What’s cooking in kitchens? Simpler styling, hidden appliances and
a bit of color to make life interesting, to name just a few things. If you’re
getting ready to update your kitchen, you may want to pay attention to the
following trends that are popular in kitchen showrooms right now.
Fancy is fading. Kitchens are moving away from ornate looks such
as Tuscan and French country in favor of more transitional design called “simplistic
luxury”. The move toward clean lines and
less ornamentation is due at least in part to homeowners thinking ahead. Many
are looking toward selling their homes as the economy improves, and they want
their kitchens to appeal to a broad range of buyers. Contemporary design is
gaining interest, too – people have become more comfortable with the spare,
sleek look because they’ve been exposed to it through magazines, TV shows and
Eat-in kitchens are still in demand, but where we do that eating
has changed. The bar-style counter remains popular, but it’s giving way in many
new kitchens to an extension of the counter that looks more like a table. Sometimes
the extension is counter height; sometime it’s higher or lower. What sets it
apart from bar seating is that it’s designed so the diners sit around the edge
and face one another, rather than sitting in a line. The idea of trading a
table for a counter extension has advantages: It saves space, the extension can
do double duty as an extra buffet surface and the deep base that holds the
countertop provides a good amount of storage.
Safety and Sustainability
More than ever, consumers are paying attention to the materials
that go into their kitchens. Many respond positively towards cabinet finishes
with low levels of volatile organic compounds – vapors that contribute to
indoor air pollution. They also like cabinets that are joined with dowels
instead of glues containing formaldehyde. Safety features are popular, such as
lockouts that prevent stove burners from being turned on accidentally and
mechanisms that keep drawers and cabinet doors from slamming on little fingers.
And people are leaning toward energy-saving features such as LED
lights, as well as natural products such as wood floors and stone countertops.
Granite is still the top choice for countertops, especially since common types
have become affordable for most people, the designers agreed. But quartz—stone
chips mixed with binders and colorants—is gaining in popularity.
Kitchen lighting isn’t just a matter of function anymore. It’s
also an expression of personality. Hand-blown glass shades on pendant lights,
contemporary drum shades and elegant chandeliers are all ways homeowners can
infuse their style into a kitchen without making a big commitment. After all,
it’s easier and cheaper to change lighting fixtures than it is cabinets or
Layers of light continue to be common in kitchen design—for
example, a ceiling fixture combined with under-counter task lighting and
ambient lights behind a glass-front door. LEDs are finding their way into the
kitchen, mainly in under-counter lighting but also in recessed ceiling lights.
They’re available in both cool and warm lights to fit different decor and
preferences. There is also a big preference for natural lighting via windows
The depth of the typical refrigerator poses a design challenge,
particularly in smaller kitchens. Manufacturers have responded with shallower
appliances and drawer models, which are often used in combination. Counter-depth
refrigerators are easier to fit into a kitchen because they don’t jut out into
the room. But even though they’re often taller, they typically have less
storage space. Some designers are dealing with space shortage by incorporating
drawer refrigerators or freezers into the cabinets to hold additional food. But
this kind of arrangement makes sense only when the drawer holds foods that are
used mostly in a particular part of the kitchen—for example, a drawer for
vegetables next to the sink where they’re cleaned and prepared.
Bars are coming out of the great room and into the kitchen. Many homeowners
are requesting bar areas in the kitchen where they can store everything in one
convenient spot. Bar cabinets that look like pantries are popular as well.
Often they’re outfitted with a wine or beverage refrigerator; storage space for
glassware, knives and a cutting board; and sometimes a sink.
Most homeowners still tend toward the safe and neutral in their
kitchen’s more permanent items—cupboards, countertops and flooring. But that
doesn’t mean kitchens can’t be colorful and walls can sport bold hues such as
persimmon or pomegranate. Accessories
and appliances bring spots of color, such as a range with colored knobs, or
working in a colorful painted cabinet among white or natural wood cabinets to
add a bit of interest. Window seats are making a comeback, which provide the
opportunity to add color in the form of fabric. Upholstered seats, pillows and
window valances all add a bit of color and softness, which are often lacking in
a room filled mostly with hard surfaces.
But regardless of the latest kitchen trends; a kitchen’s design
should suit the individual. Kitchens are places where we spend a lot of time,
so it’s more important to have what you like, not what’s popular. As long as it
is in good taste, remodel your kitchen with what makes you happy being in your
kitchen. And invite me to dinner when you are done!