By TERESA AZEVEDO COUTINHO
Teresa Azevedo Coutinho runs her own interior design consultancy in Lisbon and found her niche in designing holiday homes for UK and Irish clients. Her company is expanding with the undertaking of international projects and the opening of a new office in Lagos.
KITCHEN REMODELLING is leading the way when it comes to large scale home improvements. Kitchens are at the heart of modern homes and are no longer the humble rooms that time and style forgot.
It is now the social hub of most households, with some people ditching the dining room in favour of the kitchen as the main room for eating and entertaining guests.
The kitchen in our residential projects has become the centre of the house, influenced by the open plan layouts of homes in Portugal and also the food preparation areas in certain high-end restaurants, turning them into places of entertainment.
The custom in older houses was to have the kitchen door firmly closed. This changed when the island style came in and the walls came down. Next, the idea of a formal living room disappeared so that now there is one great room, which in turn, is influencing the design and use of appliances.
The average cost of a kitchen has risen by 15-20 per cent in the past five years, and home owners are prepared to invest more than ever before to ensure the design and quality of their kitchen is of the highest possible standard. Adjustable hoods for tall cooks, six-foot-wide fridges, the latest kitchen trends are all about oversize ambition and imagination.
After decades of trying to escape the kitchen, women are once more becoming slaves to it but in design times. They want the best in domestic diva design with perfect surfaces and accessories. Men have been enticed into the kitchen by celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver and designs with a cool, harder-edged look, to appeal to masculine tastes, are the height of sophistication.
It makes sense that, as we spend more of our social and leisure time in the kitchen, we want them to look as stylish as possible while offering all the functionality we require.
Smart space solutions are more important than ever. It’s not about cramming every available inch of space with cupboards, it’s about making base units work harder and investing in space saving solutions to maximise open space.
An essential part of that kitchen is the cabinetry providing stylish storage in a wide array of options, colours and design configurations. From furniture-look pieces with corbels and mouldings to sleek, contemporary wall cabinets that seem to blend seamlessly into the kitchen.
Natural wood in dark, sumptuous colours is undergoing a massive surge in popularity and works in both contemporary and traditional kitchens. The quality of the grain is important and gives a glamorous, luxurious feel.
2008 is seeing the re-emergence of sliding doors which were popular in the 1960s. With dramatically improved runner mechanisms, sliding doors made of glass not only look great but reflect light and make your kitchen feel much bigger.
The return of integrated handles is popular as they are recessed into the door and create a subtle but visually appealing finish.
Also integral to creating both mood and look is lighting. A humble fluorescent bar or lonesome bulb will no longer suffice. Lighting should be a functional feature and as well thought out as every other element of the kitchen.
Kitchens and their appliances have evolved into some of the most sophisticated, technologically advanced and convenient on the market. One trend is the steam oven. These hi-tech appliances look great, enable you to rustle up healthy dishes quickly and, thanks to the steam, are much easier to clean.
Contemporary kitchen design uses very complicated technology to make life simpler. High-tech offerings from manufacturers include countertops that use electronic sensors to measure ingredients and food portions, to an oven which can both thaw and roast. There is even a project in development where home owners will simply be able to dial in from their mobile phone and activate appliances! You can now buy fridges with television sets and computers on them that keep track of everything in the kitchen so you can tell when you need something. LG Electronics, for example, produces a TV and DVD 15-inch television on the right-hand door of a fridge, plus a weather and information centre and recipe database on the left.
The current trend in taps is a single, sleek arm protruding from the sink rim with pull-out and pull-down faucet that has a retractable spray hose hidden inside the traditional fixing. It’s great for filling pots, cleaning dishes, and giving a head of lettuce a thorough rinse.
Consumers’ increasing colour confidence and personal style makes any colour work for kitchens in 2008. From glass-like blues, botanical greens, dramatic black and white and whispers of soft pink, colours are being driven by individuals expressing themselves and clients love the idea of glamorous living. Black has gained in popularity for paint hues to enhance opulent looking kitchen spaces.
The kitchen has become much more than a room where cooking is done, but open plan spaces where we want to linger in comfort. Don’t know where to begin? No time? No vision? Then turn to a creative designer.
For more information, please contact Teresa Azevedo Coutinho on 262 909 822, email [email protected]