Consumer Reports magazine recently tested kitchen components and contacted designers to identify trends. The testers found that many designers prefer islands that have a raised side that conceals the island’s prep area. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) says there should be at least 42 inches between an island and the surrounding cabinets and appliances to maintain traffic flow. In addition, the NKBA found that 54 percent of its kitchen designers preferred high-efficiency LED lights in 2010. The magazine also found that designers prefer French-door fridges that have side-by-side doors and a bottom freezer. They also cited wall-oven and cooktop combinations if space permits because wall ovens reduce the need for bending and lifting heavy items. Consumer Reports furthermore found significant variation among Energy Star rated appliances, so it is essential for homeowners to examine yearly operating costs as well as performance. Faucets were found to be a good place to save money because price had little impact on performance in Consumer Reports’ tests. Faucets costing as low as $80 had a lifetime warranty against leaks and staining, for instance. Kitchens that have walk-in pantries should maximize the space by adding a stand alone freezer, allowing homeowners to stock up on bulk items to save money, the magazine advised. | Read More