Today's kitchens feature more open floor plans, less formal, more inviting

Today’s kitchens are all about wide open spaces.

And in those spaces, homeowners are packing lots of design punch, from porcelain floors, quartz countertops and glass backsplashes to cabinets with baked-on finishes.

Angela Simoneaux Poirrier, a designer at her family’s Acadian House Kitchen & Bath Design business, says the biggest trend is the open kitchen and the less formal home plan.

“People are opening up their kitchens to their dining rooms to make one large space,” she says. “People are also converting their formal living rooms to keeping rooms.”

One of Poirrier’s favorite trends is the increased use of factory-processed quartz for countertops.

“The stone material is broken down and purified,” she says. “Resin is then applied, and the material is permanently sealed. You end up with all of the perks of a stone and none of the maintenance.”

Another popular use of countertop stones and quartz, which is now available in about 400 different colors, is on window seats or kitchen benches.

“You can put storage below the window seat or even use it as a secondary countertop,” she says.

Homeowners also now have a huge selection of factory-made cabinets, that are all-wood construction and have such added features, like slow-close drawers that extend fully, she says.

These cabinets have 25 layers of baked-on finish that “will never rub off,” Poirrier says. “You can get any combination of stain or paint, all done in the factory.”

Even though porcelain floors have been around for a number of years, she says, they have become very popular in the local market, especially in neutral colors.

“These have texture and are made in every shape and size,” the kitchen expert says. “That way a client has every piece she needs for any size kitchen.”

Poirrier likes to coordinate porcelain floors with stained-glass backsplashes in neutral patterns, such as a geometric basketweave.

“These are new and fresh, but they are still glass,” she says, adding that the surface is especially easy to clean.

Storage is one of the most important elements in any modern kitchen, and Poirrier says homeowners want floor-to-ceiling kitchen storage with pullout drawers capable of holding heavy items.

“You can put your more seasonal things in the top storage,” she says. “It gets everything in one area, not in the attic.”

As for appliances, Poirrier says she sees a trend toward steam ovens in place of the handy microwave.

“A microwave works by heating the water molecules, but it has a tendency to dry out the food,” she says. “A steam oven heats with steam. It adds moisture to the food.”

She also likes the induction cooktop for convenient cooking and cleanup. “It has the instant heat like a gas cooktop, but it is hooked up by electricity,” she says. “It heats up the pots, but the cooktop does not get hot.”

Homeowners who entertain a lot enjoy in-counter steamers, which work like large double boilers. “These are great for pastas and rice or for keeping foods hot,” Poirrier says.

Warming drawers have been around for a long time, but they are increasingly popular for people who entertain a lot.

“If you frequently use a catering service, these are a must for your kitchen,” she says.