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Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, June 14, 2000



dream, dream, dream

Pretty stuff: Murano glass fixtures, above.

YES, you can have the
kitchen of your dreams

with every high-tech bell and high-gloss
whistle. It'll cook with speed and efficiency,
clean up quick and look like those stainless-
steel jewels you see on Food TV.

All you need is $80,000.


By Betty Shimabukuro


Kitchen designer Joanne Fujita says a check for that amount will cover "every possible luxury you can think of," from flooring to lighting, all appliances, cabinetry and installation.

Was that too much? OK, a mid-range remodeling, with all up-to-date appliances -- $50,000.

Generally, when she gives her clients at Hallmark Kitchen and Bath the numbers, "they turn blue and fall over," Fujita says.

Hot stuff: Gas burners, built-in wok stand and grill
are on top; warming drawer is below. In the background are
a convection-thermal oven and microwave.

"It's kind of frightening to find out what a kitchen really costs, but when you consider all the technology involved, it's really not surprising."

And for a growing number of homeowners, the price is worth paying to make the kitchen the true center of the home.

"They're giving up everything to have a nicer kitchen now," says Jim Byxbee of Homeworks Construction. "They'll cut down on windows or square-footage or air-conditioning, anything to get the kitchen."


The photographs on this page were taken in one couple's dream kitchen, which is open for viewing this weekend and next during the 2000 Building Industry Parade of Homes:

Bullet Cooking demonstration: Sam Choy cooks in the kitchen, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday
Bullet Address: 2248 Aupuni St.
Bullet The kitchen: Appliances are by Viking Range Corp.; the kitchen was remodeled by Homeworks Construction.
Bullet Call: For more information on the Parade of Homes call 847-4666, Ext. 201.

Byxbee has noticed a move over the last five years toward higher-end appliances and custom features, such as Murano glass light fixtures.

"Now that people have exposure to all these TV shows -- on the Food Network and the Home and Gardening Channel -- they want what they see on these programs."

Fujita has noticed an increase in business since the end of last year, which she credits to an improving economy and to increasing numbers of new residents buying homes and remodeling with dot-com wealth. Certain neighborhoods are also reaching the age where remodeling is necessary -- Manoa, for example.

Ninety percent of homeowners, Fujita says, are designing their kitchens with an eye toward resale value. "No matter how functional-minded people are, they still want it beautiful."

The trends of the millennium: Granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances, glass cabinet doors with accent lighting to show off fancy dishes and collectibles. Giant overhead fluorescent lights are out, in favor of a combination of subtle recess lighting, track-lighting, spotlights and task lights to illuminate individual work spaces.

Cool stuff: Wine storage coolers are
a must-have among today's gourmets.

The so-called "commercial grade" look of silvery stainless appliances and even, sometimes, cabinets and counters, has been trendy for several years, thanks again to TV cooking shows.

"I thought that was going to bottom out a couple years ago, but it's continuing to grow," says John Silsby, sales representative for Servco's Kitchen Distribution Center. "It has a look of something that lasts forever."

Silsby says the term is something of a misnomer, as a home appliance is likely to be better in some ways, such as ease of cleaning. "A chef doesn't care how hard it is to clean, because he's got a cook's helper to do it."

The one place where even big spenders often have to compromise is on gas heat, considered the best for a stove top. Many neighborhoods aren't connected to gas and struggling with tanks is too dangerous or too bothersome for the average homeowner. Many condominium buildings and homeowner associations won't allow it anyway.

Pretty stuff: The translucence of glass is a
unique design element in a breakfast counter.

"It's an ordeal for people to get it, so a lot of people end up settling for electricity," Fujita says.

What happens when you really do it right?

John Schofield recently remodeled his Lanikai kitchen for $20,000 (that didn't include appliances; he kept what he had). He's says he learned it is possible to come up with a kitchen that fits your personality.

He's the type of cook who likes everything out of sight when he's not cooking, preferring to keep counters clear for art items he and his wife collect.

Fujita, his designer, recommended an appliance garage. It's tucked in the corner of a countertop with a roll-up door and electrical outlets along the back wall.

Wet stuff: A two-drawer dishwasher
adds flexibility to cleanup.

"My toaster, my food processor and my blender, they're right there," Schofield says. "I use them, I wash them, I put them back in and close the door and they're gone."

He also has four large drawers under the stovetop for pots and pans. "You're looking right down on them, you're not on your knees trying to reach behind the sink."

Schofield says he designed for everyday functionality, but also got a kitchen he loves to look at. Dreams can come true.

"I really believe the kitchen is the heart of the house. Even if it's not the place you want to be, its' usually the place where you are -- with your kids or friends or whatever -- and it should be as pleasant as possible."

The concept:
If you had the money to get anything you wanted in a kitchen, what would you want?

We put the question to kitchen designer Joanne Fujita, homebuilder Jim Byxbee and appliance wholesalers Al Lum of Gene Schick Co. and John Silsby of Servco.

This is a snapshot of what they recommended and some sample prices:

Hot stuff

Bullet Cooktops: Forget about four burners with little drip pans under them. That is soooo last century.

Nowadays the cook-who-has-everything can design a cooktop with mix-and-match components: two burners and a grill; three burners and a built-in wok stand; four burners with a griddle in between; burners with a "bridge" for long pans such as fish steamers.

For easier cleanup, choose a pull-out drip tray, or sealed burners so nothing drips. Grates and such snap apart and go into the dishwasher.

