What’s Cooking?

Five Top Trends for 50+ Kitchens

Whether you are a treadmill-tromping active adult or an older senior with limited mobility, there are new ways of thinking about the kitchen. The kitchen is arguably the most important room in the home, everyone wants to know, “What’s Cooking?” For the new-home shopper of any age, it remains vitally important to demonstrate the endless possibilities of today’s high-tech, high-style kitchens.

Here are five top trends for designing your new mature kitchen.

Location, Location, Location

While that is usually the most important tenet invoked when assessing a real estate purchase, it has become equally important to consider that when laying out a kitchen for mature adults.

Rethinking the placement of appliances, sinks, and storage so their locations are more comfortable for bending, reaching, and working will be the key to designing your kitchen specifically for you. Take the double oven, for example. Why not install them in two separate locations — splitting, not stacking them – and eliminate that awkward oven on the bottom?

Realize that the over-the-range microwave might be not only difficult but also dangerous for the average consumer.

And the dishwasher? That’s something we’ve all spent too many years bending over to load and unload, so why not raise the dishwasher with separate drawers installed at counter height?

The universal reach ranges from 15 to 48 inches,” says Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, CAPS, a kitchen and bath designer and universal design professional who recommends implementing this sort of out-of-the-box thinking. Consider the array of other appliances in drawer formats, such as microwaves, refrigerators, warming drawers, and ice makers.

When dedicating space to a built-in refrigerator, cautions Peterson, make sure that space allotted never extends beyond the countertop. When installing a free-standing fridge, a 24-inch depth is a good rule of thumb.

A mini-kitchen built right into a master suite may just be the only private place in some households for a morning cup of coffee. In this room, make sure there are plenty of electrical outlets to accommodate appliances such as a microwave for quick coffee warm-ups, and a mini-fridge for those middle-of-the-night ice cream indulgences.

Everything, Including the Kitchen Sink

Most households have more than one cook in the kitchen, so how about two sinks? A prep sink, in addition to the main sink, will create a separate work zone. Smart sinks, such as Kohler’s trough-shaped stainless steel Crevasse, are made especially for food prep, automatically rinsing food scraps and activating the disposal.

A bar sink in the nearby dining or family room creates more possibilities when entertaining.

Working sinks are often two-to-three inches deeper today, accommodating larger pots and pans and keeping splashing to a minimum. Stylish options range from apron sinks (also known as farm sinks) to sleek, contemporary stainless steel designs. And how about a pop of color?

The sink faucet has been re-imagined, too. The Kohler Karbon articulated arm is a great option for the mobility challenged. And pot fillers are increasingly popular, alleviating the heavy lifting required for carrying a heavy pasta pot from the sink to the stove.

Fantasy Island

Kitchen islands have become more stylish and functional. For the less mobile resident, or for people whom standing is a problem, create an island niche or fold-up extension that accommodates sitting while preparing food. Another trend is to situate the microwave at the end of an island, making it more reachable for the mobility-challenged user, or even the grandkids.


And while we’re at it, why not consider two islands? One can be for eat-in convenience and the other for chopping and rinsing. Two-tiered islands and breakfast bars offer additional flexibility, and cabinetry in finishes contrasting with the base cabinets appear more like furniture than a built-in.

High-Tech Touches

Don’t forget to include a tech nook in today’s kitchen. A great many of the over-50 crowd are quite comfortable with the Internet, email and social networking, so a computer desk in a kitchen will allow them to browse for recipes on cooking sites and Pinterest, and monitor the front door at the same time.

A docking station will allow them to recharge all of today’s gadgets. Streamlined systems can be slipped out of sight behind a base or wall cabinet.

Earth-Friendly Fashion

While granite is still popular, the countertop world has opened up with new possibilities that are Earth-friendly, such as lava stone counters that emit zero toxins. Butcher block is making a comeback, and soapstone, limestone, glass, copper, and concrete are other natural countertop materials. Recycled glass and metal shavings sealed into a transparent matrix also are environmentally conscious choices. So are low-VOC paint and bamboo flooring.

Natural woods such as walnut, mahogany, hemlock, and bamboo, are making strong appearances. Contrasting colors and two-tone colors are popular, not only for cabinets but for countertops and appliances as well.

Don’t underestimate this important market’s discerning taste or desire for style and technology. For the builder catering to today’s over-50 market, the possibilities are endless. By staying on top of the shifting trends in this important market niche, builders will be able to target — and satisfy — this important demographic group in the future.

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