Smart kitchens: Where innovation meets functionality

Story by Tammy Roberts photography by Rob Downey

In most American homes, there is one room that serves as the central hub for the household. Not only is the kitchen a place to cook, it’s also a place to dine, to socialize and to come together with family and friends. Some of the best memories are made in the kitchen, so it’s important that the space is as functional as it is comfortable. And as technology progresses, there now are endless ways to ensure your kitchen meets both of these needs, while still reflecting your family’s character and design aesthetic.

Whether you’re interested in making a few minor upgrades to your kitchen or contemplating a total redesign, the Space Coast is home to a number of industry experts who are eager to help bring your “dream kitchen” to life.

CONNOISSEURS OF KITCHENS 

When Linda Tamasy first enters a client’s kitchen, she doesn’t view the space in the same way others might. A Florida state-licensed interior designer specializing in kitchen designs, Tamasy envisions each project she works on as an opportunity to incorporate new functional elements, while at the same time, highlighting the existing architecture.

“I provide what is known as residential space planning,” says Tamasy. “I work with new construction or remodels and use interior floor plans to try to attain the most efficient and creative use of space.”

Her company, Linda Tamasy Designs, Inc., works with Midwest-based manufacturer, Crystal Cabinet Works, to provide custom cabinetry in a variety of styles, colors and designs.

A recent remodel she completed inside a Lake Washington-area home featured floor-to-ceiling cherry wood cabinets with a nutmeg finish that completely transformed the previous space. Not only does the finished cabinetry look gorgeous against the granite countertops, it also maximizes the overall function of the kitchen with such features as a vertical pocket door for spices, a hide-a-way cupboard for small appliances, soft-close doors and an easy-access food pantry.

The cabinetry was even custom-cut to fit over the kitchen’s state-of-the-art Sub-Zero Integrated Refrigerator and Bosch Ecosense Fully Integrated Dishwasher. The kitchen also features a Franke “Orca” Single-Bowl Stainless Steel Sink, which comes with a variety of integrated strainers, cutting boards and bowls that match the exact shape of the sink, as well as a GE Profile Single-Double Wall Oven that features two ovens in one.

But perhaps the most fascinating of the appliances is the addition of a GE Profile 36-inch Induction Cooktop, which is becoming a must-have product in today’s smart kitchens. When a pan is placed on the surface of the cooktop, a high-frequency coil below its surface creates a magnetic field. The heat generated through magnetic friction is transferred directly to the pan, which heats the cookware faster and more efficiently than other stoves.

AN EYE FOR REINVENTION

Riitta Ylonen, ASID, NCIDQ a state licensed interior designer and certified feng shui consultant, also has an eye for reinventing current spaces. She and her husband, Juha, who is a cabinetry maker, founded their company Finn Design, Inc. in 1994. The couple and its crew of licensed professionals offers complete interior design and custom cabinetry services, including space planning, project management, design and construction of custom cabinetry, kitchens, baths, furniture and fireplaces.

Earlier this year, the company completed a full kitchen renovation at the beachside home of Barbara and Walter Nolan.

“Riitta is sensational,” says Barbara Nolan, who grew tired of being unable to access items in the impractical setup of her former kitchen. “She has great ideas; she thinks things through and came up with some fantastic ways to make the space more user-friendly and functional for our needs.”

The Finn Design team provided the Nolans with custom bamboo cabinetry with a horizontal grain, stained in a medium brown. The easy-accessible cabinets feature many deep drawers and pull-outs that free up space along the Typhoon Bordeaux granite countertops. The backsplash is staggered glass mosaic in a variety of colors that complement the granite.

Other new features include a single-bowl under-mount granite composite sink and water-filtering system, a Samsung French Door Refrigerator, a GE Profile Advantium Convection Oven/Microwave, induction cooktop and stainless-steel hood.

Eco-friendly LED recessed lights were also added to brighten the kitchen, as well as under-cabinet accent and task-lighting, provided by Xenon fixtures.

DESIGNED FROM SCRATCH

With nearly 15 years in the industry, the team at Christopher Burton Luxury Homes knows a thing or two about custom design.

The company, which serves all of Central Florida, is one of just a handful of custom home-builders in the area, says Tom Davis, director of business development and residential design.

“We literally try to design every home from scratch and almost never build the same home twice,” he says. In order to do this, the company prides itself on keeping up with the latest technologies and trends in their designs, especially when it comes to kitchens.

The company’s newest model home in Charolais Estates in Viera features an open kitchen with a granite bar, ivory-finished cabinetry and a glass-tiled backsplash. Most of its Energy Star appliances were installed below the counter to provide easier access, and the popular built-in coffee maker and espresso machine folds away when not in use.

GETTING STARTED

Some homeowners may know exactly what they want in a kitchen remodel, while others may need a little guidance in discovering their own unique styles.

At RoomScapes of Brevard, potential clients have an opportunity to see firsthand how a variety of kitchens look and operate. From the fine craftsmanship of its custom Wood-Mode and Brookhaven Cabinetry, to the latest appliances ranging from induction cooktops, pop-up stored mixers and the most intelligent dishwashers on the market, to under-counter refrigeration drawers that can be installed in any room, all are on display and functional at the company’s Rockledge showroom.

“In the past, most kitchens featured what we call the triangle – a sink, refrigerator and a stove,” says Joe Goldblatt, who co-owns RoomScapes with his wife, Susan. “What you’re seeing now in today’s kitchens is a prep area, cleanup area and a social area.”

FROM THE EXPERTS: THE TOP FIVE WAYSTO MODERNIZE YOUR KITCHEN

  1. Make a statement. New or refinished cabinetry goes a long way when changing the overall look and function of your kitchen. Also consider adding new hardware, countertops or a backsplash to your existing space.
  2. Brighten things up. Incorporate new lighting, which can improve the entire look of your room. The experts recommend LED bulbs and dimmers to create different mood lighting.
  3. Update your appliances. The newest technology, which is as smart as it is sleek, is designed to make homeowners truly enjoy their time in the kitchen.
  4. Get organized. Install pull-out drawers and dividers inside your cabinets to make them accessible for all members of your family.
  5. Color me good. Add a fresh coat of paint to your kitchen’s walls or even a unique wallpaper pattern to give the space that ultimate “wow” factor.