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HOME IMPROVEMENT : Consumers Want the Whole Kitchen Kaboodle

December 28, 1991| From Associated Press

Today's kitchen is busy and crowded, making renovation more desirable, according to a cross section of kitchen designers polled by the Maytag Co.

Adult children returning home to live with parents, grandparents caring for young children, and the need and wish to recycle kitchen waste are crowding the kitchens, the poll says.

Today's average kitchen measures 9 feet by 15 feet, about the same as five years ago. Not surprisingly, inconvenient layout, inadequate storage and countertop space are among the major factors leading to a decision to renovate.

Maytag polled 100 kitchen designers and found that one way consumers are coping with a busier and more crowded kitchen is by choosing appliances that cook faster.

Microwave ovens are now placed in 92.5% of the kitchens remodeled by those polled, contrasted with 79.8% five years ago, and the demand for convection ovens, which bake faster than conventional ovens, is growing.

The dishwasher, formerly an optional convenience for many consumers, now is included in almost 98% of the kitchens designed by survey respondents.

Kitchen designers say more people are asking for recycling facilities in their kitchens so items can be separated as they are used. This can be as simple as leaving space for several containers or as complicated as setting up a series of vertical chutes from countertop to basement.

Designers asked to add a spot for a quick meal often comply by building it into the kitchen's work island.

Another trend: more kitchens are being designed for two cooks (33% contrasted with 24% five years ago). Almost 70% of the clients have two adults working full time outside the home, the kitchen designers say.

Though they want all the high-tech, labor-saving appliances they can afford, most people want old-fashioned styling. Traditional and country-style cabinetry and surfacing were selected by about 60%, and modern styles were chosen by about 40%.

The kitchen designers report that 64% of their clients select white appliances, instead of the gold, green and copper colors once favored, although black appliances are also finding growing favor.

For the past four years, white has been the most frequently chosen color for major appliances, according to the Assn. of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). White trim on a white background is interpreted by the public as conveying upscale sophistication of a designer kitchen, AHAM says.

Electronic touch pads, a feature made popular by microwave ovens, are now favored on a wide variety of major appliances, such as ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers and laundry equipment. Until recently, touch pad controls were an option only on top-of-the-line models.

"Overall, appliance profiles are sleek and uncluttered, free of embellishment and overbearing graphics. Metallic trim is used sparingly and tends to be brushed instead of shiny. Edges are rounded instead of squared," according to the trade association.

The growing popularity of an open kitchen that is part of or flows into the living room is a major factor influencing the design of kitchen appliances.

"With more of the kitchen on view, consumers want their appliances to visually blend with the surroundings and to form a seamless line with the kitchen cabinetry," says AHAM.

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