As the pandemic changed the landscape of our daily lives over the past 18 months, so too has it changed the way we cook, entertain, work and relax in our homes. As remote work and schooling became commonplace, and favorite restaurants and eateries went to takeout only or closed altogether, at-home cooking and dining became the focus of a household’s daily routine. More than just a place to cook or entertain, the kitchen began beating once again as the heart of the house, multitasking as office, classroom and family gathering place — spurring real changes in structure and function.
Thoughtful function paired with a minimalist aesthetic, muted color palettes and the magic of smart appliances are giving rise to the “New Modern” in kitchens. As we move into 2022, this New Modern aesthetic eschews unnecessary details and decoration in favor of functionality and ecologically conscious designs emphasizing natural textures. Counters are decluttered, open shelving may be enclosed, and all-over bright color, prints and backsplashes give way to neutral blues, grays and natural greens — maybe with just a splash of contrast color. Bob Bakes, co-founder of Hamptons kitchen design group Bakes & Kropp, weighs in on how kitchen design is trending into the new year. “2022 will be a continuation of the sense of expression that we are seeing in 2021. People are steering clear of true minimalism and are opting for a structured modern twist with some softer elements. We will continue to see a trend towards vibrancy and expression.”
What to look for in 2022:
Color. Any discussion about kitchen color choices starts with cabinetry. “When we talk about painting the kitchen, 90% of the conversation is about colors for the cabinets, since they occupy a good part of the walls and will undoubtedly be the dominant hue,” shares Joe Badilla, principal of Badilla Painters located in Bridgehampton. Well-known from the Hamptons to Manhattan as cabinet refinishing specialists, Badilla sees that warmer shades such as beige, cream and greige have begun to replace the ever-popular cool white in kitchen color schemes. Cabinets in light wood tones are also on the upswing. “Blond natural wood finishes are adding a degree of sophistication when combined with painted finishes creating a strong but welcoming contrast.”
And what about accent and contrast colors? Joe Badilla believes it’s all about comfort. “Comfort colors are similar to comfort foods — both offering a certain sense of familiarity and balance. Shades of green like mint and olive, red varietals like cranberry and rose, soft brown tones like walnut and whiskey, and even subtle yellows like banana and squash are the comfort tones used as accent colors in many of the kitchens we’ve designed.” According to paint website Behr (www.behr.com), the leading color for 2022 is Breezeway, described as a “light and uplifting sea glass green.”
Mix and Match Metals. Some homeowners are turning away from stainless steel kitchens, looking to make a cozier, more interesting space by mixing different materials on appliances, sinks, faucets, lighting fixtures and cabinet hardware. Copper and brass are growing in popularity because they have the added benefit of being anti-microbial, satisfying those who are hygienically conscious. Bob Bakes issues a few words of caution on this trend so your space doesn’t end up looking haphazard. “The development of mixed metals has been pretty substantial over the last few years. In terms of mixing metals, I love to mix but it can’t be random,” says Bakes. “One of the core design concepts that I follow is the connection of elements throughout the space, so when mixing metals it is important to make those little connections and have the different metals repeat in various places.”
Built-Ins and Storage. While there are tons of new gadgets and kitchen utensils coming to our kitchens in 2022, we don’t need to see them. Built-in appliances create a streamlined finish without sacrificing style. Appliances like a refrigerator or dishwasher can be neatly hidden behind panels matching cabinet doors. Electrical sockets are recessed as well. Built-in storage boxes for utensils and small electrics (coffee maker, toaster, etc.) take this new minimalism just a step further, enhancing the clean and uncluttered lines of counter space. Concealing your range hood is also on trend for 2022.
While some kitchen designs focus on floor to ceiling storage, Bob Bakes does not see that as a trend that will really catch on because it’s not particularly practical. “We don’t often use floor-to-ceiling storage in our designs because we find that it is more practical to have large, heavy-duty drawers for pots and pans….We find that top-level storage is generally used to store lightweight decorative pieces, or things that are rarely used.”
Countertops. While engineered quartz is by far the leading material for upgraded kitchen countertops, it has dramatically declined in popularity through 2021. Online design site Houzz (www.Houzz.com) attributes this decline to increased tariffs on imports from China, where most quartz is manufactured. As a result, current countertop trends include butcher block, wood slabs and natural stones like marble, granite and quartzite.
Eco-Style and Sustainability. While design and function are important, many homeowners are recognizing the importance of choosing environmentally friendly options in their kitchen, including water and energy-efficient appliances like smart ovens and smart refrigerators. Retaining existing cabinets and only replacing cupboard doors is not only good for the budget, but also reduces waste going to landfill. Products like bamboo and cork are also eco-friendly options, as is melamine chipboard that uses recycled timber. Furniture made of natural wood perfectly complements the kitchen space.
What trend can we expect not to catch on? There has been some chatter about the return of the kitchen as a separate room/space as a response to the proliferation of open-space floor plans. Not a chance, according to Bob Bakes. “The open plan concept is contingent on space, but generally we are still seeing a desire for open floor plans. The need to design the kitchen as a separate room is an old concept, and I don’t think it’s making its return quite yet.”