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Kitchen Design Blends Personality and Function at Heart of Home

Apr 12, 2019

By an outdated definition, at least for home kitchens, a kitchen is a room or part of a room used for the preparation of food. By today’s use and expectations, a kitchen is a gathering place for family and friends where stories are shared and memories are made. And because the kitchen is the heart of the home, it should reflect the personality and needs of the family inside. That's the core belief behind Cindy Kelly Kitchen Design LLC.

Cut off from the rest of the house in the mid-20th century era, kitchen design was long ago rethought with the intent of once again bringing the hub of the home into the open. As a result, it’s often the hardest room in the house to agree upon when it comes to redesign or customizing a home from the ground up.

“I never design a basic kitchen (anymore),” Cindy Kelly, AKBD, owner of Cindy Kelly Kitchen Design in Beach Haven, said, adding because open-space living is here to stay, the kitchen has become everyone’s space.

As a result, kitchen design takes into consideration not just food preparation, but family and entertainment wants and needs of the client as well. From restaurant-grade appliances to bigger islands for family gatherings, today’s kitchen is as much about style as it is functionality.

For most of her clients, the starting point for any kitchen redesign or custom kitchen begins with the things that annoyed them about a past or current kitchen, such as the lack of storage, Kelly said.

“It’s how the conversation starts,” she said, noting the Lazy-Susan corner cabinet, popular in a lot of kitchens, isn’t always a must-have for her clients because of the awkwardness of the area – even though there are some new options for the tight space. “Everyone wants what they see on HGTV or online.”

Whether that’s doable depends on the budget and what is an absolute must-have for a client. Marble countertops might be on the requirement list, but a great alternative is marble-inspired quartz countertops with the same white/gray vein running through them. For some, a stand-alone pantry with enough room for food and small appliances is still a must-have, while others opt for a cabinet pantry, especially if space is tight, according to Kelly.

Other requests include beverage stations and the microwave drawer, which makes the appliance accessible to just about anyone in the family and allows a range hood to be a focal point of the design if that’s what the client wants. Moving the microwave from above the stove is also about safety, which is something Kelly incorporates into all of her designs.

“It’s things like safety handles, no trip mats, having a pickup and drop-off point for food and under-cabinet lighting,” she said, noting she never pays close attention to the triangle rule when it comes to the kitchen sink, the stove and the refrigerator. “It doesn’t always work, and sometimes it doesn’t make sense.”

Every kitchen should be customized to the client’s needs and wants, she said. Still, there are a few things Kelly doesn’t see going away, including the use of shaker-style cabinets, which is still popular with clients. Taking upper cabinets to the ceiling where there are no soffits is also a regular request, she said.

With an abundance of colors and styles in cabinets, flooring, countertops and appliances, the options for a dream kitchen are almost endless.

“There’s tile that looks like hardwood floor,” she said, noting its durability and coolness on the feet. Tile that is actual tile is also popular despite its unforgiving nature. “If you drop something (on it), you’re going to break it.”

Cindy Kelly Kitchen Design is located at 325 Ninth Street at Bay Avenue, Schooner’s Wharf in Beach Haven.

— Gina G. Scala

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