What’s Cooking

  • Thu Feb 18th, 2010 10:43am

By RaeJean Hasenoehrl For The Herald

A television in your kitchen? It’s not a new concept. In fact, your grandmother probably had one in her kitchen years ago. But hers was black and white and squatty.

Yours, on the other hand, can be sleek and stylistic, with high definition (HD) picture quality and Internet capabilities. It can be small enough to fit within an opening in your cabinetry or large enough to have a wall of its own.

Adding 21st-century technology to your kitchen is just one of the trends hitting Western Washington. It sits alongside the ability to update your kitchen with new appliances that simplify your chores and the movement to add furniture-like features to your cabinetry.

As mentioned before, a television in the kitchen is nothing new. Nor is adding a computer to help prepare weekly menus, pay bills, send e-mails and check recipe sites.

But what if these two items merged into a luxurious piece of architecture that can be mounted behind your stove, baking center or kitchen sink? And what if this piece could be customized to not just accentuate, but also to define, the personality of your kitchen?

According to Josh Wolfe, co-owner of Bry’s TV and Appliance in Marysville, such technology exists in the form of a Séura television mirror. “It’s something you’d want in your kitchen that is beautiful and actually

functional,” he said.

Products from Séura have been showcased on HGTV’s “Divine Design,” installed in a number of luxury hotels, and used in a Nate Berkus kitchen makeover on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

From a design standpoint, the television mirror doesn’t compromise your decor to gain visibility of your favorite movie or sports program while you prepare a meal.

When powered on, the LCD television provides a clear picture. “You can watch The Food Network, look up your favorite recipes or find new recipes on the Internet,” Wolfe said.

When powered off, the LCD vanishes, and a mirror — in either a true mirror reflection or a tinted soft reflection surface — appears.

“If it’s placed behind the stove, you can more easily see the people sitting at the counter behind you while you cook,” he said. “You can be more in tune with the conversations going on in the room.”

You can also help your kids with computer homework while you take care of dinner preparations.

The unit is available in a waterproof form specifically designed for the kitchen or the bathroom, including inside a shower. As demonstrated by the unit displayed at Bry’s, its size and framing are customizable. Because it is available in hundreds of colors, you can tailor it to coordinate with your tile or granite.

Other technologies that may not be as flashy as the television mirror, but are equally successful in providing entertainment to the kitchen, include stereo components for small spaces, iPod docks that can distribute audio throughout the house, and the Samsung refrigerator with a built-in LCD screen.

This French door refrigerator allows you to control its temperature and check its water filter from the exterior LCD screen. “You can also upload a digital photo album, access a calendar, keep a schedule, look at nutrition facts and check unit conversions for recipes,” Wolfe said.

Another appliance that may not include a calendar but will keep you on schedule is an oven with multi-level baking racks. “You can bake up to three racks of cookies at a time, saving energy and allowing you more family time,” Rick Kvangnes said. The general manager of Judd &Black also noted that a 30-inch double oven range is available that “fits in the same footprint as an old single oven range.” Thus, you can roast chicken in one oven while baking a cheesecake in the other.

Additional time-savers include a Jenn-Air oven that requires no preheat time and an Electrolux cook top with induction elements that can boil water in 90 seconds.

Kvangnes also noted that families can save time by updating their laundry centers to the newer high-efficiency models.

“The Whirlpool Duet washers let you wash up to 18 pairs of jeans in a single load,” he said. Some also offer a TumbleFresh option that uses a built-in fan and intermittent tumbling to continually circulate air in the washer. So, if you forget a load or wash a load overnight, it will smell fresh the next day.

For those days when you’ve forgotten to wash the soccer uniform and the game is in an hour — well, there is hope. The new Duet laundry pairs feature an exceptionally fast wash and dry time for small loads, just over 30 minutes — ideal for when you need clean clothes in a hurry.

Because washing machines are often located near a kitchen, manufacturers are developing machines that run quieter, so as not to disrupt household activities. Whirlpool washers with the NightQuiet option include the option of a lower spin speed to further reduce operational sound when you need it.

Standing alongside these innovative statements in technology are updated statements in cabinetry design. As kitchens are functioning more like family rooms, cabinetry is being patterned after fine furniture.

As project manager for SMY Home Improvement in Lynnwood, Vladimir Ulyanchuk utilizes a variety of design and storage amenities offered by the cabinetry companies his business represents.

“There are several tricks to make a kitchen look nice and more useful,” Ulyanchuck said.

Cosmetic touches that add customization to typical cabinetry include the use of corbels, columns, onlays and moldings.

A set of corbels, for instance, can turn a range hood into a mantel. Decorative legs added to a hutch or side group of cabinetry give the area the look of freestanding furniture.

Of course, these architectural aspects need not be implemented throughout the kitchen to make an impact.

The perimeter cabinetry can remain untouched with just the center island receiving new color and decorative elements to make it the striking focus of the space. Architectural accents such as filler panels, turned legs or fluted columns, along with a change of color, can dramatically change an existing island or create an entirely new one.

For better family organization in the kitchen, Ulyanchuck suggested an organizer for mail and a side cabinet for keys. Other storage conveniences include docking stations for electronics, file drawers within a desk area, and toe kick drawers to hold baking sheets.

He also noted that many clients with enclosed kitchens are opting to remove walls to make the kitchen “more open and more family friendly.” With a kitchen open to a family room or living room, a gathering room is formed, perfect for entertaining friends or enjoying a family night of board games and movies.

Whether you are remodeling a kitchen or building a new one, many kitchen designers, such as SMY, prepare their designs using 3-D programming. Once the design is prepared, a printout is made reflecting all the design aspects, from counter placement to the position of a television on a wall.

“Customers love it,” Ulyanchuck said. “We can do any instant changes, make calculations and print out how the changes adjust the price.”

The 3-D aspect allows the room to be viewed from different vantage points, providing the homeowner with a visual of how efficiently the space will work.

Bry’s TV and Appliances

1401 State Ave.

Marysville, WA 98270

(360) 659-6533

www.brysonline.com

Judd &Black

3001 Hewitt Ave.

Everett, WA 98201

(425) 258-2591

www.juddblack.com

SMY Home Improvement

4510 168th St. SW

Lynnwood, WA 98037

(425) 745-8600

www.smystore.com