Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kitchen On Show

Source : The Straits Times, June 28 2008

Entertaining at home has moved from the living room to the kitchen, so owners are pulling out all stops to create a showpiece dry kitchen

WHEN it comes to what's cooking in kitchen designs these days, having just one kitchen doesn't cut it any more.

Home owners Lorena Chan and her civil servant husband Anthony Tan are typical of many Singaporeans nowadays. When they were redesigning their semi-detached home in MacPherson two years ago, they wanted both a wet kitchen and a dry one.

'Entertaining has moved from the living area to the kitchen, so the dry kitchen now becomes the central attraction' Mr Lim Wee Li, managing director of Kitchen Culture, an upmarket kitchen system and appliances retailer -- ST PHOTOS: SAMUEL HE

A 'wet' kitchen is a trendy way of describing the serious place where all the heavy cooking and washing is done. A 'dry' kitchen is more like a bar counter, for light cooking, and where guests can sit and chat with the chef.

Ms Chan, 35, an avid cook who whips up stir-fry dishes on weekends, says with two separate kitchens, 'cooking fumes no longer fill the living area when I cook, unlike before'.

Previously, they had just one, small kitchen.

Interior designers say the trend of having both a wet and a dry kitchen has emerged over the past five years as more Singaporeans entertain at home.

Mr Lim Wee Li, managing director of Kitchen Culture, an upmarket kitchen systems and appliances retailer, says: 'Entertaining has moved from the living area to the kitchen, so the dry kitchen now becomes the central attraction.'

Designers say that as a result, customers demand that the dry kitchen must look good as it is a showpiece where visitors gather.

Riding the trend, even property developers are now incorporating wet and dry kitchens into their projects.

City Developments Limited (CDL) group general manager Chia Ngiang Hong adds that with changing lifestyle needs, separate kitchens are increasingly commonplace in new residential developments.

CDL has incorporated such kitchens into its luxury developments including St Regis Residences, Cliveden at Grange and The Oceanfront@Sentosa Cove.

Kitchen Culture's Mr Lim says home owners opt for 'state-of-the-art cooking appliances, granite worktops and cabinets with veneer or gloss finishes instead of the usual lacquer finish'.

Just the dry kitchen alone can cost at least an extra $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the choice of materials, excluding appliances.

Ms Chan, a vice-president at a financial services company, and her husband forked out $30,000 for their dual kitchens, excluding appliances.

Their wet kitchen has a sink, a stove, an oven, a fridge and cupboards, and is separated from the dry kitchen by a glass door.

The latter, which is just by the dining area, is built on an island counter and comes with an induction cooker, a small sink for washing cups, a second fridge, a coffee-maker and two bar stools. There is also a computer there so Ms Chan can surf the Internet for recipes.

To hide the second fridge, which is visible from the living area, there is a sliding wooden panel which, when shut, becomes a feature wall.

Her husband's family has been living in the old house for 20 years. The family, including her elderly parents-in-law, sister-in-law and two young children, moved into their newly built two-storey plus attic home in March.

The new kitchen set-up was designed by Ms Sarah Tham of interior design firm Cube Associate Design.

Ms Tham says that as a dry kitchen is near the dining area, it should blend in with the rest of the home.

She says all her clients nowadays 'want a wet and dry kitchen'.

She notes that home owners are also spending more money doing up their dry kitchens rather than the wet areas. 'They spend more time in the dry kitchen so they are more willing to spend more money on it.'

For wet kitchens, practicality is the main factor in design. Wider sinks are expected for washing of big pots and pans, along with kitchen hoods that are able to quickly suck away cooking fumes.

Although wooden doors can be used to separate the two areas, interior designer Annie Tan of The Interach Design encourages the use of glass doors, saying 'you can keep the fumes enclosed, and still allow some natural light to fall in'.

Wet and dry kitchens have been incorporated into the designs of UOL's new condominium development, Breeze by the East in Upper East Coast Road, for its 40 three-bedroom units as well as 16 four-bedroom units and 18 penthouses.

It also has 14 two-bedroom units, but these have just one kitchen.

UOL's chief operating officer Liam Wee Sin says the dry kitchen is an extension of the living and dining space, noting: 'Home buyers enjoy a much larger area plus the convenience of a kitchen that is 'closer' to them.'

But while a wet and dry kitchen is on most home owners' wishlists, not everyone can have one. Ms Tan says the home must have at least 200 sq ft of kitchen space before it can be separated into two areas.

One home owner with space to spare is housewife Ruth Loh, 65. She has wet and dry kitchens in her five-room HDB flat on the 16th floor at Bedok, which she moved into in March.

She cooks mostly stir-fry dishes on weekdays for her husband, Peter, and herself in her wet kitchen. 'A smaller wet kitchen means less cleaning after cooking,' she says.

Her dry kitchen is for preparing breakfast and cutting fruit, and is her preferred part of the kitchen.

Standing at the counter, sited like her very own personal command centre, she says: 'I can stand here and look into the living area and even out to the sea.'

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