Kitchens on Trend
Fresh design concepts that kick up the style and function in today’s well-appointed kitchens
Photo courtesy of Bradford & Kent
Consistently one of the most-sought remodeling projects, the kitchen is the room used most frequently by the whole family. Though that’s nothing new, today’s kitchen is playing an even greater role in the home, providing both an everyday eating space and a hub for entertaining, as the traditional formal dining room continues to disappear.
“People are getting rid of the full dining room in favor of having one big gathering space within the kitchen,” says Alicia Saso, senior designer for Drury Design in Glen Ellyn. “This has been happening, and it will be happening even more.”
“It’s the true ‘heart of the home,’” agrees Sue McDowell, owner of McDowell Remodeling in St. Charles, “and is now seeing activities beyond cooking and eating, including socializing, relaxing, reading a book, studying, and entertaining. It’s often an extension into the other areas of the home.”
If kitchen remodeling plans are in your future or on your wish list, read on for a look at some of the hottest trends that local remodelers and designers say will help make this hard-working room shine in the coming year.
Colorful Cabinetryand Appliances
Though most local designers expect classic whites and the recently favored shades of gray to continue as staples in kitchen cabinetry, deeper colors are returning. “Whether glossy, matte or textured, black is gaining popularity in millennial and boomer kitchens,” says Ted Kawczynski, president of The Kitchen Master in Naperville, noting that blue is also making an appearance. “While navy and cobalt blue have been featured in islands and wall accents for the last few years, lighter blues with just hints of grey will gain popularity in the next year or two for those looking for a painted kitchen cabinet.”
Laura Barber, a designer for Normandy Remodeling in Hinsdale, has noted a gravitation toward jewel tones, such as navy blue or emerald green. For those hesitant to commit to a splashy hue for all of their cabinetry, Barber says using color to highlight accent pieces is a popular choice. “Not everyone is bold enough to do their whole kitchen in such a strong color, but they may use a quieter, more traditional color for the perimeter and do the island or a hutch in a vibrant color,” she says.
Tara Soderstrom, director of marketing and client relations for DesignFirst Builders in Itasca, says that most homeowners are opting for more than one color, such as adding a bright red or dark gray island amid white perimeter cabinets. “Some people are using up to three colors,” she says. “People are really into mixing and matching.”
Cabinetry is not the only kitchen item seeing a brighter outlook. Stainless steel and black or dark stainless options continue to be popular choices for appliances, but some see standout selections on the horizon.
“We are seeing more and more bold and brightly colore the primary colors — from canary yellow hoods to red range tops and even turquoise refrigerators,” says Kawczynski. “While these new colors may never hit the mid-price mainstream kitchens, due to their exclusivity to the highest priced appliance lines, using these stunning colors for a few cabinets, wall tile and other accents will certainly become a trend that will last.”
Return to Rusticity with Wood Accents
Especially evident in the popular farmhouse look, pairing natural wood with neutral painted finishes is an alternative to adding interest through color. Distressed and reclaimed woods are in vogue for everything from flooring to island accents, shelving and even ceilings. “Wood provides a striking contrast to any paint color and adds age and character to any kitchen,” says Rob Quigley, co-owner of Bradford & Kent in Downers Grove.
Though the oak cabinets of the 1980s and 1990s aren’t coming back in, durable hardwood is seeing a resurgence. “Oak is back — plain-sawn and quarter-sawn, cut to enhance the grain with a textured sandblasted finish,” says Cheryl Daugvila, owner of Cheryl D. & Co. in La Grange. “The tactile effect of sandblasting the oak gives us the opportunity to pop it visually with slight glazes that range from silver, pewter and basic black.”
Dan McFadden, president of PB Kitchen Design in Geneva, says that light, natural oak has been popular with his clients. “Not with a yellowish tone, but more with a raw or bleached look,” he says.
Patty Rosignal, owner of River Oak Cabinetry & Design in Plainfield, has seen a similar increase in requests for woods with visible grain.
“We’re seeing more interest in textured woods, such as walnut and rift-cut oak,” she says. If you love the rustic wood look but are unsure whether it will be a longtime favorite, incorporate it into your kitchen via features that are easy to change, such as shelving or a dining table.
Fab Finishes — Gold and Matte Black
When it comes to kitchen fixtures, lighting and hardware, say goodbye to satin nickel and go for the gold — such as satin brass, brushed bronze or other warm gold tones. “People are embracing golds and gold tones for both plumbing and light fixtures,” says Barber. “It has made a huge resurgence, even for those who like a classic white kitchen and marble countertops. Gold tends to soften that look, to take away starkness of space and bring a little warmth to it.”
