The kitchen is a home’s hot spot. But a kitchen’s design trends aren’t trendy when its composition and construction are dictated by how people really live, says Jonas Carnemark, whose eponymous design-build firm is based in Bethesda, Maryland.

         “The self-isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic has placed a magnifying lens on home design, especially in the kitchen,” says the 33-year certified kitchen designer, as designated by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. “The kitchen isn’t just a place where people prepare and eat food. It’s the heart and hub of a home, where everyone gathers before and after meals, too.”

         The NKBA’s “Living Impacts Design” research was released during the first quarter of 2020, and highlights consumers’ kitchen inclinations based on more than 750 completed industry surveys. Influential changes to kitchen design include: plans for aging in place; homeowners’ need to escape from a chaotic world; a desire to live with less; and more people working from home, according to the report.

         “When designing kitchens, people want an open, minimalistic space in which many can gather, and yet have a space that feels cozy and calming,” Carnemark says. “The NKBA research highlights and objectifies trends we’ve been seeing in the kitchen, such as quality builds in terms of sustainability and functionality.”

         Designing kitchens that really cook on all levels is a necessity in today’s home.

         Whether the cook is on-the-go, with little time for meal prep, or a more health-conscious experimental epicure with the desire to prepare fresh foods, the kitchen is now accommodating many styles and skill levels.

         Connected Living

         “The kitchen is the natural place in the home to gather, and as a result, people want to feel connected — both to each other and the world at large,” Carnemark says. “People want literal access to the outside world and nature from their kitchen or digitally, through electronic devices.”

         The first step to more connected kitchen living is tearing down walls. A formal, separate dining room has been tabled in favor of incorporating many types of seating as the kitchen area occupies more square footage.

         Today’s kitchen has a living area outfitted with sofa, stuffed chairs and a big-screen television that is wired for movie marathons, big game day gatherings and Zoom calls. In this space — which can include a bar area and fireplace — families can chill out and lounge around in a comfortable atmosphere with easy access to the kitchen and food.

         A kitchen that also encourages outdoor living is the environment many homeowners desire. The installation of sliding doors from the larger kitchen area to an outdoor patio encourages gatherings to spill outside.