Relying upon only super-heated steam to cook foods, steam ovens require no additional fats or oils for meal preparation. About the size of a microwave, they can steam fish and veggies, keep cooked foods warm and moist and even proof bread dough.
It's okay to splurge on a luxury item or two in the kitchen. "People want toys in their kitchensappliances that they may not necessarily need but would like to have," explains Nikki Trivisonno, a certified designer with Cleveland-based Somrak Kitchens.
As homeowners continue to spend more and more time in their kitchens, they are more likely to indulge in one or more specialty appliances. "It's a lot like electronics," she adds. "Once you see something in a friend's home, you have to have one."
Consider these specialty appliances:
Induction Cooktops. An induction cooker uses electricity to heat cooking vessels that are ferrous (made of iron or iron-based), as opposed to generating heat in the burner itself. The result is a process that is fast, precise and energy efficient, Trivisonno says. But because many homeowners are not yet fully comfortable with the technology, she notes, they are opting to experiment with smaller built-in models or countertop versions.
Steam Ovens. "As people try to eat healthier foods, we are seeing more steam ovens being installed in new kitchens," Trivisonno says. Relying solely on super-heated steam to cook foods, these ovens require no fats, oils or other unhealthy additions when preparing a meal. About the size of a microwaveand built into a wall cabinetthese flexible appliances can steam fish and veggies, keep cooked foods warm and moist, and even proof bread dough.
Warming Drawers. "We have seen a big surge in warming drawers over the past few years," Trivisonno says. "These versatile appliances can keep cooked foods warm, proof bread dough, and warm plates and coffee cups." With temperature settings that range from 90 to 250 degrees, the built-in units are priceless when entertaining a crowd as they free up valuable space in the kitchen's main oven.
Wine Fridges. With zones for both red and white wine, a dedicated wine fridge is designed to store your prized bottles at optimal conditions, Trivisonno says. Options run the gamut from freestanding units that hold a single case up to built-in appliances capable of stowing 150 bottles and more. Properly angled shelves, a digital thermostat, UV-protected glass, and even a door lock combine to keep your cellar gems safe.
Beverage Centers. Unlike a wine fridge, a beverage center is a more family-friendly appliance, chilling cans and bottles of juice, soda, water and beer to desired drinking temps. "Homeowners are installing these appliances as close to the living area as possible so the drinks are convenient," Trivisonno says. Some, she adds, are installing them in the family room for the ultimate convenience.
Built-in Coffee Machines. "For somebody who drinks a lot of coffee, these attractive appliances are in high demand," Trivisonno says. "You can literally have a cup of high-quality coffee in your hands within 30 seconds." Installed in a cabinet wall, built-in coffee makers grind, brew and serve hot coffee or espresso with the touch of a button. Those that are not plumbed to a water line rely on a refillable water reservoir. Most also feature frothing systems for cappuccinos and dispense hot water for tea.
Speed Ovens. "Speed ovens have been popular in Europe for some time, but they are just starting to get popular here," Trivisonno says. By combining convection and microwave technology in one appliance, speed ovens can drastically reduce cooking times and home energy consumption. While they may look like a conventional built-in microwave oven, they are far more versatile, able to bake, brown, grill and roast a meal to perfection.