These 7 Kitchen Trends Are Here to Stay Unusual materials, double islands and more—here are the 2021 trends designers love By Cara Gibbs February 18, 2021
Comfort and connection in the kitchen have never been more essential. Four design firms weigh in on the future of all things luxury in the next wave of kitchen features. What’s to come? Seven key trends that designers would do well to buy into today.
The Return of Wood
“My clients are showing a lot more interest in wood cabinets and finishes,” shares Los Angeles–based designer Peti Lau, “specifically, really beautiful natural ash wood, which renders a rustic contemporary vibe.” Down-to-earth by nature but used in a more modern way, wood offers layers of luxury to the kitchen. “People are yearning for a sense of calm and for soothing palettes,” says Lau. Echoing that stance is Los Angeles design duo Cayley Lambur and Lucia Bartholomew of Electric Bowery: “Lots of texture and warmth is important in the kitchen. We are seeing less white and more richness in the overall palette. Whether that comes from a deeper, richer color to the wood, steering away from purely neutral palettes allows for a more personal approach to the kitchen.” Join AD PRO and save 20% on an annual membership Join Now.
“Kitchens are becoming as detailed as possible,” Los Angeles–based AD100 designer Brigette Romanek of Romanek Design Studio declares. “And that’s a good thing. Clients are making their kitchens personal, not necessarily in keeping with the famous triangle [layout between stove, sink, and refrigerator] but rather what works best for them.” The art of details often opens up the conversation to custom work. Lau adds, “I find that there are more customizable options for designers and clients to select different finishes for the appliances. There are more customizable façades and covers to choose from, and that’s what clients request most—functionality and customization for their daily routines. Details like coffee and juice bars are common.”
Houston-based designer Nina Magon of Contour Interior Design sheds light on the double island craze. “This trend adds storage to your kitchen, and it provides more space to prepare food and entertain guests,” she says. With sleek sight lines and abundant counter space, double islands are the ultimate indulgence. “Double islands make a huge difference in kitchens and are the perfect gathering points,” adds Lau. “Having space for them—that’s the true luxury item.”
The End of Upper Cabinets
Thanks to the emergence of double islands, it appears that upper cabinetry may fall into the category of ornamental rather than necessary. “By increasing the functionality and usability, it eliminates the need for upper cabinets, creating an open-concept kitchen,” says Magon. The Electric Bowery team confirms: “Kitchens are designed to be an extension of the living space, so it’s important that the design feel less purely utilitarian.” Their approach? “Incorporate open shelves as areas of display to house beautiful dishes and glassware, but be conscious not to overcrowd them.”
“Appliances are getting smarter,” notes Romanek. Tech advances are no longer confined to media rooms and sound systems but are proving to make some serious breakthroughs in the kitchen. “The integrated smart-technology systems and options catering to the lifestyle of end users have been game-changing, and seemingly grow more advanced by the day,” muses Lau. “Now you can have technology integrated into most functions and appliances, from smart faucets to ovens being controlled by your smartphone to simple touch-closing cabinets. Smart kitchens are really where the luxury kitchen design ethos is heading,” says Magon. Pointing out that the majority of clients are spending increased time in their homes, Magon notes that they “want their kitchens to ease their day-to-day tasks.… Subsequently, technology is leading to more eco-friendly kitchen environments complete with air purifiers for clean air.”
“Most people have rediscovered the joys of cooking on a more regular basis, and kitchen appliances that were once left to collect dust in drawers and deep cabinets are being utilized [more],” point out Lambur and Bartholomew. “Accommodating for a more permanent home for these appliances and gadgets that does not clutter your kitchen is highly desirable.” The solution? Concealed design. Magon touts the benefits of disguised storage: “There are so many options now that remove the cluttered look from counters, such as pop-up plugs, rotating panels that contain storage behind them, and push-to-open cabinets with invisible hardware allowing your materials to take center stage.”
“I’m seeing a big return of old materials used in new ways,” reflects Romanek. “Brass hoods, copper panels, wood cabinets, onyx instead of marble, unique lighting, sinks in different finishes—so much good stuff!” Paralleling Romanek’s sentiments, Magon shares, “Material selections are the most important part of designing a luxury kitchen. The future is more mixed materials such as concrete mixed with glossy natural stone, creating the ultimate impact.”