Clearly, styles, designs, colors, and materials go in and out of fashion, often rapidly. New technology is constantly providing new products. Therefore, the professional designer should make a regular practice of attending trade shows, reading trade and consumer publications, and checking online blogs and sites to stay up to date with the newest products and trends. Aside from design and material trends, however, there are overarching demographic and lifestyle factors worth noting that are influencing kitchen planning in this new millennium. Today’s casual lifestyle finds more household members working together in the kitchen and carrying on a wider variety of activities. There is often a more relaxed style of entertaining and guests help with the food preparation. Both trends call for a kitchen where people can interact and where two or more cooks can work.
Kitchens of today can take on two different looks. One places the appliances as a focal point in the kitchen. Large, stainless steel or colorful appliances make a statement as you enter the kitchen space. Consumers want their high-end appliances to show off, catching the attention of those entering. The other look is the hidden or integrated look. Refrigerators and dishwashers hide behind wooden panels that blend into the adjacent cabinetry. This styling creates a simplistic or minimalist look that many households are trying to achieve because it doesn’t detract from their other decorating elements. Instead of appliances being the focal point, such things as unique furniture pieces, decorative hoods, or light fixtures attract attention.
A downturn of the economy from 2008 to 2011 has also had an impact on kitchens. As households find their budgets strained, kitchens are becoming smaller and more streamlined to reflect the current economic times. Households are more interested in incorporating function and satisfying needs rather than trying to simply make a design statement.
command central: As the kitchen continues to be the hub of home activities, the open plan concept, which combines the kitchen with a dining area, family room, and/or den into one large living space or great room remains strong. Sometimes a portion of the great room replaces the formal dining room. Often these spaces become too open and the kitchen is pushed back into a corner. Ellen Cheever, a prominent designer, promotes a new way of looking at the space, putting the kitchen in the center of the space and using walls or partial walls to create activity centers that are somewhat separate yet connected with people able to flow from one space to another.
Islands: Consumers’ desire for an island in the kitchen remains high, and today’s larger kitchens can easily accommodate one. These islands vary greatly in size, shape, and usage and may include multiple levels. The island may be used solely as a prep area or contain a variety of appliances and fixtures, including a cooktop, sink, or microwave oven. One portion may also serve as an eating bar for snacks and informal meals. Double islands, two islands with each serving a different purpose in the kitchen, are also growing in popularity for larger, multi-cook kitchens that support many different activities .Multiple-height counters: More households are becoming interested in universal design features that will help them function more easily in their home. Using multiple counter heights is one way to provide workspace for a variety of activities and users.
Multiple cooks: With the popularity of hobby cooking and shared meal preparation, the mul- tiple-cook kitchen is designed with enough space to accommodate multiple individuals who enjoy cooking together.
More window area: A larger number of windows, as well as larger windows, increase natural light and add to the feeling of openness. However, more windows, as well as using more wall space for artwork and the open space design decrease the area available for tall appliances and wall storage.
Environmental Awareness Trends
Recycling: Whether by choice or necessity, many households include recycling in their daily routine. Because the kitchen is the source of many recyclable materials, creating space for temporarily storing bottles, cans, and the like is a growing trend.
Conserving natural resources: Consumers continue to request water- and energy-efficient appliances, and more consumers are aware of the Energy Star-qualified products and look for the Energy Star label.Consumers list energy and water savings as one of the most important factors when selecting new appliances.
Green products: More consumers are concerned about the environment and look for environmentally sound or “green” building products, including those made of recycled materials.
Care-free products: Households are seeking low-maintenance products that last longer and minimize the use of harsh chemicals for cleaning.LED lighting: The more efficient LED lighting is being incorporated by more designers in many areas of the kitchen.
Hub of the home: The kitchen remains the center of family activities and gatherings. In order to accommodate all of these activities, the space must be multifunctional and flexible.
Hobby cooking: The popularity of television cooking shows has sparked an interest in hobby cooking. Hobby cooking often involves the use of new techniques and appliances for cooking as a form of entertaining, so a large kitchen that accommodates a crowd is necessary. Multiple cooks are often involved so a variety of food preparation stations are planned into the design.
Seating areas: Seating areas in and around the kitchen are highly desired . These areas serve as gathering areas for family and friends, and can support numerous family activities close to the food preparation activities of the kitchen. Many of these areas include a fireplace and television to accommodate such activities as entertaining, relaxing, Internet surfing, and homework. Audio systems provide background music for numerous activities.
Beverage stations: Beverage stations, such as coffee and wine bars, are showing up in many of today’s kitchens.
Lifestyle center: The isolated home office is being replaced with what is referred to as a “lifestyle center.” Located near the kitchen, this space has a computer and other electronic equipment that allow children to do homework while being monitored by the parents. It also serves as a space for adults to work at home, pay bills, or plan household meals.
Technology: Our fascination with technology extends to today’s kitchens. From improved energy efficiency and water usage to high-tech controls, today’s appliances are state-of-the-art devices. Small computer-like components allow the consumer to choose from a wide variety of settings and preset start times. Appliances monitor multiple temperatures at one time, keep refrigerated food at the perfect temperature, sense when food is cooked or when dishes are clean, and even change from a cooling device to a cooking device.
