Americans briefly scaled back the scope of home renovation projects after the recession began nearly a decade ago, says interior designer and “HGTV Design Star” judge Vern Yip. But even during the peak of that focus on smaller, more sustainable living, the size and complexity of kitchen designs continued to grow.
“The kitchen is the heart of the home,” Yip says, and people see it as good place to spend money and recoup the investment when they sell their home.
What’s trending in kitchen design as 2017 approaches? We’ve asked Yip and two other interior design experts — Caleb Anderson, co-founder of the New York-based design firm Drake/Anderson, and Brian Patrick Flynn, interior designer for HGTV’s Urban Oasis 2016 home giveaway — to share their favorite innovations and thoughts on which trending design choices will stand the test of time.
Think black and white
Black and white are the trendiest colors now for kitchen design, and Flynn points out that they’re also timeless. A black and white palette works with virtually any accent color, he says, so “if you go black and white, you really only have to spend once.”
Right now, “black appliances with more of a matte finish” are among Flynn’s favorites.
Yip says cabinets in both black and white are popular, and look great mixed together.
That’s another trend all three designers are seeing: upper and lower cabinets done in different finishes and materials. Anderson recently designed a kitchen in London that has upper cabinets made of metal and glass, with lower cabinets made of cerused wood. “They need to complement each other,” he says, “but everything doesn’t have to match.”
Anderson also notes that it’s popular to design a kitchen island out of different materials than the cabinets and countertops. That puts a personal stamp on the room, especially if you make your island out of a distinctive piece of furniture, like a vintage cabinet.
By using popular materials in unique ways, you can design a kitchen that feels current but won’t look dated as trends change. Flynn is a fan of that approach: For HGTV’s Urban Oasis giveaway house this year, he chose a reflective, black marble mosaic tile for the kitchen walls, from the counter all the way up to the ceiling. The look is on-trend, but has a classic beauty that won’t need renovating in a few years.
He also used concrete for the countertops, a popular option now but one with a classic simplicity. Along with concrete, Anderson and Yip says quartz countertops are popular. Quartz is more durable than marble, which can easily stain, and more consistent in color throughout a large slab.
Textured and colored glass is another way to jump on a trend in ways that reflect your own style, Anderson says. He’s seeing glass used to surround the hoods above stoves, for backsplashes and as cabinet fronts.
Mix your metals
Gold, brass and other yellow-toned metal finishes have been popular for several years, says Yip, and now white metal finishes like chrome, pewter and stainless steel are catching on too.
Anderson recently used a mix of black and steel finishes in one kitchen, along with brass.
All three designers suggest going with your favorites and feeling free to mix and match.
“The hardware in your kitchen is sort of like the jewelry,” and you can have fun adding that bit of bling, Yip says. Changing your hardware is a nice way to update the kitchen without having to change the cabinets.
You can also bring in a light fixture with a metal that’s different from your cabinet hardware. Yip is seeing many clients opting to splurge on dramatic lighting in the kitchen, rather than in the dining room.
“The old way of thinking is you spend thousands of dollars on the crystal chandelier over the dining table, but lighting over the kitchen was practical,” he says. Now, there’s more emphasis on kitchen lighting “that doesn’t feel functional but has a really polished aesthetic quality.”
Tech isn’t an afterthought
Flynn used a Wi-Fi-enabled oven (easily controlled from a smartphone) in the Urban Oasis house, as well as a refrigerator equipped with cameras accessible from a digital app, so you can see what you have inside it.
“While you are out, you can decide on the fly what to buy and bring home to be stocked up for dinner,” he says.
Smaller appliances are a priority for many homeowners. “People tend to clutter their countertops with small appliances or put them in the cabinet and have to pull them out,” Anderson says. So designers now routinely figure in storage space where small appliances can be concealed but easily accessed.
Also, says Anderson, “Clients have so many devices, smart devices,” that they need “an area in the kitchen that’s devoted to USB ports and chargers.”