The new ranges have been powered up -- let's say, 30,000 BTU in a Thermador wok burner (your typical home range probably goes up to just 10,000 BTU). But they've also been powered down, so that the simmer level will be truly gentle to your most delicate sauces.

"I can put a paper plate and a layer of chocolate chips on a burner and the plate won't burn but the chips will melt," Al Lum of Gene Schick Co. says about the Viking gas stove he sells. "Simmer is very important in cooking. We excel in simmering."

The portable: Modular components are a European design
idea. Cabinets and shelves can all be taken apart and rearranged. You
can even take them with you when you move. These
components are by SieMatic.

Bullet Ovens: In the dream kitchen, the oven is always independent of the range and is installed at waist level.

It's also a combination convection-thermal oven for more even heating. With this you should be able to bake several racks of cookies at the same time and get the same results in every tray. The Gaggenau model even allows you to bake on the oven floor -- the heating element is sealed below.

Broilers are infrared. Viking has one that will reach 1,500 degrees. "You can caramelize a steak totally and have it ice-blue cold inside," Lum says. Cost for that oven: $2,900.

Bullet The Advantium: The definitive millennium appliance. For $1,800 to $2,000, install one of these babies in place of a regular oven, or in place of a microwave. It does the work of both, with the only shortcoming being that it's not big enough to roast a turkey.

General Electric boasts that the Advantium can roast, grill, broil or bake in 25 percent of the time a conventional oven would take. And unlike a microwave, it browns.

It's also smart: Tell it what kind of meat you're cooking, its weight, thickness and how you want it done, and the oven figures out details like temperature and time. You press the start button and walk away, but not for long -- in the case of a whole roast chicken, for example, 25 minutes. If you open the oven to baste, it'll reset the cooking time to adjust for the drop in heat.

The Advantium is powered by halogen bulbs, and can switch over to microwave -- so you can still pop popcorn.

"To my way of thinking, it's magic -- truly," says Silsby. "It's the first new appliance since the microwave. ... For a homeowner who is remodeling not to even consider this is like buying last year's computer."

The practical: Ideal for tight spaces in
small kitchens is a pull-out pantry,
left. SieMatic

Bullet Exhaust hoods: No. 1, they vent to the outside, not back into the kitchen like common hoods, so they draw smoke and heat out of the room. The motor can be placed outside so the fan isn't so noisy. Filters are ceramic and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Bullet Extras: In that space below the cooktop, where the oven used to be in the old days, install a warming drawer, great if you entertain a lot or if your family eats at staggered times. You can also use the drawer to proof bread. Or install deep wood drawers for pots and pans.

A truly cool extra would be a built-in steamer, installed next to a little prep sink so filling up with water is easy. Steam veggies or cook pasta, lift out the steamer basket (imagine the french-fry basket at McDonald's) and then -- this is the cool part -- push a button and drain the water away. No more carrying pots to the sink. This type of appliance is also available as a deep-fat fryer. The used oil drains into a bin beneath the countertop. Cost for a Gaggenau steamer at Servco, $1,500.

Cold stuff

Bullet Refrigerators: Your dream kitchen can have a refrigerator that is truly built in, flush with the cabinets. It's wider and the shelves aren't so deep, so everything's more accessible. The compressor is on top instead of below and behind, so it can be cleaned and serviced without pulling out the fridge.

Of course, you'll want stainless steel to get that Sub-Zero look. Servco has a 48-inch Monogram absolute deluxe model for $5,800.

Bullet Wine chillers: These are the size of little office refrigerators, but are way more technologically advanced. They allow for storing 50 bottles of wine in precise temperature zones. Humidity is controlled so corks don't dry out, vibration is minimized and they come with glass doors and interior lights to show off your collection.

If you have a lot of wine you can get one tall enough to store 147 bottles. If you have less wine and more, say, beer, some are designed as beverage centers, with both wine racks and shelves for other types of drinks.

Sub-Zero is top-of-the-line here, but other companies such as GE and Viking are also in the game. Expect to spend at least $1,000.

Wet stuff

Bullet Dishwashers: The sleek Fisher & Paykel is a drawer dishwasher that can be installed with one drawer on either side of the sink, up high so there's no bending over. You could also just buy one drawer if you don't dirty a lot of dishes (or three if you do a lot). While the breakfast dishes are washing in one drawer, dirty dinner dishes can be loaded into the other. Two drawers will run about $1,800.

The shortcoming of the drawer design is it can't accommodate the largest items. The Bosch dishwasher, with the more traditional drop-door design, has a removable top rack and no central tower, so you could even fit in oven racks. The heating element is below the floor, so plastics can be placed in the bottom rack. Cost is $ 600 to $1200.

Bullet Faucets: Everyone seems to want the type with a pullout spout that becomes a snake-like sprayer. These allow for easy cleaning of the sink and large pots. KWC and Groke are leading lines. Plan on $400 to $600 per faucet.

Bullet Prep sinks: A second sink -- small but deep and with a disposal -- is frequently positioned near the counter where food will be cut up. Something extra for the cook who can have anything.

Pretty stuff

Bullet Countertops: Granite is in, because it comes directly from nature and it's heat-resistant. But it's also porous and must be sealed every six to 12 months to prevent chemical damage, from spilled wine or lemon juice, for example.

Glass is an up-and-coming item, valued for its translucency and truly unique look. Concrete is growing trendy on the mainland -- especially inset with bits of glass, tiles or shells.

Faux glass or concrete made of an acrylic called Avonite could well be the next wave, as it is less expensive, lighter and easier to work with than the real thing.

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