Peter Deane has seen his share of homeowners who have installed high-tech systems like Savant, which allow people to control web-enabled devices throughout a house at the touch of a tablet screen.
As for the tablet itself? Increasingly, homeowners are making room for it at what for many people is the command bunker of household operations — the kitchen — and designers and architects are taking note.
In its most recent American Institute of Architects survey published in April and focused on kitchen and bath trends, AIA members indicated LED lighting was the most popular new kitchen feature with a score of 88 percent, calculated by subtracting the percentage of architects who have seen a decrease in their inclusion from those who have seen increased use.
Making the biggest gain, however, was the inclusion of space or infrastructure for computers, tablets and charging stations. Whereas 37 percent of AIA members indicated in 2013 their kitchen designs incorporated electronic apparatuses, that figure swelled last year to 50 percent, the biggest year-over-year gain of a dozen design criteria included in the survey.
That smarter-kitchen infrastructure can range from the simple addition of a USB-outlet to carving out an entire workstation in space once the province of cabinetry or a broom closet.
“In terms of the simple, there clearly has been a high demand for charging stations,” said Peter Deane, owner of the kitchen and cabinetry dealer Deane Inc., which has showrooms in Stamford and New Canaan. “They can be as simple as just being (integrated) in the backsplash, or we can integrate them into drawers.”
Deane Inc. has also helped its clients with recesses more akin to a small office station within the kitchen’s confines.
As evidence of the increased attention being paid to the concept, the website Houzz.com currently has more than 250 photos posted of ideas for kitchen workstations created by homeowners who use the residential real estate website, with Pinterest also having an extensive collection of examples posted online by its members.
With social media entrenched in many people’s lives, and smartphones and tablets allowing cooks to call up recipes or even control web-enabled kitchen appliances, the need for charging stations is extending to the kitchen island, allowing people to remain in the center of things in the kitchen while they interact with family and friends.
Built-in drinking water filtration systems were the only other emerging kitchen feature to register a double-digit percentage gain on the survey.
“The major point of emphasis in kitchen design nowadays revolves less around actual cooking activities,” said Kermit Baker, chief economist of AIA, in a statement accompanying the survey.”
Rather, homeowners are looking for kitchens that are gathering spots for family and entertaining, as well as serving as a hub for electronic devices and recharging stations.”
A single plug won’t cut it for too much longer.
“Kitchens have become … what I like to refer to as ‘command central,’” said Chad Nehring, principal of Nehring + Associates Architecture in Danbury. “Clients have often voiced how important these areas have become in the dunning and daily operations of their homes and lives. With so much going on for families these days, it’s a fantastic place to have everything in one central, accessible location.”
Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-964-2236; www.twitter.com/casoulman