The recipe for today's best kitchen is to create a space where family and friends will love to hang out -- because today's kitchens are for living.
The kitchen is no longer just for cooking, but part of a larger kitchen/dining/living space -- the great room concept -- where families cook, eat and socialize in a free-flowing open floor plan.
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Vote for your favoriteEach year, area homebuilders showcase their newest models and floor plans during the Daily Heralds's five-week Spring Home Show. This year, potential buyers and readers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite builder in five categories -- kitchen, master bedroom suite, decor, design plan and community/amenities -- in three product lines -- condo/townhouse, single-family home and custom home.
Voting begins today and closes on Sunday, March 30. Winners will be announced Friday, April 11.
Voters can select their favorites in each product line and in each category once a day. For details and to vote, visit dhcontests.secondstreetapp.com/Chicagolands-Top-New-Home-Model.
To find participating builders, see the map on Page 3 or search dailyherald.com/homeshow.
It's also a multifunctional space where family members can be involved in different activities simultaneously. Kids might dash in from school, eat a snack at the breakfast bar, and then get out their laptops. At the same time, dad watches the news on TV while mom talks on her cellphone and checks on dinner in the oven.
Today custom and upscale homebuilders have more ingredients than ever before to craft a well-equipped kitchen that sizzles with style.
Overstreet Builders serves up a traditional, elegant kitchen in its Castleby model home at Fairways of Augusta Village in Bolingbrook.
The kitchen, dinette and family room merge in an open plan ideal for entertaining family and friends. Dark walnut custom cabinetry contrasts with white and gold granite countertops that add to the room's rich, luxurious feel.
Islands are a hot item in today's kitchens and a must-have for most homebuyers. As part of the Executive Series, the Castleby model shows not only one -- but two islands -- a standout feature in the home.
With efficiency in mind, the center island near the stove is a great prep space with a decorative shelf for favorite accessories. While entertaining guests, the host can put together more hors d'oeuvres here because the food is set out on the other island, said Jessica Overstreet, sales representative at the Bolingbrook community.
The second island near the dinette holds dishes, utensils and the buffet spread for entertaining with ease. With its sink and wine cooler, the island can also perform as a beverage center. The island shows shelving for a cookbook collection or decorative items. Each island also can serve multiple purposes for day-to-day living.
Natural light creates an inviting setting in the extended dinette that is not reserved just for breakfast. It keeps the table away from the kitchen work area, but not in a formal dining room.
"This arrangement makes the area such a great entertaining space," Overstreet said. "It's been a very popular concept."
The builder also features under-mount lighting in all its cabinets for a brighter work surface and as a decorative element to leave on when the kitchen is not in use in the evenings.
The two-story family room is a dramatic aspect of the space with a two-story fireplace and windows on either side.
William Ryan Homes
In the Jasper model at Walnut Glen in Island Lake, William Ryan Homes showcases its signature four-season morning room that is getting rave reviews.
The morning room is an extension of the luxury kitchen and a delightful place to greet the morning with a cup of coffee. A comfortable sectional beckons to homeowners, but once settled in, they may not make it to the kitchen for breakfast.
Bold blue walls create excitement in the morning room that also features a cathedral ceiling and lots of windows. The beauty of this space is taking advantage of morning sunshine, said Todd Warshauer, director of sales and marketing.
"The floor plan integrates the kitchen, morning room, eating area and family room for a very open space that is the focal point of the main level with easy access from other rooms," he said.
A transitional decor with a navy, cornflower blue and yellow color scheme creates a cheerful vibe in this home outfitted as a comfortable, family-friendly residence.
Other features include a white center island topped with light-colored granite that contrasts with the darker oak cabinetry and hardwood flooring, while a butler's pantry sits off the kitchen and dining room.
A cooktop hood gets your attention while the family room offers space for the whole family to gather around the fireplace and watch TV or play games.
This year's new floor plans include the builder's updated chef's kitchen and estate kitchen with upgraded appliances and cabinets. William Ryan Homes' new Jericho design is similar to this Jasper plan.
KLM Builders features a palette of warm earth tones and a Tuscan Old World ambience in its Sonoma model, a popular ranch plan at Thousand Oaks in Spring Grove.
The beauty, quality and craftsmanship of cabinetry and flooring take center stage in this home. The maple cabinetry features a solid raised panel with a mocha glaze that highlights the trim while crown molding on top dresses it up.
Cabinets feature deluxe construction of solid wood with dovetail and soft close doors and drawers. Drawers are full extension. They open all the way out, and when you push the drawer shut, it closes softly. Rollout trays and pullout shelves add convenience and easy access for busy homeowners, said Kim Meier, president of KLM Builders.
"These cabinets are for a lifetime; they won't wear out," Meier said.
Granite countertops feature a sensa granite coating that seals the stone with no need for buyers to seal or stain the surface, Meier said.
The beautiful raised breakfast bar wraps all around the counter on a 45-degree angle with lots of seating for casual dining or entertaining while there's seating for eight in the adjoining breakfast area.
"We did a hand-scraped, solid 5-inch hardwood flooring, which is really popular now in our upscale kitchens," Meier said. " We're doing a lot of this."
Higher 10-foot ceilings give the space a nice spacious feel, and this is a great layout for hosting a sporting event or having company over for brunch because there's lots of seating and everyone can communicate with each other, Meier said.
KLM also brings new technology into the kitchen with an Apple iPad built in the wall that controls all functionalities of house, like setting scenes of lighting, turning on music and adjusting the heat. He also features a smart faucet where water comes on with the wave of a hand.