Kitchen remodel must-haves offer both style and practicality

by Jacqueline Mitchell 

Remodeling the kitchen involves striking a balance between function and design to create both an optimal cooking space and a beautiful setting to gather and entertain. Some of the latest, most-coveted updates, such as quartz countertops, drawer cabinets and beverage stations, fulfill both of those needs with their functionality and style. Local design companies gave recommendations on their kitchen remodel must-haves, whether homeowners are hoping to add value to their property with a few updates or are planning a full kitchen renovation. 

The first step to remodeling a kitchen is having a comprehensive plan before getting to work, said Jordyn Ellis, marketing manager at Architectural Justice Design Center in Medina. 

“The best advice we can give is to have full, 3-D renderings of the kitchen plan before starting any work, so you are confident with the space planning and all the material selections,” said Ellis. 

Bill Staycheff, president and owner of Freedom Design Kitchen & Bath, with locations in Hudson and North Royalton, said the biggest trend he’s seen in kitchen remodels is installing cabinets with drawers, rather than doors. 

“Drawers, drawers, drawers is the way to go,” he said. “I’m doing kitchens where everything is drawers; combinations of twos, threes and fours. It’s just more convenient. If you open up two doors, why go through all that hassle? Because one door’s going to hit the range, or one door’s going to hit the refrigerator, or something like that. You just pull out a drawer and everything’s right there. Everything is full extension and soft close, so it just makes it so much easier and more convenient.” 

Cabinets with two-drawer bases are especially popular, he said, as they provide deep storage for extra-large pots and pans. 

As far as cabinet finishes, Staycheff said paints are still quite popular, with greens, blues and off-whites topping the list. 

Ellis said Architectural Justice’s clients are looking for ways to mix materials, especially by adding metal accents to cabinetry. She said white kitchens remain the most-requested color scheme, with some customers opting for black cabinetry to contrast with white countertops. 

“Marble countertops and other materials such as porcelain that have a marble look are popular for countertops,” Ellis said.

Staycheff said quartz is another popular countertop material with staying power. 

“Quartz countertops are still super popular, and are going to be, I think, forever,” he said. “It’s one of the best products on the market. Nothing really hurts them. They’re not porous, so they don’t stain. They’re antimicrobial, so no bacteria is growing on them. Just easy, easy cleanup. And the color gets you into that marble look, the white look. … The white-on-white look is very popular, and that’s really quartz’s claim to fame.” 

Ellis said another way to get the white-on-white look is with white oak cabinetry, “a growing trend that looks stunning when topped with white marble countertops and pairs beautifully with matte black or brushed brass accents.” 

Beverage centers, whether for wine or coffee, are also popular, said Staycheff and Ellis. 

“Sub-Zero offers a great collection of wine storage units and under-counter refrigeration,” Ellis said. “Wolf even has a built-in coffee system that allows you to have cafe-quality drinks at home.” 

Staycheff said that in larger kitchens, he likes to design a specific spot for a coffee bar that is out of the way of other countertop workspace. 

“You can have your coffee makers on the countertop, which is not necessarily right in the middle of where you’re food prepping, but on a separate back wall,” he said. 

Smaller additions to the kitchen that pack a powerful functional punch include built-in microwave drawer cabinets, which Staycheff said are usually installed in an island, and double wastebaskets with an electric auto-open feature, “so you don’t have to touch anything when your hands are dirty,” he said. “I put those in every single kitchen.”

If homeowners are looking to add value to their property, Ellis said replacing the countertops is a great way to start. 

“Replacing countertops is an easy way to update the kitchen and increase the value of your home without renovating the entire kitchen,” she said. 

Staycheff emphasized the importance of coordinating all finishes to ensure that kitchen elements work together as a whole. 

“You have to coordinate your flooring with your countertops and just get a good, updated color palette all the way through,” he said. “A great tile backsplash is super important. Appliances, as much as you can afford, speak a lot for the look or value of the kitchen.” 

He added that any accessories that make life a bit easier, such as under-cabinet lighting, should be prioritized. 

“I think that should always be done in a kitchen remodel,” he said.