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What do consumers want most in their kitchens? One industry research group polls them regularly for the answer to that question. According to the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence’s latest poll, the top 10 most-desired design features include numerous wellness-enhancing features.
A walk-in pantry was the first choice of the 995 respondents, RICKI reports, and has been in the top five most wanted features since 2018. Pantry storage has definitely taken on more importance with many consumers since the pandemic and related supply chain issues created shortage challenges, the desire to cook and bake more at home, and the desire for bulk shopping to reduce trips to the store.
Built-in Water Filtration
This feature ranked third on the list and has also been in the top five for the past four years. It’s likely that the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan and similar issues around the country have contributed to demand for this capability. What consumers need to know is that not all filters are alike; some don’t remove lead, or they do, but not as thoroughly as they expected. (Consumer Reports has several suggestions to make sure you’re getting the best outcome.)
This feature, also a top five most wanted since 2018, has been gaining new performance enhancements in the past two years. There are now models available with voice control, letting the user choose temperature and volume as well as turning the faucet on and off. Earlier introductions only facilitated on and off functionality, reducing their reason for being! Being able to operate these touchless faucets completely hands-free means truly cutting the incidence of germ spread between family members, and contact between hands, food-borne contagions and the faucet surface.
This is the last of the four year perennial top five features. Customized storage improves accessibility for users with flexibility or mobility challenges; base cabinet roll-out, lazy susan and swing-out accessories means not having to get on the floor with kneepads and flashlight to reach items in the back. It also enhances the capacity and functionality of one’s kitchen. You can add storage on backsplashes or ceilings with rails and hooks. You can bring items from the top shelves of a wall cabinet to reachable level for someone in a wheelchair. And you can create specialized zones for baking, smoothies, coffee, etc. with specialized inserts. (Interior cabinet lighting, number nine on the most wanted list, can enhance the visibility of customized storage even more.)
This feature showed up as the sixth most desired feature for a kitchen, and can mean the difference between a julienned carrot and fingertip. Task lighting for chopping, recipe reading, measuring spoon filling and other tasks that require precision is a crucial wellness feature. It enhances safety, comfort and functionality, three of the five facets of wellness design.
Pet Care Area
Pet adoptions surged during the pandemic and those new family members needed a place for their food and water bowls and other supplies. Though many veterinarians don’t recommend feeding cats and dogs in the kitchen, where they can be tempted by trash can contents or stepped on by busy parents, setting up a zone for them outside of the work aisles can make sense. Pets enhance the well-being of their owners, making well-planned specialized spaces for them wellness features for both animal and human.
Other Most Wanted Elements
The remaining items on the most wanted list include kitchen island (#2), soft-close cabinetry (#7) and decorative backsplash (#8). You could make a wellness design case for all three. Islands can enhance the kitchen’s functionality by housing point-of-use appliances, customized storage and creating the basis for healthy meal prep zones. Soft-close drawers can reduce the risk of a child’s finger getting painfully caught, boosting safety, and reduce slamming noises in the space, adding comfort. A decorative backsplash can contribute to the homeowner’s delight, contributing to the joy end of the comfort and joy facet.