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The New Living Room

Tips for Making the Kitchen More Livable

Today's kitchen is far more than a place to cook. It's a space where families and friends eat, converse, work, relax and entertain. Mathieu Sabbagh, director of cooking for Siemens Home Appliances, sees the kitchen evolving into the focal point of the home. "It needs to be both functional and aesthetically appealing," he says.

Sabbagh, who is instrumental in the design of Siemens products, is a fan of the communal kitchen. His home kitchen houses a 96-inch wooden table with benches on either side to accommodate as many friends as possible at the large casual dinner parties he loves to throw. Here, he shares a few tips for making the heart of the home a place you and yours can love:

  • No man is an island, but in the kitchen, everyone likes to gather around one. The ideal livable kitchen has a center island of some sort, so that cooking and socializing converge. Pull up a few barstools or tall director's chairs, and let the chopping – and the conversation begin. A large table is a good alternative, and it multi-tasks as a home or office work surface.
  • If they're good, you look good. Choose appliances that have clean lines, are easy to use and make you more successful (and relaxed) as a cook. Sabbagh is partial to the xTronic™ convection range from Siemens, which "has all the great features anyone could ever need in a 30-inch range ... and it's very easy to clean."
  • See but don't hear. Look for appliances that are quiet. It's hard to carry on a conversation or listen to music over the din of a loud dishwasher. The Siemens hiDefinition™ Dishwasher has a soundCheck™ system for super-quiet performance.
  • Include objects of affection. Make your kitchen a personal space. Use color and accent the space with favorite objects. Display your collection of pitchers or vintage cocktail shakers or baskets. Don't be afraid to mix sleek stainless-steel appliances with a warmer palette of wood cabinetry and flooring, or with marble or granite countertops.
  • Stay well-connected. For a kitchen to be truly livable, it needs connections – computer with high-speed Internet access (a great way to access a recipe quickly) and a TV (so you can watch the news or cook along with Alton Brown). Even small spaces can accommodate a small wall-mounted television, although the pop-up flat screen ones are nice!
  • Let there be light. Make sure the workspaces in the kitchen are attractively and adequately lit. Experiment with area and "mood" lighting just as you would in a living room. Small table lamps, hanging lamps, torchieres and sconces can all add a lot of character and make the space seem warm and inviting.
  • If music be the food of love... Bring your favorite music into the kitchen with a small CD player or by wall-mounting stereo speakers or even by playing iTunes on your computer. It makes cooking more festive, clean-up more fun and draws your guests in.
  • Add a children's corner. If you have the space, consider devoting a corner of your kitchen to child's play. Have a small table and chairs and storage bins for toys, art supplies, etc.

Above all, says Sabbagh, create a kitchen that is functional for the cook or cooks, comfortable enough to hang out in and a reflection of your personal style. For basic guidelines on planning your kitchen space, visit the National Kitchen and Bath Association's Web site. Siemens Home Appliances are available at Best Buy in the United States and Future Shop stores throughout Canada.

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