Hit Recipes For Kitchen and Bath Design

You might think that the spot in the home where people spend the most time would be the living room or family room. But in fact the kitchen is the most used room in the majority of homes. After that, the bath weighs in on importance to homeowners. A recent survey by the National Kitchen and Bath Association found that a staggering $220 billion was spent in 2007 on remodeling and constructing new kitchens and baths, with an average of six out of every seven kitchens being remodeled.

One in seven were completely new construction. For 2008, the association projects that 6.9 million existing kitchens will be remodeled. As for baths, the NKBA found that almost 75 percent of all baths already built were remodeled. About 25 percent were new construction, and for 2008 they estimate that 8.5 million more baths will be remodeled.

Overall, the survey found that 2007 posted gains over 2006 in remodeling projects, despite the depressed real estate markets. With those figures and statistics in mind, it would stand to reason that potential home buyers would be shopping for homes with layouts that highlight great kitchen and bath spaces. Ironically, many developers often have smaller kitchens in their open condo floor plans or baths that are relatively cramped. In some rehabs or condo conversions, the units only have efficiency kitchens.

With a few renovated former hotel buildings, there wasn't even a kitchen incorporated into the original layout. Even in some luxury buildings, the kitchens are serviceable, but designed with the theory that residents will do more dining out than actual home cooking or entertaining.

On the flip side, there are also a good number of new construction and pre-construction condos that have gourmet kitchens and lavish baths, all designed to lure buyers. One of the most highly publicized projects in Chicago right now is the Chicago Spire and kitchens in those ultra-luxury condos feature not only granite but marble and onyx with European cabinets, fixtures and both European and American appliances. And while a gourmet kitchen may not totally sell a high priced condo to everyone except hard core cooking fans and would-be chefs, it certainly can be a major selling point.

But with the downturn in the housing market and new condo sales declining, more and more homeowners are turning to remodeling projects both to satisfy themselves if they intend to live there or to entice buyers if they intend to sell. It's obviously less costly to remodel a kitchen and bath rather than buy a new home, and also a little bit of investment towards improving those two rooms can mean the difference between a sale or not or even getting your asking price or not.

Another reason many kitchens and baths are being remodeled is because of concerns about the environment. Some statistics put as many as 36 states will have to deal with limited water supplies for their residents by the year 2015. Low flush toilets and aerator faucets conserve water, while new energy efficient appliances save on electrical consumption, which is both good for the planet and the pocket book.

So what are the most popular current trends in kitchen and bath remodeling? Most of the answers to that won't surprise you. The same green trend in construction is showing up in kitchens and baths. Natural and recycled materials are gaining in popularity. Bamboo, a quick growing, easily renewable wood for flooring is being used more. Countertops and backsplashes made from ground recycled glass are an option, and quartz is a new trend that is edging traditional granite. Even wood countertops are being used more often. And always keep in mind how difficult a particular surface choice would be to maintain or keep clean.

Storage is always an issue in any house or condo, and the kitchen is no exception. Cabinets can be manufactured from recycled materials and most new designs feature handy pull out or rotating shelving, which not only maximizes space but is easier for items to be reached.