The first thing an outstanding designer does when putting pen to paper on a home design is find out exactly who is going to live in that home–the exact demographic of the inhabitant. This is specially true about the kitchen which is often the most lived-in space in the house and around which many more activities occur any more nowadays than just cooking. Luckily, today’s demographic in the kitchen ‘mass market’ is easy to define–it is mostly ‘baby boomers’ aged 55-65, followed by ‘leading edge GenX’ers’ aged 45-55 years old. These two demographics between them make up the bulk of the folks looking to design a kitchen as opposed to simply taking what comes with a new house. People older than 65, the ‘seniors’, are no longer the dominant home owning demographic and don’t spend as much time in the kitchen while those younger than 45 are considered entry-level homeowners and are also not as numerous as the first two.
Activities in and around the kitchen
A baby boomer’s kitchen is very likely to have a large flat screen TV as part of it that is easily visible from several activity areas surrounding it. The kitchen is no longer a ‘room’ but a space around which a lot of family activity revolves. This activity could be video games, watching the news, searching for data and even doing homework with access to outdoor grilling and a deck just a step or two away. The common factor is that it all revolves around the kitchen. This often manifests in a ‘living room’ or ‘family room’ area complete with sitting or lounging furniture joined to the kitchen with an informal ‘dining’ area, both divided and united by a cabinetwork peninsula, perhaps with a sink and cooktop on one side and an open area on the other with tall stools for the kids to do their homework on or simply help make dinner.
Baby boomers are no longer willing to risk a back injury by bending down to open an oven door and will likely have wall ovens installed at a carefully measured height. Similarly, the efficiency-demanding boomer will insist on having the pantry close at hand at most 3 or 4 steps away, not in another room and certainly not behind another door. This can manifest as another ‘area’ adjacent to the cooking areas, perhaps with a dividing wall of overhead cabinets and counter spaces open to both areas.
The GenX’er is even more tech savvy and may have several appliances hooked up to the internet with sensors and alarms to remind and warn of upcoming events, like a “cake is ready” message flashing on TV screens all over the house. She may switch on the oven with her phone on her way back from work and set the temperature for baked fish when she is 10 minutes away. Her priority is “get it done quick” and therefore all appliances will likely be electric with a few being dual fuel, all with touch control panels that work just like her phone screen, perhaps with the same operating system (iOS, Android, webOS or some other new OS).
All of this is exciting stuff for kitchen design and there is no question that something like this will become the de facto standard if it is not already.