Outdoor kitchens: The outdoor kitchen concept goes far beyond the backyard grill . New appliances and materials allow the designer to develop a complete kitchen outdoors, including grills, burners, refrigerators, beer taps, woks, warming drawers, regular and pizza ovens, ice makers, warming drawers, and even heaters and fireplaces to make the kitchen usable for more of the year. This outdoor space can serve as a secondary dining space when the weather is nice and can allow the household to accommodate more company for holidays and celebrations.
Outpost kitchens: As part of the master or guest bedroom suite, family room, or office space, many households are incorporating a small kitchen space, often referred to as an “outpost
kitchen” or, “morning kitchen” for preparing food and beverages away from the main kitchen. Such kitchens often include a small refrigerator, a sink, a microwave oven, and storage. Households are finding the outpost kitchen a convenient solution to the morning rush, as a support station when a family member is injured or ill, a personal food preparation space for a multi- generational household, or a means for easy access to refreshments by household members.
Second appliances: Once a common feature of larger, high-end kitchen designs, the use of duplicate appliances in a kitchen plan has diminished. With a decline in the size of today’s homes and a more conservative economic outlook, duplicate kitchen appliances are looked on as excessive. Duplicate appliances, however, might still be found in other areas of the home, especially in homes where multiple generations reside and auxiliary food preparation areas help support the individual needs of household groups.
Variety: With such a large variety of sizes and styles, little is standard today when it comes to appliances. Although many appliances still come in standard sizes, more of the newer models are appearing in both larger and smaller sizes than before.
controls: Increasing numbers of appliances are incorporating electronic controls that only require a touch of the finger to use. Controls are also becoming more sophisticated. Some appear when you touch the surface of an appliance, and others are hidden on the edges of appliance doors. Sensor controls monitor temperatures, and lock-out features limit a child’s access. Gas: Gas is the most popular cooktop fuel in the United States, while the use of gas is on the rise in Canada. Induction is growing in popularity as a clean alternative to the gas.
Ranges: Ranges still dominate in the cooking center, but the use of separate cooktops and ovens is on the rise. Also increasing in popularity are warming drawers and double ovens. Range hoods are becoming more common in Canada, and dramatic, oversized vent hoods create a design statement in U.S. kitchens.
Undercounter appliances: As we move away from using wall cabinets, the use of undercounter appliances is on the rise. This places the appliances next to the storage that might complement their use.
Three-door refrigeration: The three-door refrigerator with a bottom freezer is dominating the market, but the side-by-side model is still popular . Chilled wine refrigeration is on the decline, replaced by unchilled wine storage.
Drawers: Drawer appliances, such as the dishwashing drawer, wine storage drawers, the microwave drawer, and the refrigerator and freezer drawers are becoming increasingly more popular.
Convection and steam: Convection cooking modes are almost standard in many mid- to high-end ovens. Steam is being incorporated into many different appliances, including ovens, dishwashers, clothes washers, and clothes dryers.
Disposers: Disposers’ use is up, along with the use of trash compactors.
Downsized styles: The commercial or professional look is now available in less bulky models.
Dark woods: Darker woods and dark stain are popular in both the United States and Canada, but a shift to a medium finish is expected as a safe choice for the current economy. However, some designers are also using light-colored wood finishes extensively. With the darker-toned cabinets, homeowners are using lighter floors and counters to lighten up the room.
Wood choices: Cherry is the most popular cabinet wood in the United States followed by maple and alder wood. Mahogany and walnut are also popular. In Canada, popular woods include cherry, dark oak, birch, and maple.
Rustic look: The European farmhouse or rustic elegance look makes use of lighter, gray-toned woods, such as bleached ash, for cabinets as well as floors. These reclaimed or bleached woods add character and weathered imperfections. Mixing these rustic elements with more polished materials is also a hot trend .
Shaker styling: Traditional styling continues to be popular and may include influences from France and Sweden. A move away from the very heavily ornamented traditional designs, however, is more reflective of the current economic times where people are seeking a more simplified lifestyle. There is a strong resurgence of the Shaker style.
Fewer wall cabinets: Fewer wall cabinets allow rooms to open up and the use of more windows. All of the storage is placed in base cabinets or pantry type storage areas. A lack of or reduction in the number of wall cabinets presents a new way to look at kitchen design.
Furniture pieces: Furniture styled pieces, often with curved lines, serve as storage and work areas.
Lift cabinets: Interest in the lift-style wall cabinet door, which lifts straight up instead of out, is emerging.
Contemporary styling emerges: Geometric lines and shapes, so characteristic of the Euro contemporary style, is a popular look in today’s kitchens across the continent .
Elongated, horizontal elements are created with wide drawers and long handles. Cubes of cabinets, arranged geometrically, are clustered on walls. Integrated handles help emphasize the clean lines of the style.