If gold isn’t your taste, look to the dark side and embrace matte black, which is also currently trending and can be tied in with farmhouse, traditional and contemporary styles.
Perhaps you favor more than one type of metal — you adore your stainless-steel appliances, but love the gold trend. If that’s the case, take heart — mixing metals can give your room added interest. Quigley offers the following advice for pulling it off: “Try mixing only two to three metals that are guaranteed to work well together. Rather than trying to equally distribute different metals, choose a dominant metal and use the rest as accents. Separate metals by height. For instance, use one metal for lighting fixtures and another for cabinet hardware. Or, use the same metal for faucets and another one for mirrors.”
Tuned in to Technology
In today’s kitchen, technology is all about ease of use and functionality. “Including technology in the kitchen is a continuous trend and one that is constantly evolving,” says Saso, noting that some appliances now offer connectivity with smart phone apps, which allow for things like preheating the oven, controlling the lighting or alerting you when your dinner is finished cooking.
“Controlling appliances via your phone and being able to check the contents of your refrigerator when you are away from home are some of the ways technology is coming to the kitchen,” says Rosignal.
Even cabinet manufacturers are including places for technology, such as built-in charging stations for phones, tablets and virtual assistants. Appliances are being incorporated into cabinetry to free up counter space, including in-island microwaves and mixers on mechanical lifts.
Convenience and luxury appliances, such as beverage coolers, built-in coffee systems and convection steam ovens are also common requests. “Steam ovens are hot and healthy, and we are seeing the elimination of microwaves when
a steam oven is incorporated into the plan. There is definitely a trend towards healthy cooking at home,” says Daugvila.
That said, many remodelers and designers have observed homeowners becoming more selective about the technology and appliances in their kitchens, choosing only items that they know they will use. The key is finding technology that helps enhance family life rather than adding another layer of complexity.
Transitional design is here to stay, especially in the kitchen. “Simple sophistication is my favorite description for the strongest trends happening right now,” says Daugvila. “The world is crazy and home is sanctuary.”
Cabinets and hardware are trending toward a straightforward look. “Most remodeled kitchens today feature clean lines, built-in appliances, simple door styles, streamlined hardware, and not too much elaborate adornment in the trim and details,” says McDowell.
“We’re seeing more simple door styles, such as a slab front or Shaker door,” says Saso, who also notes that massive range hoods with ornate decoration such as corbels are being replaced by smaller, sleeker pieces that might be set off with
a different finish.
In keeping with a simplified look, today’s homeowners seek to be organized and avoid clutter, especially since the kitchen has become a focus for entertaining. Manufacturers continue to come up with ways to pack function into drawers and cupboards, which allows for a high level of customization and personalization.
Beyond cabinetry, other kitchen components, such as countertops and backsplashes, are also heading toward a cleaner aesthetic. McFadden says that while subway tile remains timeless, one-piece slab backsplashes are coming into play. For those who still like the subway look, updates include the use of larger-format tiles and the reduction or elimination of grout lines between tiles for a cleaner appearance.
Quartz has become the new favorite for kitchen countertops due to its consistent appearance, durability and the variety of colors and patterns available. “Many of the new quartz countertops mimic the look of natural substances, with subtle veins and striations that give the material some movement,” says Quigley.
Though he’s observed that quartz is “very hot,” especially white and marble styles, McFadden sees other materials making a splash in the future: “Looks that mimic concrete are coming on the scene, and porcelain slabs will be making a name in the next few years.”
Similar to the personalization seen in cabinetry, homeowners are getting creative with counters and backsplashes, sometimes choosing different materials, colors or patterns for different areas of the kitchen. “They are mixing and matching materials that complement each other,” says Soderstrom, noting one client who chose white backsplash tile for most of the kitchen and stainless steel tile for the beverage center, where it complements industrial-style open shelving.
Open Shelving and Cabinets
Instead of wall-to-wall cabinets, kitchen designers are bringing more variation to the walls above the kitchen workspace by replacing at least a few cabinets with open shelving for utilitarian items, such as dishes, cups, bowls, to collections of crockery or cookbooks.
“From barn board to sleek dark laminates and even industrial steel, floating shelves, heavily bracketed shelves and open cabinets held together by plumbing pipes, these will become a sought-after feature for those seeking something unique and imaginative,” says Kawczynski.
“Open shelves can make your kitchen look more spacious,” says Quigley. “When done right, open shelving does double-duty as both storage and decor. It can create a brand-new look for things you already own.”
This look is not for everyone, though, and Saso offers an alternative: eliminate a wall cabinet or two and have an open space on the wall where you can display artwork or another accent. “It’s a nice break from the monotony (of continuous cabinetry), but without being overwhelming,” she says.Edit Module