Seven Design Trends Heating Up Kitchens

February 15, 2019

Kitchens are the hub of the household, where people tend to gather to eat and socialize. Because of the cost and amount of work involved, remodeling isn’t an every-year project. It’s important to think hard about your client’s habits, needs and lifestyle, as well as how well the kitchen will look in the years ahead.

Amy Ahearn of Decorating Den Interiors of Williamsburg, Va.; Gloria Graham Sollecito of West Palm Beach, Fla.–based Artful Kitchens; and Susan Serra of Huntington, N.Y.-based Susan Serra Associates recently discussed what their clients are looking for and what trends may lie ahead.

What’s cooking? Multi-function and healthy options. Remodelers want options when it comes to cooking. “More than one oven is practically de rigueur in the higher-end home,” said Ahearn. “You must have two ovens, if only for two holidays a year.”

The homeowner’s choice in major cooking appliances depends on their cooking habits, according to Serra. “Those who do light cooking want value and reliability first and foremost,” she said. “Those who cook regularly may be more concerned with pure function or both aesthetics and function.”

Stainless still leads, but black stainless shows life: “Stainless steel, like white kitchen cabinetry, has been a key player in kitchen design since the late eighties,” said Serra. “That’s staying power, compared to many trends in kitchen design that have come and gone.” But traditional stainless isn’t the only finish catching the eye of remodelers. Ahearn says black stainless is popular with younger clients, and Serra reports that dark gray, black and charcoal stainless finishes have come on strong in the last few years.

Paneling: While appliance finishes are an important contributor to a kitchen’s look, many homeowners opt to conceal their appliances with paneling. “The larger trend in kitchen design is to look less utilitarian and more connected to surrounding rooms,” said Serra. “Appliance panels allow small kitchens to have a visual flow, which helps make the kitchen look a little more spacious and less busy.”

Zoned refrigeration: Zoned refrigeration and smaller refrigerators reserved for certain types of food or drinks have been a trend for several years and will continue to be popular. The trend is breaking out of the kitchen, where many homeowners prefer the refrigerator to store fresh produce as well as beverages, said Serra. Some are putting refrigerators into master bedrooms, family rooms, rental suites and spa areas.

Beverage stations: Various types of beverages are getting the royal treatment during kitchen remodels. “People are incorporating coffee stations, and they are very serious about it,” said Ahearn. How they go about it depends on their budget. Higher-end designs might be plumbed or built-in with restaurant-grade espresso machines. The trend goes beyond coffee and extends to smoothies and wine, of course.

Connected features are slowly showing up:  The designers reported mixed levels of interest in connected kitchens. Ahearn sees some interest among her younger clients. “They want to be able to control their appliances from their smart phone,” she said. “Their refrigerator tells them what to buy. They want to be able to turn on the oven and set it to a certain temperature and time or tell when the oven is on and they’re not home so they can turn it off.”

Portable storage: You’ll want to incorporate into your new kitchen easy access to the portable appliances you use regularly, and the popularity of portable appliances like Instant Pot, Vitamix and air fryers makes portable-friendly design elements a must. “A shallow pantry that sits on the countertop may be ‘home’ to several small appliances,” said Serra. “A separate tall cabinet just for small appliances and equipment in lower drawers can be a featured furniture design.”

The original version of this article can be found on the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers’ blog.