Covid-19 forced new thinking about current kitchen design trends. This is because working from home, remote learning, and homeschooling are on the rise.
Taking a hard look at current kitchen trends
The kitchen has always been the heart of the home. But now that we are all spending so much more time at home, the role of the kitchen in our lives is coming into an even sharper focus.
More than ever, the kitchen has become a multitasking and multi-function space. It is now home HQ.
Of course, the kitchen is cooking central. But it is also a gathering place, a place for school homework; perhaps a place for Zoom classes; or Zoom happy hour with friends. It may also be our home office or home school. And it may double as a family room.
So we need to explore ways to accommodate all these activities efficiently, without losing the traditional kitchen function. And we want to do all this without sacrificing comfort, losing storage space, or compromising style.
With all this in mind, we should take a hard look for useful clues in what is trending around us. We need to evaluate what we might adopt as being helpful, and what we should ignore.
To this end, we’ll look at the kitchen space, kitchen function, lighting, technology, appliances, storage solutions, and style.
The open concept kitchen space
It seems that the open-concept floor plan has fallen out of favor in current kitchen design trends. This is because, with the close-quarters activities forced on us by Covid-19, people want to be able to segregate, for example, the office Zoom conference call from the kids’ Zoom class.
But we would say, “Not so fast.” The open-concept kitchen/dining room/family room has too much going for it than to discard it out of hand. It would be a shame to sacrifice it for the Covid-19 conditions that we all hope are temporary.
Rather, we suggest a continuing embrace of the open floor plan concept. But at the same time, look at incorporating room dividers and privacy screens into the layout. They can be folding screens or sliding screens.
One could use the traditional translucent Japanese Shoji screen. Or you might try room dividers that incorporate shelving as bracing devices. Images
These can easily provide for functional privacy but at the same time maintain open space and light around and above them. Moreover, for future flexibility, they are only temporary.
Bring the outdoors in
There is nothing that enhances the kitchen mood more than bringing the outdoors in. Here are just a few ideas: images
- Enlarge the window over your kitchen sink to bring in more natural light and for a better view of your yard.
- Add a skylight.
- Add oversized glass or French doors, opening onto the patio or yard if possible.
- Install a greenhouse or garden window over the kitchen sink. Grow your herbs there for fun, usefulness, and an added connection to nature. It’s a nice biophilic touch.
- Find a place for large houseplants.
- Incorporate natural stone, wood, texture, and fiber into your decorative scheme.
Incorporating technology trends
These days smart kitchens incorporate technology in everything from appliances to lighting to plumbing fixtures.
Many new kitchens are being built from scratch to harness technology. But it is just as easy to retrofit existing kitchens with sensors and smart devices.
And talking of smart devices, don’t forget to incorporate charging stations for your phones and tablets. You can provide them strategically in a drawer or on a counter.
It is easy to install kitchen faucets that sense the presence of hands for activation or are simply one-touch. Some of them are voice-activated.
A hands-free faucet is perfect if you have raw chicken or other meat on your hands and do not want to contaminate your faucet handle.
And when it comes to lighting, this can now be controlled from your smartphone.
Area, task, and accent lighting
Unfortunately, there is a persistent trend that ignores the basics of lighting. And proper lighting is essential to a properly functioning kitchen.
Elsewhere on this site, we cover lighting in some detail. But basically, so long as you have the principles of area, task, and accent lighting covered, the choice of fixture is entirely up to you.
But now, with the introduction into the kitchen of new functions, such as homeschooling, there is an additional task lighting consideration.
Circadian lighting trend
Circadian lighting is a little-acknowledged emerging trend. When retrofitting your kitchen lighting, don’t pass up on installing circadian rhythm lighting.
With so many of the family now using the multifunction kitchen, there are more people to benefit from this new LED lighting technology.
Organization and storage in current kitchen design trends
In a multipurpose kitchen, with everyone clamoring for space, organization is paramount and storage is at a premium. Here are some kitchen storage trends to consider:
- Pullout cabinets.
- Wastebasket pull-outs.
- Lazy Susans in corner cabinets.
- Freestanding pantry cabinets. These are much more economical than the built-in version, to say nothing of moveability.
- Utensil organizers.
- Built-in wine bar. This is a must-have for the true multi-function kitchen.
- Wine rack storage to utilize space at the end of a kitchen island.
- Under-counter wine coolers.
- Toe-kick drawers for pet feeding.
- Banish all countertop clutter to cabinets.
- Conceal small appliances. Consider using appliance hutches to avoid countertop clutter.
Appliances and technology in current kitchen design trends
Look for these trends. Some are better established than others. We have discussed some of them in detail elsewhere on this site and have provided links.
- Consider adding a combination convection/microwave oven.
- Consider a steam oven – a fast and healthy way to cook but currently very pricey compared to a regular oven.
- We like drawer microwaves. They fit our Universal Design philosophy.
- We like drawer dishwashers for the same Universal Design reason.