Electronic drawer controls: Electronically controlled drawers open and close with the use of a small motor. Undermount, full-extension glide systems are used on all levels of drawer construction. Soft-close drawers are incorporated into many kitchen cabinets.
Glass shelves: Glass cabinet door panels and glass shelves are popular in Canadian kitchens.
Brushed hardware: Brushed metal hardware has stood the test of time.
Color and Finish Trends
Two-toned look: Canadian and U.S. designers are finding the two-tone look popular. This may include painted finishes in two contrasting colors, or a painted surface paired with a natural wood or stone surface.
White and neutrals: White and off-white are still prominent. The neutral palettes, including browns as well as beige and bone, are popular. Warm earth tones are used for counters and backsplashes.
The new black: Gray is the new black and is especially popular in Canada.
Vibrant colors: We are seeing a stronger commitment to color with dramatic “pops” of color, such as neon and jewel tones, showing up on walls, as accents, and in appliances.
Texture: Tactile and visual texture is adding interest to the kitchen through the use of line, colors, patterns, mosaic tiles, and glass tiles.
international inspiration: Inspirations from Africa, India, Peru, and Turkey incorporate bold pink, orange, turquoise, and green colors into kitchens. Bold patterns are paired with earthy and neutral accessories. Distressed finishes are on the decline.
Tuscany: Design motifs from Tuscany, with their earthy color palettes, multi-style cabinetry, and inclusion of different countertops, materials, and colors are demonstrating that not everything in a kitchen needs to match.
Hardwoods: Hardwoods, including tropical hardwoods, are very popular for cabinetry, furniture, and floors.
Stainless steel: Stainless steel continues to be a hot trend and is used in sinks, on appliances, and as countertops. Appliance companies, however, are looking to colors like glossy white, slate gray, and black as up and coming trends.
Natural stone: Ceramic and porcelain tiles, along with natural stone, are desired surface finishes. For the more rustic designs, honed granite or marble create a beautiful contrast against brick and raw-stone walls.
Glass: Designers are using more glass than ever and in many different applications, including glass appliance fronts, glass counters, glass tiles for the backsplash, and glass shelves in cabinets.
Antiqued finishes: Canadian designers incorporate antiqued finishes that complement the traditional styling and are moving away from stronger grained woods toward a softer look. Easy care: Easy to clean and care for finishes are a must.
Mix and match: Designers are incorporating multiple counter materials—one for the island and a different material for the other surfaces.
Green products: Many consumers are interested in materials that are considered “green.” These materials are produced with little embodied energy, are easy to care for, durable, and perhaps made from recycled or reclaimed components.
Countertop and Floor Trends
Quartz gaining: Granite remains the most popular countertop surface, but it is losing share to quartz or engineered stone. Solid surface is clearly in third place, and the use of laminate is on the decline. Polished concrete is also becoming popular for high-end applications.
Tile backsplash: Popular backsplash materials include ceramic, porcelain, and glass tiles, and backsplashes are lower and less conspicuous. Herringbone mosaic patterns add texture and pattern to the kitchen.
Green choices: Bamboo and cork are popular as green product material for floors. Wood flooring in kitchens is increasing in popularity.
Slate: Slate is a durable floor covering but it is a less affordable choice and requires resealing on regular intervals. Porcelain tiles are used more extensively and are a better choice for durability. Laminate flooring is also a popular choice, but there are varying degrees of quality.
Heated floors: Radiant heating of floors is popular for the kitchen as well as the entire home. Stepping onto a warm floor adds to the comfort of working or relaxing in a space.
Specialty storage: Storage features are becoming unique and personalized, including such things as pet supply centers and charging stations. Consumers are looking for ways to eliminate clutter.
Workstations on wheels: Designers find pantry cupboards very popular, as well as workstations on wheels, such as islands and prep workstations .
Large pantry: Consumers continue to request pantries more than ever, but a separate, walk-in pantry located in different parts of the kitchen is the most desired style. Many storage devices that make better use of pantry space are available. Some designers see a decline in the use of tall pantries, lazy Susans, pullout racks, and appliance garages.
Barn door: Walk-in pantry areas are making use of a sliding barn-door-style covering for access. The hanging door is mounted from concealed or decorative hardware on the outside of the wall. The door slides along the hardware to reveal the opening. Such doors are also used for openings to laundry rooms or areas.
Stainless steel sinks: Stainless steel is as popular for sinks as it is for appliances.
Pull-out faucets: Pull-out faucets are in high demand, with standard and pot filler faucets coming in second. Gooseneck faucets are also popular, even in traditional kitchens. Curving high above the sink, these faucets make it easier to fill pots, and many include a pull-out spray nozzle.
Multiple sinks: Even though many designers are not including as many multiple appliances in the kitchen, many are still including an additional sink, like a salad sink in the island or in the counter workspace across the kitchen from the main sink . This supports the work of two cooks in the kitchen.
Brushed nickel: Brushed nickel and satin nickel are top choices in new kitchens, followed by stainless steel and polished chrome. Venetian bronze finishes are popular in Canada.