Here’s what several top designers in the D.C. region and two national experts had to say about the latest kitchen design trends.
All-white kitchens had their moment — until homeowners realized what it took to keep them clean. White remains popular, but color is coming back to cabinetry.
“White kitchen cabinets are still the most popular with over 40 percent of renovating homeowners installing them, according to Houzz research,” said Mitchell Parker, Houzz editor. “However, we’re starting to see designers add visual interest and warmth and break up the expanse of white by adding wood drawers, shelves and pullouts.”
Nadia Subaran of Aidan Design says deep and vibrant color is trending.
“Blues and greens work really well in kitchens," Subaran said. "Navy is classic and a favorite of ours, but our recent projects include cabinets in spring green, teal and a deep forest green.”
The minimalism and clean lines of Shaker-style cabinetry continue to appeal.
“Shaker-style and flat-panel design are more popular than ever,” said Shannon Kadwell of Anthony Wilder Design. “We are moving further and further away from molding details and using more interesting materials together. The framed areas on inset construction are becoming a place to create interesting details and textures.”
“Appliances are tough because they take up so much of the visual space,” Parker said. “You’ve got to fight them or celebrate them or cover them up.”
Even though listings for houses on the market continue to tout stainless-steel appliances in the kitchen, their popularity waned once homeowners realized the metal is a fingerprint magnet. Black stainless steel is an option, but so is color. Blue, red, orange and yellow are popular.
“Colorful appliances are a great way to add personality without dominating the kitchen and can be changed out easily should you grow tired of the color,” said Alexandria Hubbard of Case/Remodeling.
Manufacturer Dacor offers a color-match system, allowing you to customize the color of your appliances to complement other kitchen finishes.
“We are seeing manufacturers offer these very personalized customizable options for products and appliances,” Parker said.
Granite dominated until homeowners discovered how difficult it was to keep clean. Because it is porous, granite stains and encourages bacteria to breed. Composite quartz, combining natural stone and resin to create a stronger, more durable alternative to granite, emerged as a favorite.
Engineered "quartz is getting better,” Parker said. One of its problems, he said, "is that from far away, because it’s a faux-marble look, it’s like a digitized print, so up close in some poor-quality brands you can kind of tell it’s a digital print.”
Porcelain countertops have been big in Europe for years but only recently started appearing in the United States. Porcelain slabs can look like granite, marble, wood or a variety of other materials. They are purportedly stain-, heat- and bacteria-resistant.
“Porcelain is very durable,” Parker said. “For a while, the manufacturing process was kind of difficult, but they’ve worked out a lot of the kinks. I’m seeing a lot more people choose porcelain.”
While a typical kitchen sink is just a place to wash dishes or clean produce, a workstation sink allows a homeowner to perform a variety of tasks with its many accessories — carving board, condiment serving station, beverage station, drying rack and colander. These multipurpose sinks are ideal for small kitchens where space is at a premium, but they also come in handy no matter what size kitchen you have.
“This sink not only helps clean and prepare food but also becomes an extension of the countertop for entertaining and serving,” Hubbard said. “From the condiment serving board, the garnish board and bar serving set, this workstation had endless accessories to help any home chef serve the perfect dish.”
Open floor plans have made the kitchen part of the main living space. To create continuity, many designers are extending the wood flooring from the adjacent living area into the kitchen. Although hardwood flooring is prone to water damage, it is less cold and hard than tile flooring. It also has a warm, timeless look.
“We are seeing a lot of hardwood in the kitchen as this space is no longer a room with four walls but an extension of other gathering spaces adjacent to it,” Hubbard said.
Almost three years ago, The Washington Post called sous vide “couture convenience food.” The cooking process, which involves submerging vacuum-sealed food pouches in a temperature-controlled water bath, is slowly catching on, as cooks like its ease of use and predictability. Along with an immersion circulator, one of the tools needed for sous vide is a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealing removes air from the pouch to prevent foods from oxidizing and spoiling, extending the time you can store foods. A vacuum sealer does more than preserve and portion food — it can also seal opened wine bottles. To keep the kitchen clutter-free, some homeowners are putting the sealer in a drawer.
“It’s a neat feature I think plays into the wellness trend,” said Dan DiClerico, HomeAdvisor home expert.
For some in the Instagram age, it’s often not enough to cook a meal — they have to live-stream and record it cooking.
A smart countertop oven gives home chefs the ability to share their cooking prowess with the world. It also takes the guesswork out of meal preparation by recognizing what is put in the oven and automatically adjusting the temperature and cooking time to the type of food and its weight. It can send push notifications when the meal is nearly done and when it’s finished. It’s not quite automated cooking, but it’s close.
Some smart ovens can be connected to a smart speaker as well. (“Alexa, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.”) The set-and-forget convenience may not appeal to an avid cook but may be a lifesaver to a busy parent.
“I think this is a great use of new technology,” said Sarah Kahn Turner of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath. “To be able to control the temperature of cooking, turn the oven off remotely and view how things are cooking from your phone can only enhance the cooking experience.”