What Luxury Looks Like in the New Kitchen and Bath

Nationally known kitchen and bath designer Mary Jo Peterson runs down some of the latest trends in high-end kitchens and master bathrooms.

April 01, 2008

In a world where economies of cost, space and time are otherwise popular, our lifestyles continue to reinforce our devotion to the kitchen. We've gone from the traditional work triangle to the living triangle, including not just food preparation but also eating, family time and entertaining.

Similarly, we no longer rely on the master bathroom simply for grooming and hygiene. Today, it is the one place that must be designed for privacy, comfort and peace.

Let me offer a few design concepts that constitute "over-the-top" luxury in rooms where there seem to be no limits: the kitchen and master bathroom.

Multiplicity in the Kitchen

Whether they're islands, sinks or appliances, multiples are part of the luxury kitchen.

When space allows, the primary island is critical to the preparation of food. This island will likely have a sink, refrigerator, microwave drawer and cooktop with a simmer or grill station. It may also be higher or lower than the standard perimeter counters to accommodate different cooking styles, and it can have multiple dishwashers as well as a place to store dishes to accommodate cleanup.

The second island is often reserved for serving, entertaining and casual eating. This island often offers beverage appliances, from wine chillers to coffee machines. The design can incorporate a raised section that helps section off cooking from the rest of the space typically used for homework or a computer.

Even the smallest of luxury kitchens will probably have at least a second sink, as it creates an additional area for preparation, serving and cleanup. And with appliances, the sky is the limit, though balancing their size and number with storage and work areas may be challenging.

Having multiple kitchens is an option too. A backup or caterer's kitchen may supplement the main kitchen or provide a separate area for messy cooking. A second kitchen helps for holidays and occasions.

Master Details in the Master Bathroom

The master bathroom has taken on a new role as a sanctuary for harried homeowners. Homeowners like the spa experience, and at the heart of it lies the tub, which is deeper for soaking and may incorporate sound therapy and aromatherapy. To form a connection to the serene outdoors, use natural light. You can also have a door leading outside. Showers mimic a spa with options such as steam, sound therapy and aromatherapy. Music, television and an intercom system add to the experience. The over-the-top toilet looks very different from the past and even plays music and raises the lid as you enter the room. Upscale homes are likely to have separate his-and-her toilets.

The difference between the vanity space of the past and future is the design; expect to see more his- and-her vanities falling at different heights or positioned separately. Her vanity often blends into the dressing area, with a seat, magnifying mirror and abundant storage, as well as sophisticated lighting. His vanity area may be smaller but no less grand. He may have a second vanity sink with a fog-free mirror in the shower for shaving.

The spaces have to be luxurious, and that's executed through items such as starlight LED lighting, glass ceilings, wall murals and floor tiles made of natural materials. Water features and fireplaces set the mood. Auxiliary spaces may include a massage room, a morning kitchen, a reading/office/away space, and other things we'd all enjoy in a perfect refuge and retreat.

Mary Jo Peterson, [email protected], www.mjpdesign.com

Author Information
Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, CAPS, is principal of Mary Jo Peterson Inc., a Connecticut-based design firm. In addition to being a certified kitchen, bath, active adult and aging-in-place designer with 25 years of experience, she is also a frequent speaker and educator.

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