Everyone knows the best party is always in the kitchen. This has never been truer than it is with today’s expansive open kitchens and supersized islands. “The kitchen has become another room that is a really beautiful focal point,” says Jeannine Price of the luxury bath and kitchen brand Waterworks, New York City. “Modern kitchens are much more complex than in those days of the original work triangle of storage, prep, and cooking,” says Robert Bakes, co-founder and head of design at Bakes & Kropp Fine Cabinetry, with locations in New York City, the Hamptons and Palm Beach. “Now, more than ever the kitchen is an extension of the living space and will need to perform many different functions from use and function to a congregation and relaxation area.”
“A combination of painted and stained wood cabinetry is very relevant today, not so much the all-white kitchen but white with a twist,” says Bakes, ”Our palette speaks to an enduring market with white, greys, soft cerused walnut and oaks.” The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) trends research notes that “whites will be a popular neutral with nature-inspired greens and blues for warmth and inspiration.” In addition, designers will use bold colors for backsplashes, artwork, accent furniture, paint, and wallpaper. Alex Yacavone, Kohler Design Studio Manager, lists bolder colors as one of the top five design trends.
Countertops and Clutter
Top designs include large islands, according to the NKBA. “For islands, size and inclusion are primarily driven by the overall kitchen footprint,” says Bakes. “The island forms a valuable transition point between the various functions of a modern kitchen.” Islands are topped with marble, natural stone, granite, quartz or quartzite. To eliminate clutter, many small appliances such as a microwave or a coffee station are hidden away, perhaps built into a drawer.
A hidden pantry the size of a walk-in closet is very popular, according to Price. “You open a door and go into it, as you would a closet,” she says, noting that “there are also a lot of wet bars where you walk through between the kitchen and the den. These might have a wine cooler and a built-in coffee station.”
Fixtures and Hardware.
“Hardware is the jewelry that can add personality so it’s a way for a client to project a subtle message,” says Bakes. “Generally speaking, hardware and faucets should match though other fittings such as lights and additional metal accents can contrast.” Price believes that “People should spend some money on faucets as they are the most used item. People are choosing brass and gold and some gunmetal and nickel unlacquered finishes. Black was very trendy but it’s on its way out.” Price also notes that “more and more people are asking for a hot water dispenser, a little faucet, next to the sink so they can have a cup of tea right there.” “From touchless technology to beautiful finishes or unique teak-wood handles, the faucet is the perfect place to start when designing for a more personalized, elevated look,” says Danielle De Boe Harper, senior creative style manager, Moen.
NKBA reports that sustainability is important to many homeowners. The top three concerns are LED lighting, separate storage for recycling, and increased natural light. Bakes agrees that “sustainability is becoming ever more critical to the industry and to our clients. High-quality custom cabinetry is a naturally green choice. We try to take conscious steps in production that make for greener outcomes by educating clients on wood choices that might be more environmentally friendly in the long run.” Kohler’s Yacavone also lists the desire for sustainable materials as a top trend.
The NKBA says homeowners are most excited about smart controls via mobile devices or voice control, touchless faucets, integrated lighting, smart appliances, and dedicated areas for charging devices. “There was a movement toward desks in the kitchen a few years ago,” says Bakes, “but it is not so relevant now. For most, kitchen desks became an inefficient use of space where clutter took precedence. We find clients are turning toward other alternatives, such as adding more seating for entertaining, integrating a landing zone with charging docks and organizers or freestanding pantries to name a few.” Price notes that an island could have a drawer with outlets for a computer and phone rather than a traditional desk.