More than nearly any other room, the kitchen—unquestionably the heart of our homes—continues to evolve as a personal expression and reflection of our lifestyles. These days, we socialize and work in our kitchens as often as we cook in them. In the process, we are reimagining how we dine and entertain, while expressing ourselves through our design choices.
Over the past two decades, a stylish kitchen was inevitably spare and white, with stainless-steel appliances. Today, many of us have come to view this stark approach to kitchen design as cold and impersonal.
Fortunately, we’ve moved on. Finally, this year’s “hot” kitchen trends include exploring our individuality, embracing natural materials and resurrecting timeless design elements—all which warms this architect’s classically-leaning heart.
Trend 1: Connecting to Nature
Photo by Tricia Shay Photography
More and more homeowners are electing to use natural materials in order to create relaxing, earth-centered spaces. Bringing nature inside the home provides a form of grounded energy. And as open kitchens expand into our living spaces, cabinets are trending toward warm woods with beautiful graining.
Natural wood cabinetry feels more furniture-like, and so it feels more seamless to combine living and dining areas in the same space. Depending on your personal style, you might choose lighter woods (such as beech, ash, or oak) or rich, darker woods (like teak or walnut). There is no wrong choice.
Countertops are not merely neutral and utilitarian, either. Rather, we are using rich stone and quartz, in more dramatic patterns and colors, not to mention unique veining.
Some adventurous homeowners are turning to handmade products, such as artisan tiles, to add flair and texture. For example, Zellige tiles make a lively alternative to now-ubiquitous subway tiles.
Trend 2: Adding a Warm, Playful Touch
Photo by Melichar Architects, Interiors by Melichar Architects & Interior Design Partnership
Say goodbye to flat, monochromatic kitchens. Today, we are adding layers of color, textures, and finishes, in warm tones with bold pops of color.
Organic, saturated colors are particularly popular. Inky blues, dark forest green, and charcoal greys provide a timeless rather than trendy feel, and these colors pair well with classic furnishings, natural accents, and transitional cabinet lines.
Earth tones and rustic landscape colors are also trending: rich browns, saffron yellows, and terracotta, often paired with warm neutrals, such as beiges and off-whites.
For those who must have a white kitchen, the look lives on, but in a softer, warmer form. We are finding that neutrals like creamy whites and warm greys—rather than stark whites—are now used for establishing the structure of the kitchen. Furthermore, they’re brightened by playful accent colors: bright yellows, oranges, and reds, for example, that make beautiful touches on islands, in backsplash tiles, and even appliances. Prefer more subtle, better-integrated color pops? Consider dusty blues, greens, and pinks for a more muted effect.
Trend 3: Layering on the Detail
For years, the kitchen was ignored as a design feature of our homes. Now, we are approaching the design of our kitchens like any other living spaces—which means incorporating the techniques of interior layering.
Let’s start with kitchen cabinetry, which sets the overall feel of the room. From decorative toe kicks and “feet” on cabinet bases to armoire-styled cupboards, we’re seeing more furniture-like cabinetry detail.
Photo by Melichar Architects
For example, we’re now employing floor-to-ceiling cabinets to conceal small appliances like coffee machines and microwave ovens. In-door fabric and metal mesh panels, as well as stained glass, are back. Large appliances are often paneled to match the cabinets, too.
In order to make kitchens homier, we’re downplaying hoods—once a focal point, now they are simply stated. The trend: drywall and plaster hoods that blend into the walls, as well as hoods that continue the wood cabinetry look.
We’re mixing perimeter and island countertop materials, as well as backsplashes. Large stone slabs, textured tile, and even antique mirror are popular choices.
More homeowners are layering patterns and textures over the main room color through their choice of furnishings and window treatments. Popular choices include natural linens, vegan leathers, performance chenille, and elegant-yet-cozy embroidered cushions.
Now, we’re using metals and glass like fine touches of jewelry, including accents of gold, antique brass, matte black, vintage copper, and even painted steel. Mixing metals in one space can create a rich, inviting look.
As for above, light fixtures are also making a statement. Although recessed lighting is still a mainstay in kitchens for its functionality, we’re seeing more decorative lighting that mixes metals, varieties of glass, and even shade styles together.
And down below: wood flooring choices are trending, as they seamlessly meld the kitchen into the adjacent entertaining spaces. Popular choices include long planks that elongate and enlarge the feel of a space, plus area rugs that define our dining areas, while adding overall warmth.
Finally, we’re adding personal touches that give our kitchens unique personalities—a reflection of our ourselves. For example, open shelving is a wonderful way to display special collections and artwork, while bringing depth and interest to functional areas.
Add it all up, and there’s just one conclusion: now is a wonderful time to update your kitchen. Gone are the days of cold, cookie-cutter kitchen design. Make it warm, make it natural, make it functional—but most of all, make it your own.
Photo by Tricia Shay Photography