- We like french door wall ovens.
- The multicooker is the best countertop cooking appliance since the microwave oven and the toaster before that.
- Wine coolers.
- Check out refrigerators with smart technology that will track your food inventory.
- Bluetooth allows your appliances to sync their timing and lets you control everything from a distance.
- Look for hands-free, WiFi, and Alexa/Google integration in kitchen faucets. We mentioned hands-free faucets earlier.
- Look for finger touch and swipe controls rather than knobs.
- Vacuum sealers built-in to your cabinetry.
- Of course, automatic coffee and tea makers are old school at this point. But there is always something new trending in this area.
Pay attention to ventilation. Make sure your range hood fans and extractor fans are properly sized. And consider downdraft extraction.
Kitchen style trends
In reviewing the style element of current kitchen design trends, we offer these observations.
The transitional or hybrid style of kitchen decoration seems to be in the vogue. And we support this. It will never go out of style. Purity or fussiness of style has no place in a multi-function kitchen with multiple generations present from time to time.
Of course, when we come to discussing style, we are discussing personality. And we are not ones to prejudge anyone’s preference here. Although we do comment below when we can’t resist.
We come to our observations as practical, hard-core remodelers with real estate and construction backgrounds. We have frequently had to save our clients from the excesses of ditsy decorators.
Now, we are not here to pronounce on the design style and preference you should adopt. But we will say that you should resist getting sucked into adopting some faddy or trendy style that you may regret.
While we can’t cover everything, here are some things to consider when it comes to style.
A wealth of finish materials is available in paint, tile, stone, wood, and metal. And all of them have applications in the design of a kitchen. We rule nothing out but urge moderation in the application.
Trendy designers are scoffing at the classic white kitchen. But we like it because it will never go out of style and it is so easy to personalize with your own touches in backsplashes, countertops, and flooring. These can introduce feelings of earthiness that will complement the white.
But you should certainly avoid the “all-white” kitchen. It’s hard on the eyes. Imagine cooking in a blizzard!
Black kitchens are trending. Bad idea. This is more of a fad than a trend. It won’t last. This is because the color black sucks light and spaciousness out of the kitchen.
Incorporate artwork and objects to bring the rest of the home into the kitchen and vice versa.
Some designers are advocating floor-to-ceiling tile. We think that it’s ridiculous. The kitchen is not a shower. Nor is it a public restroom. Besides, it is very expensive, and you are tempted to sacrifice wall space that should be more usefully used for cabinetry.
Some designers are still advocating the removal of upper cabinets and replacing them with open shelving. We think that this is ridiculous. You should never sacrifice storage space in a kitchen. And a shelf is simply not as effective
And open shelving is so yesterday. Plus it collects dust and offends the eye with visual clutter. If you have unused open wall space, use if for artwork.
Kitchen plate racks
Kitchen plate racks are a bad idea for the same reason as open shelves. Visual clutter.
Dual work triangles
We like the idea of introducing dual work triangles. It comports with the basics of kitchen design and layout.
We love these if you have the space. We also like a second, or prep kitchen. But only if you have space and the budget.
Colorful kitchen islands
We like this idea. A contrast in both material and color is pleasing to the eye and relieves the potential monotony of a monochrome kitchen.
And the kitchen island becomes a piece of furniture. However, beware of sacrificing storage space. And for small kitchens, consider rolling islands or carts.
Marble countertops are a bad idea. Don’t do it. Marble is prone to staining that is next to impossible to remove.
Hidden or integrated kitchen appliances
You can hide appliances with custom panel fronts. Nothing wrong with this but beware of the expense.
Open-front, farmhouse sinks
We like farmhouse sinks, but nothing beats stainless steel for practicality.
We like multi-level kitchen islands. You get more options for food prep and seating. Think of kids’ homework.
And you can achieve the same kind of effect in a more homey way by placing a table or other piece of furniture at the end of the island. What you do with this depends on your style.
Concealed cabinet grabs and push-to-open drawers
Cabinetry with hidden grabs or push-to-open drawers provides a sleek look. On the other hand, there is a wide choice of cabinet hardware that can provide a unique personality.
Look for cabinetry with sliding pullouts to maximize storage.
Textured walls may look good, but they are not good for long-term maintenance. Avoid them as they are hard to keep clean.
Hardwood floors are trending, and we like these. But consider vinyl flooring that is almost impossible to distinguish from hardwood flooring. Vinyl is much easier on the feet.
Aging in place
In planning your kitchen, don’t lose sight of the long-term future. If appropriate, consider what goes into making kitchens for the elderly.
Conclusion on current kitchen design trends
A silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic has been to cause us to take stock of our home surroundings and the way we live at home. Some of the changes we have been forced to make may actually have long-term benefits, especially in the area of working from home and homeschooling.
Working at home has in many ways been very successful from the point of view of both employers and employees. And the same can be said for homeschooling, from the point of view of both parents and children.
So we should embrace this and make sure our homes adapt accordingly.