It might be fair to say that part of adulthood is spending a lot of your time in the kitchen. From cleaning, cooking, stocking and informal gathering, the kitchen really is the heart of the home.
So it makes sense that kitchens are also the room that should showcase your style most.
We caught up with local kitchen connoisseurs to tell us about the latest trends to help you do just that. In the current real estate market, with its ballooning home prices, "people aren't worried about resale so much anymore, and they want to be bold with their kitchens," says Tracee Murphy of Trademark Interior Design.
Here's what the pros are seeing.
Scaling Back on Open Shelves
They're still popular, but designers are seeing a reduction.
"We used to do open shelving around a whole kitchen, but now it's one around the cooktop area for oils or spices," says Murphy.
"Open shelving looks good, but it's subject to dust and oil from cooking and needs more cleaning. It's form versus function," adds David Asher of Eurotech Cabinetry.
When Brittany Cocozza of Trinity Design does see open shelving these days, it's often with metal tubing "for a more custom look," she says.
Bye-Bye, All-White Everything
Hello, inky blacks, elegant blues and natural grain finishes.
"We're seeing neutrals with pops of matte black," says Cocozza. Dark colors are grounding and add a bold accent to kitchens. Matte black stains that let the grain come through are also popular.
Natural wood finishes are earthy and welcoming; Cocozza adds that right now, walnut finishes with the grain on display are trending.
For a lighter palette, Asher says rift white oak showcases a very straight grain pattern.
Dude, Where’s Your Fridge?
Peek-a-boo appliances like paneled fridges give kitchens a more custom, soft finish, "so it doesn't scream 'kitchen' so much with those items hidden away," says Scott Mullet, third-generation owner of Mullet's Appliances.
He's also seeing new finishes like white matte and black stainless with a high shine, that pop against bronze hardware.
Stainless steel still rules most appliance finishes, but within the last 2 years, there’s been a grab for more colors and even a matte white finish, often paired with bronze handles. He's also seeing black stainless appliances with a metal grain look, its shiny like stainless is.
Mullet is busy with coffee maker installations that get plumbed right into the home, saving valuable countertop space. "They'll even grind the whole beans for it for you and make frothed milk for a cappuccino," he says.
Oven hoods: Statement piece or Hideaway?
Mullet still sees a commitment to stainless steel hoods, but sometimes clients find them too high up and difficult to clean. That's when opting for the hideaway type, beneath an overhead cabinet, is more efficient, and modern.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some homeowners use the hood as a statement piece, like the black one, pictured above, which was custom-made by Trademark Interior Design to pop against white cabinets and showcase a one-of-a-kind design.
Merging Backsplashes and Countertops
"No one wants to see grout lines," Asher says. Plus, "a seamless path from countertop to backsplash is easy to clean and has a polished look," he adds.
As for the material, Murphy is using lots of quartz, marble and natural stone. "Quartz is trending high, but we're starting to do more marble because we have better sealants for it now and people are embracing the imperfections and even the stains it can pick up over time," she says. "People see it as adding charm."
Knocking over the water bowl with an errant foot comes with pet owner territory. But new kitchen designs are incorporating bowls into nooks beneath a countertop overhang, or in a low pull-out drawer. Some are even adding plumbing for a forever full water bowl.
"Most of our clients are moving away from a double sink to a large single sink with attachments like a grill in the bottom. Some have cutting boards or salad dishes incorporated into them for extra food prep space," says Asher.
Asher says cabinets with channels instead of pull hardware are the chic option. "Now we're doing them where the channel matches the cabinets—or you can do a contrast too, with something like oak," he explains.
Islands Are Here to Stay
Because of Covid, "we're seeing kitchens as mixed-use spaces, due to the need to use every inch of the home," says Murphy. "Families are homeschooling and using the kitchen for homework and remote work stations, but it's also doubling as a lounge area, so people want more comfortable bar chairs."
Another design element ushered in by Covid that's here to stay is automation, says Mullet. "Wave your hand" faucets and appliances that you can program are in—for example, a water dispenser on a fridge that delivers exactly 8 oz. so you don't have to use a measuring cup.
Overall, all experts agree, new kitchen trends are embracing a homeowner's personality through bold use of bold color and texture—and high performance and efficiency is always in.