10/03/2013 12:55 EDT | Updated 12/03/2013 05:12 EST

Creative homeowners incorporate designs of past in modern kitchens

VICTORIA - Kitchens are a unique space in a home in that they serve both a function as well as a space to entertain. And with advances in home design, kitchens also can serve as art pieces.

Max Huxley, owner and head contractor of Victoria's Maximilian Huxley Construction Ltd., transforms a lot of spaces through home renovations and recently won a 2013 gold CARE award for the open-concept kitchen Marine View.

"It was a house built in the '80s with very compartmentalized rooms, as they were back then," said Huxley.

"There were these beautiful views, so we opened up the whole house so all the principal rooms have a view, which meant we had to have a completely open plan."

An open plan meant considering the esthetic appeal of the kitchen. Huxley incorporated a contemporary concept for the space, including a unique backsplash that features the spectacular ocean views.

Creating distinct spaces without closing the rooms off was necessary in the design and layout of the kitchen.

"With the kitchen we created two islands," said Huxley. "One was a buffet-style island that separated the dining area from the kitchen, but serves as a functional space but also an art piece that is all walnut. The island itself is between there and the main counter."

Even though each home owner has his or her own requests for their kitchen, Huxley said a few items have become staples in a modern kitchen.

According to Huxley, 10 years ago solid-surface countertops like granite or cultured stone were considered a luxury, but now they are standard in most kitchens.

"You don't hear of anything else anymore," he said. "Everyone feels they have to do it for resale. Even people doing lower-end places are finding it hard because they need that element in their renovations to make it a standard product and that is a significant cost."

While many appliances and elements of the kitchen have modernized, Lindsay Gilmour, certified chef and kitchen designer with Victoria's Urbana Kitchens, said there are homeowners who are looking to designs of the past for inspiration.

Fans of "Mad Men," for example, want to incorporate mid-century design into their 2013 home.

"Everyone wants a Don Draper kitchen," said Gilmour. "Even my elderly clients who would normally be drawn to a traditional, soft design are really interested in a flat, slab look and the mixing of paints with warm wood tones. Old woods are coming back, like walnut, teak and mahogany.

"People are becoming more creative with different types of wood applications, but everyone likes the soft tones with the wood tones."

Meanwhile, other homeowners are adding extravagant touches to their kitchens.

According to Gilmour, she has had requests for forno and pizza ovens and some homeowners are finding innovative ways to get a TV in the kitchen.

"I actually designed a traditional-looking hood cover for a flat-screen TV to be mounted on it," she said. "More and more people are putting their own flavours and tastes into their kitchen. People are putting two dishwashers into a kitchen or multitudes of ovens and warming drawers.

"It is becoming the place that you want to hang out in with easy accessibility to your favourite cooking methods."