5 Top Kitchen Trends We’re Loving

What's cooking? Larger islands, creative storage, statement lighting and more.

kitchen trends

Proper lighting is crucial to the success of a kitchen, says Jules Duffy, who designed this one. “It not only creates the mood, it makes a statement,” she adds. The custom hood, the tile backsplash extending to the ceiling and a charming farmhouse sink also add to this unique look. Photo by Laura Moss

As we hunker down in our homes, we’re spending more time in our kitchens. That means we might want to cook up some new color schemes or plunge into our design dreams. With that in mind, we asked six Garden State designers to discuss the latest kitchen trends. 

1. EAT-IN KITCHENS AS DINING ROOMS

“With busy schedules, families aren’t sitting down at their dining tables as much,” says Chatham designer Cory Connor. “They’re sitting at the island. So what we’re doing is making the island a table.” Stool arrangement is key, she adds. Connor recommends allowing room for stools on three sides. “It’s more conversational that way,” she says. 

“Most people want an island,” adds Midland Park’s Craig Teitsma. “What’s different now is that people want the largest island they can get.” He suggests a polished look for today’s island. “We’re giving it a furniture finish—like putting an apron on it and having decorative posts on three sides.” 

kitchen trends

Islands, says this kitchen’s designer Craig Teitsma, are increasingly “intended to look like a dining table.” Courtesy of Craig Allen Designs/Bob Polet

Cozy, built-in banquettes are also in demand. “I’m finding people don’t want to waste an entire room with a dining room they’ll use twice a year,” says Martina Servos of Montclair. “All the action happens in the kitchen, so it’s more about entertaining and having everyone together. The banquette becomes the eating area.” Adds Madison’s Jules Duffy, “It’s also a place you can multitask, eat breakfast while sitting at your computer.”

[RELATED: Tour the Kitchen Fit for a Family of Foodies]

2. WHITE—WITH POPS OF COLOR

“White will never go out of style,” says Connor. “It’s timeless and clean, and it allows you to do whatever you want in adjacent rooms.” Adds Chester designer Maria Bevill, “White kitchens will never go out of fashion, but I’m seeing that people want to warm them up a bit. They’re mixing white cabinets with a dark-wood center island and dark-wood floors.” 

All agree that pops of color are important. “I’m seeing a lot of two-tone kitchens,” says Teitsma. “White with blues or white with greens or black. Sometimes it’s upper cabinets one color and base cabinets a different color.”

In some kitchens, the island provides contrast. “Everyone wants a blue island lately,” Connor says. “It’s cheery and it’s moody. Blue can go in any direction.” Valerie Sayler, showroom manager at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting in Lakewood, agrees. “I don’t see white going away anytime soon, but there are a lot of kitchens adding colors as accents,” she says. “Navy blue, hunter green and gray are the most popular colors right now.” And, she adds, “more appliance vendors are adding color to their appliance lines, too. KitchenAid, for example, recently added great color options on their professional ranges.”

kitchen trends

Sayler designed this kitchen in a neutral palette while allowing for maximum storage. Courtesy of CMM Custom Homes in Lakewood

3. STORAGE SOLUTIONS

Sufficient storage is always an issue, even in the biggest of kitchens. Cabinetmakers have finally caught on and are providing ways to maximize every nook and cranny. “There are a lot of new corner-cabinet storage systems,” Bevill says. Adds Saylor: “More people are adding cabinetry in hidden spaces. Some customers are even building islands with storage on the back side and extending the countertop for seating, but still using that footprint for hidden storage.”

Still, Bevill warns, “streamline your clutter. The best way to update your kitchen is to reduce the clutter. It takes away the mental chaos and makes it a more relaxing place.” Careful editing of accessories is key, especially when incorporating another popular trend, open shelving. “It’s perfect for displaying your pretty stuff,” says Connor, “and allows pops of color.” 

Because kitchens are inherently boxy, Servos suggests, “open shelving gives the sense of openness and lightness to a room. And it gives us a chance to express ourselves.” Does open shelving reduce storage by replacing upper-cabinet space with decorative shelving? Well, yes. “But, you can make up for that by bundling all your storage in your tall cabinets,” Servos says. “Just reorganize it!”

kitchen trends

Cory Connor placed traditional pendants over an expansive island to create a pseudo–dining room space. Courtesy of Cory Connor Designs/Eric Kazmirek

4. MAKE A STATEMENT

Decorative hoods are a great way to make a statement. “Hoods used to be unattractive, but now they’ve become a focal point of the kitchen,” says Bevill. “They make a dramatic statement, and everyone loves a dramatic statement.” Common materials? “We’re doing a lot of wood hoods,” says Teitsma, “but we’re also going more toward metal.”

Lighting is another way to make a statement. “Lighting is the jewelry of the home, especially the kitchen,” says Sayler. Others agree. “Lighting is critical to the success of a kitchen design,” says Duffy. “If you have a fabulous kitchen but don’t pay attention to your pendant lights, it can all fall flat.” 

There are essentially two types of lighting in a kitchen, Duffy explains: task lighting, such as recessed lights and high hats, and pendant or decorative lighting, which add ambience. “Task lighting is important, but the pendant lighting makes the mood,” says Duffy.

“Lighting now is larger and makes a statement, and it has more glass to it,” says Bevill. “It’s clear, so there’s no obstructed view.” Material options are endless. “Brass and matte black are the two most popular,” says Sayler.

“Picking out a specialty light can really add that wow factor,” adds Sayler. “I like to say, ‘Be bold with lighting.’ It’s such an easy piece to replace if you get sick of it.” 

Servos incorporated a mix of organic materials and open shelving to create this chic, urban kitchen. Photos by Erik Rank

5. WARM & NATURAL

“We are seeing a lot of natural materials used in accent pieces,” says Sayler. “Hardware with leather, lighting with wood or rattan.” Servos takes it one step farther: “We are all becoming more aware of being healthy, so we’re looking at environmentally natural materials. It’s a calming addition to any space.”

Warm wood tones top the list, especially for flooring. “You’re always going to have metal, so it balances with the natural wood,” says Servos. Adds Teitsma, “I’d say 70 percent of people are doing wood floors. It’s warm underfoot.”


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