The kitchen as a living space
As an interior designer at ION, Elke Deceuninck assists the buyers of our residential projects with decorating their house or flat. Elke believes that the kitchen is of vital importance, as it is becoming the space where people spend most time together.
Why is the kitchen gaining in importance in interior design?
Elke: “It is the result of a long historical evolution. Long ago, well-to-do families used to have staff who cooked for them. Back then, the kitchen was located as far as possible from the drawing room, often in the basement. The kitchen remained a separate room in most homes for a very long time. It has been integrated into our living space only relatively recently. In the past, kitchens primarily served a practical purpose, now a social factor has been added to this. It is the place where people begin their day and where they come home. A central room in the home, where family members chat, do homework, read … and cook. That is the definition of a living kitchen.”
In a flat, the kitchen and the living room often form a single space. What is the best design for such a space?
Elke: “It strongly depends on the buyer’s preferences. Roughly speaking, we can distinguish two kinds of people. On the one hand, there is a group of people who are very punctual and want to keep their home as tidy as possible. On the other hand, there are people who do not mind guests keeping their shoes on when entering, a laundry basket on the table, etc. They do not want to hide the fact that their home is lived in. When decorating a flat for people of the first type, we often provide solutions such as half-height walls or cupboard doors that conceal the kitchen as much as possible, as they prefer not to see their dishes or kitchen appliances when they are in the living room. Buyers of the second type do not ask for such solutions, as they consider the kitchen an integral part of their living space.
What are the most popular materials and colours?
Elke: “The current trend in kitchen design is sleek design and sober colours. We usually opt for black or white. Composite worktops are becoming very popular, as are maintenance-friendly ceramic tiles. Wood decors continue to be a trend as well. Especially young people are fond of colours such as mint green or pink in combination with terrazzo, but in practice most people stick to more traditional colours and materials.”
What is your advice for the layout of a living kitchen?
Elke: “It all depends on your personal taste, of course, but I have noticed that most people opt for a kitchen island if they have sufficient space. This once again illustrates the importance of the kitchen as a meeting place. If you are invited to a home that has a kitchen island, you will usually have an aperitif in the kitchen. Having a drink while standing creates a relaxed atmosphere. Ten years ago, people often requested an extension to their island with bar stools, but I’ve seen a decrease lately. A kitchen island is no longer for sitting at.”
“As far as the layout is concerned, I always advise not to include the stove in the island, but install it against a wall. There are extractor hoods you can integrate into the worktop, but such devices work best if they hang above the stove. In addition, studies have shown that you only spend a quarter of your time behind the stove when cooking. To interact with your guests or family members as much as possible, it is best to install your sink on the kitchen island and not your stove.”