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Something's cookin' Homeowners incorporate their personal tastes when renovating their kitchens

When attorney Sally J. Broad and her husband, Ed, decided to renovate the kitchen in their Buffalo home, they cooked up a set of priorities. Among them:

Create more of an open feeling in the kitchen -- a desire achieved by tearing down two partial walls.

Use natural materials. The back splash is crafted from tumbled stones from Turkey. The cabinets are cherry with a chocolate-hued glaze. The counter tops are granite.

"We looked at solid surfaces but loved the granite," Broad said.

Personalize the space with antiques. Instead of choosing a desk that matched the cabinets and counter tops, the couple brought in a Mission desk from their former house in Clarence. Other pieces include an antique library table for dining, as opposed to the banquette they had first considered, and two Hitchcock Signature chairs "we brought back from New England one year."

And Ed Broad -- operations manager for Mercy Flight -- insisted on one of the current hot trends in kitchen design: Stainless steel appliances. Sleek, masculine, don't-mess-with-me appliances.

It's a guy thing.

"Every man that comes into our home ignores the granite counter tops, ignores the display case and kitchen island, goes right to the 64-inch refrigerator and freezer, opens up the doors and says, 'Wowwww,' " Broad said.

People love to talk about kitchens. They love to check out the kitchens on television, in magazines, at home shows, in their own neighborhood.

And even casual cooks are often interested in the newest trends in appliances, cabinets, flooring -- even gadgets.

Oh, yes. Whether it's yogurt machines or panini-makers, "everything they use on the Food Channel we try to get in because people want them," said Lynne Trigilio, assistant manager of the Podge, a Clarence store specializing in kitchen and gourmet items.

When it comes to current trends in kitchen design, Doug Holt, a local certified kitchen/bath designer with the Professional Kitchen Design Group, said that -- like the stainless steel eye-catchers in the Broads' kitchen -- snazzy appliances are in.

So, too, are knocking down walls/opening up kitchens; incorporating display areas for collectibles; installing heated floors, and choosing natural materials (stone counter tops, real wood cabinets, etc.).

(The all-things-natural trend can even be found in tabletop accessories. At Linens 'n Things, designer Nate Berkus has created wooden place mats -- crafted from interlocking dowels, in chocolate, black and natural, for example.)

>Mix the woods

For today's kitchens, Holt also likes to mix woods "when it makes sense."

The kitchen island, for one, does not have to match the cabinetry. The built-in cabinets, Holt said, should look as if they belong to the house.

"But the island can be fun. We treat it like a piece of furniture we brought in and plunked down," he said.

Similarly, exotic wood -- mixed with customary -- is a trend to watch for.

"To bring the furniture look into the kitchen makes sense to me -- using an exotic veneer such as crotch mahogany on the center panel of cabinets with a complementary wood frame. All this has history in furniture," he said.

Warming drawers are popular, too, and today's well-outfitted kitchens may also include a "drink center" -- the 21st-century version of the "wet bar," Holt said. Features may include a sink, storage for glasses and a small refrigerator away from the main work triangle.

Then there is the whole matter of wine.

"There's a lot more theater in wine than there used to be," Holt said. Which is why 15- or 24-inch wide wine coolers are showing up in kitchens, as is ample storage for wine bottles, glasses and accessories.

As for other trends, Jason Goodrich, the design consultant at Ken-Ton Fabricators who worked with Sally and Ed Broad, said he is seeing more mixing of old and new elements in kitchens, as well as warm and cold (such as wood and stainless).

Organization and interior cabinet accessories are key in today's kitchens.

Many of the cabinets from the '70s were like boxes, Goodrich notes. No longer. Today, it's about function. Pull-out drawers and other nifty storage builders are what people want.

"By using the right interior accessories, you can store as much in a small kitchen as you can in a big kitchen. They're much more functional," he said.

>Lighting is key

Like other designers, Goodrich said that alternative materials such as durable bamboo or laminate flooring as well as eco-friendly lyptus wood are finding their ways into today's kitchens.

Lighting also is a big deal today. "People will say, 'I don't care what it costs; I want the lighting to be right,' " Holt said.

What works is a combination of different lighting types -- recessed lights in the works areas; under-cabinet lighting to better illuminate the counter tops; great looking halogen pendants over the island; period lighting to match certain decors, and more.

Other trends to watch for:

*Concrete counter tops; European contemporary styling, and darker woods, Holt said.

*Cast iron grill pans, Dutch ovens, etc.; silicone bake ware and basting brushes, often colorful; and Microplanes for zesting and grating, said Lynne Trigilio, from Podge.

*Copper -- big time. We're talking copper sinks, counter tops, back splashes, faucets, bar sinks, Goodrich said.

As for accessories, there are copper hanging racks for pots and pans; decorative copper ware -- such as the old-fashioned molds, and more, Trigilio said.

*Newer contemporary looks in wallcoverings. "People still like French Country and stripes, but we are seeing more contemporary looks -- cool stuff," said Barbara Rykse, president of Setel Wallpaper on Hertel Avenue.

"There is all sorts of geometrics -- circles, squares, odd shapes -- in brighter colors, even orange and bright green. Everything has been so dull for so long. Instead of muddy colors, the colors are clearer, bold and bright," she said.

To match those silicone basting brushes, perhaps?

NOTE: This is the second part of a two-part series about kitchen remodeling. Last Friday's story discussed how to get started on a kitchen remodeling project.

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