Inspired by new technologies and the use of environmentally friendly materials, contemporary style is unquestionably at the forefront of today’s kitchen design. But does this trend imply that log home kitchens are destined to transform into futuristic rooms of metal and glass? No way! By incorporating new energy-saving, multi-functional appliances and the latest in natural and man-made materials, classic log-home kitchens are updated with fabulous furnishings without sacrificing charm and character.
Manufacturers today have created materials and appliances that meet everyone’s budgets, tastes and style. In fact, there are so many choices that the selection process can be quite daunting for a new homeowner. The key to your success is to prioritize the fundamentals based on budget, usage and personal preference.
Here are some important issues to keep in mind as you assemble the most popular room in the house.
Stay true to your desired theme by carefully choosing key components such as cabinetry to fit both your budget and style.
Old classic: Knotty pine and intricate frames
Updated classic: Knotty cherry, distressed finishes, frameless and natural-non-toxic stains
Select cabinetry made from woods with inherent natural character, such as alder, cherry and hickory. "Knotty cherry used to be considered the leftover scrap wood," says Helge Selijaas, owner of Arendal Kitchen Design in Salt Lake City. "Now there’s a growing demand for it due to its beauty and because it’s much harder than woods such as alder." Other options include having the manufacturer create a distressed appearance or an antiqued styled glaze on a popular wood like maple or pine.
"I see a clear trend toward more contemporary frameless cabinets," says Ivan Nagode, owner of Ivan’s House of Kitchen and Baths in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. "My clients are not necessarily seeking a modern look &mdash rather, they like the overall cleaner appearance. Frameless cabinets made from character filled woods with rich stains would look great in most log homes today."
Carmen Mateo, owner of Brand Kitchens & Design in San Francisco, recommends that people should seek out manufacturers that utilize a low VOC (volatile organic compound) finish. VOCs are facing strict regulation by the federal government as well as many state governments due to the fact that VOCs decrease the amount of ozone in the lower and upper atmosphere.
Energy efficiency, ease of use and striking appearances are at the top of the list for designers and homeowners.
Old classic: Traditional dual sided refrigerator/freezers, standard electric wall ovens, and dishwashers
Updated classic: Drawers (refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave), under-mount freezers, dual convection, induction, brightly colored enameled stoves and oiled bronze finishes
Appliance manufacturers are meeting the demand for classic and antique looks with vivid enamel colors accented with exquisite detailing. Copper and bronze finishes, for example, add a warm feel to stainless steel.
Dual convection ovens have revolutionized how we cook. Instead of just one interior fan, companies including Wolf, Fisher Paykel and Jenn-Air have designed ovens with two fans for more uniform cooking done in nearly half the time.
Induction cooking is another fast-growing trend. Induction burners use almost 50 percent less energy than standard cook tops. Because they use electromagnetic energy to create heat, the burners are always cool to the touch making it safe for small children and the cook. Induction also heats faster than gas ranges, making it a great alternative to both electric and gas.
Large ranges require larger ventilation hoods.
Old classic: Hide the hood
Updated classic: Focal points made to enhance your kitchen
As the kitchen increases in size, so do the appliances. Large pro-style ranges require more ventilation in addition to a specially-constructed cement base due to their heavy weight.
"We’re seeing a clear trend toward making the hood a focal point of the kitchen," says Liz McCarthy, editorial services coordinator of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. "The necessity to accommodate the demands of larger range units means that the hoods are getting equally larger. In order to maintain a stylish look, everything from copper to detailed wood paneling is being used on the hood."
Oversized farm-styled sinks are practical and notable additions for today’s home chefs. Consider whether you prefer a seamless look or a more rustic appearance.
Old classic: Standard size two-basin sinks
Updated classic: Oversized, under-mounted single & double basin sinks, seamless countertop sinks, stainless and farmhouse sinks
Oversized sinks are a necessity for handling our larger pots and pans. They come in all shapes, styles and sizes in a myriad of materials.
If you prefer a seamless look, concrete, soapstone and composite materials such as Corian give you the option of integrating the sink into the counter.
Fireclay, still widely used for its intrinsic durability and subtle ivory façade, is making a comeback. Farm-styled sinks forged from copper are still widely popular in log-home kitchens.
If concrete sounds intriguing, Sonoma Stone (www.sonomastone.com) has a line of sinks made from Stainless NuCrete in all shapes and sizes.
Durable, low-maintenance and cost-effective flooring options for your kitchen are limitless.
Old classic: Oak and pine flooring, ceramic tiles
Updated classic: Bamboo, mesquite, hickory, oversized porcelain tiles and concrete
Today you can find flooring materials in a wide range of prices. Interestingly, those products that were once hard to find and out of reach financially are now found at local retail flooring stores at very competitive prices.
Options to consider are bamboo, mesquite, hickory, porcelain tile and even concrete.
To meet growing demand for more environmentally-friendly countertop materials, kitchen designers and homeowners are finding many exciting alternatives to granite.
Old classic: Solid granite countertops on every surface
Updated classic: Natural quartz, engineered compounds, concrete, wood/butcher-block and lavastone, stainless and polished granite
Owners are trying to streamline by creating simple appearance that flow effortlessly. "Even in rustic-themed homes, the kitchens are being designed first for function, second for look," McCarthy says.
"Most design professionals agree that mixing materials is not only more aesthetically appealing, it’s more practical to select surfaces based on the usage of each particular workstation," says Ines Hani, owner of The Sky Is the Limit Design in Victoria, British Columbia. Some of the materials leading this trend include:
Recycled products incorporating everything from glass to paper are catching on due to their resilient nature and "green" attributes. Leading brands include Icestone, Paperstone and Vetrazzo.
Quarried from blocks of volcanic lava, it’s a dense material that enamels beautifully into bright, translucent colors. The sage green color, in particular, looks wonderful with natural wood.
www.concretenetwork.com for more information.Today’s technologies have revolutionized concrete: It can be colored at various stages for a more striking or subtle appearance, and is crack-resistant. Visit
Solid wood and butcher-block counters are truly symbolic of the old fashioned thick wood worktables of a bygone era. "People love the look and feel of wood and with the right treatment wood will last a lifetime in the kitchen," Hani says. Look for those that are finished using an organic product such as a tung oil-based varnish that penetrates into the wood fibers to create a permanent finish that will not crack, chip or peel.