can look for examples on the Bilotta website, as well as on Pinterest and Houzz) While there are many inexpensive options available online, why not invest in hardware that’s made to last a lifetime? For example, Horton Brasses Inc creates their dyes from antique hardware, scaled for kitchen use. They’re cast in solid brass in England, then hand finished in the United States. The perfect accent!

Photo courtesy of Armac Martin.

So, enjoy exploring your options for the luxury kitchen of your dreams. It’s the bells and whistles that make it fun!

These "bells and whistle" suggestions were contributed by the following Bilotta designers: Peter Bittner, Jeff Eakley, RitaLuisa Garces, Fabrice Garson, Paula Greer, Randy O'Kane, and Aston Smith.

This post was written by senior designer, Paulette Gambacorta. Paulette has been designing kitchens with Bilotta for over 22 years.

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