Five kitchen design ideas that are making people happy and how to make them work for you.
Whether it’s a splash of color in the cabinets, a champagne-brass drawer pull or a wall of open shelving, the kitchen ideas homeowners and designers are loving now can elevate everybody’s favorite gathering space to home showpiece status.
Kitchens remain the most popular room for homeowners to renovate, and it’s no wonder why — thanks to the array of popular and practical countertop, cabinet and lighting styles out there, an updated kitchen can make a house feel fresh again in a way other rooms can’t. Here are the kitchen design ideas that pros, homeowners and Houzz photos say are taking off or still going strong.
Getting the low-key look. Paul McAlary, of Pennsylvania-based kitchen and cabinet design firm Main Line Kitchen Design, says more colorful cabinets, particularly bolder shades like navy blue, can cost more. He doesn’t recommend painting them yourself as it can damage the quality of the cabinets. Instead, he suggests homeowners get their color fix through the easier-to-update walls or backsplash. Still, painting your cabinets yourself is definitely the affordable option if you want to get the look for less. “They’ll never look quite like they actually should, but it’ll be [an updated] color and they’ll be OK for a few years,” McAlary says.
Getting the full-out look. Incorporate vibrant cabinetry in just the island or base cabinets, or create dimension and visual interest by pairing all-around colorful cabinets with contrasting countertops and on-trend brass or gold hardware.
Granite, still pricey but available in more affordable varieties than quartz, still reigns in some areas.
What homeowners say. Engineered quartz overall beat out granite 43 to 34 percent among homeowners updating countertops in the 2018 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study. (Countertops, homeowners said, were the kitchen feature they were most likely to splurge on.)
Quartz’s expanding pattern palette may be contributing to its growing popularity, along with other pluses like its stain resistance and durability. Homeowner Jennifer Dabbs, who worked with Studio Miel’s Harper to renovate her 1894 Washington, D.C.-area kitchen, says quartz’s reputation for being a more contemporary style initially gave her pause. “I was afraid it would look too modern in our home,” Dabbs says. “However, we chose a stone that replicates a marble and turns out to be exactly what we wanted in terms of functionality — low maintenance — and look.”
What saved Houzz photos say. Favorite kitchen photos from the previous three months feature a number of white and white marbleized quartz countertops, including Cambria’s Brittanicca and Walker Zanger’s Calacatta 981 Quartz, which can be striking against a wood butcher-block island or countertop extension.
What the pros say. Open shelving can make a kitchen look taller and airier. As this look gets more popular, Luke Owen of Kansas City-based Owen Homessays his team has seen a corresponding spike in requests for hideaway places for smaller appliances, outlets and other clutter.
Dishes, plants and knickknacks displayed on open shelves need thoughtful curation to avoid a cluttered look, so having spaces to tuck away less-attractive counter-crowders can keep things balanced and tidy. Having fewer pieces on the shelves also minimizes the risk of your favorite platter crashing down. (Open shelves typically aren’t made to withstand the weight cabinets are.)
Getting the full-out look. More shelves mean more styling and maintenance to keep your kitchen from looking too busy. To create that sleek, intentional feeling with more shelves, group items by color, leave some shelf space open and carve out plenty of sturdier, hidden space for bulky appliances and mismatched dishware.
What the pros say. High-tech touch-screen refrigerators and ovens have yet to really catch on with the typical homeowner, pros say, but smart electronics are appearing in the kitchen in other ways.The Dallas-area clients that Reese works with can be a little leery of major appliances with too many bells and whistles, Reese says. “They’re a little afraid of that technology,” she says. “Is it going to break? How much will it cost to fix it? How long will it take to fix it? Is it going to be too difficult for me to actually cook even though the whole premise is to enable the whole cooking experience?” Other pros echoed similar sentiments.
Where technology is cropping up more in the kitchen is through wireless speakers, smart lighting and voice-controlled TVs and assistants. Harper says her clients are always looking for more outlets and often a separate charging station in the kitchen for powering their devices, though she’s noticed she’s adding fewer USB connector ports as technology evolves.
What homeowners say. Touchscreen controls or built-in speakers appear in 1 in 4 new appliances that homeowners are choosing as replacements for their old gadgets, the kitchen study found. Wireless and voice-controlled appliances appear in 11 percent of upgraded appliances.
Getting the low-key effect. A voice-controlled or wireless speaker or digital assistant comes in handy in the kitchen when you need a measurement converted or background dinner-making music.
Getting the full-out effect. Homeowners reported their refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves and range hoods were their top updated appliances, so tricking out those major players with touchscreens and smart controls may be the way to go if you’re tech-happy (and have the budget for it).
Getting the low-key look. Light fixtures can be a great place to test out a trend, as they’re typically easy to replace or upgrade, Harper says.Getting the full-out look.Statement lights you can control with your voice or a smartphone are all the rage.