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8 Interior Design Ideas to Update Your Kitchen

Architects and other design pros share new kitchen trends.

By Yelena Moroz Alpert
Thu, Nov 4, 2021Grey Clock 5 min

IF EVERYTHING wants to stand out, nothing will,” said Kelsey Hills, a Dallas homeowner who hired a local pro to quiet the centre of her house, the kitchen. Architect and designer Eddie Maestri infused the room with white oak—on the floor, flat-front cabinets and island. “Having a kitchen without a lot of competing design elements calms me,” said Mrs. Hills.

Enter the era of seamless kitchens. “Visual cues are changing,” said Mr. Maestri. Gone are look-at-me hoods and, for some, hulking marble islands. Panelled cabinets bejewelled with pulls are giving way to overlay fronts and hidden hardware. The visual cacophony of open shelves is history.

When Ferguson Kitchen, Bath & Lighting Gallery—a showroom retailer based in Newport News, Va.—recently surveyed homeowners on which room they wished to redesign, 47% replied “the kitchen,” more than chose any other room in the house. If you share that impulse, here are five ideas to update your kitchen, plus the trends designers consider passé.

IN: Woody Kitchens

“Ninety per cent of our clients are doing all wood, compared to only 30% to 40% of clients who wanted all wood a year or two ago,” said Candace Matlock, senior designer at Italkraft, a design consulting firm in Miami. The grainy finishes conjure a “relaxing feeling, like a spa,” she said. A recent Miami Beach kitchen combines tropical and minimalist design, using floor-to-ceiling teak veneer and white oak flooring. “The wood millwork gives warmth to the barefoot elegance of the home,” said Kobi Karp, the Miami architect on the project.

OUT: The stark contrast of coal grey cabinets and white counters is the antithesis of warmth.

IN: Hidden Hoods

Designers are tucking stove vents behind cabinets or drywall both to save money and to shift the emphasis to less-prosaic features. “[A kitchen’s] visual statement should be more than an appliance,” said Mr. Maestri, who hid a vent behind a false cabinet front so a brass-inlaid backsplash of black marble could shine.

OUT: Ostentatious hoods

IN: Tablelike Islands

In the New York City kitchen above, design gallery and consulting firm Colony opted for the airiness and simplicity of a Parson’s-inspired white oak table instead of a voluminous island. In Chicago, interior designer Claire Staszak worked with a maker on Etsy to transform a pine table into a vintage-tinged country-style piece that suited a tight kitchen space. “The table brought character to the white kitchen, and unlike a solid island, created a feeling of circulation,” she said. Another perk: Portability offers more layout flexibility.

OUT: Islands with two levels—one counter height, the second raised to accommodate bar stools—skew commercial. Plus, “it cuts usable food-prep surface in half,” Ms. Staszak said.

IN: Glass Cabinets

See-through storage is clearly back but not in a traditional “grandma’s china cabinet” way, observed Mr. Maestri, who opted for reeded-glass panels set in black steel to complement a noir-and-brass backsplash behind the cooktop (shown left). The groovy glass not only adds texture but camouflages storage so “you see a ghost of what’s there,” he said. Ms. Staszak invigorates more-traditional, bevelled-glass cabinets by lining the interior with peek-a-boo Schumacher wallpaper.

OUT: Open shelving is left in the greasy dust.

IN: Integrated Stove Tops

Rather than installing range-oven units, some designers are opting for the cleaner look of a stove top only, set into counter material, with ovens installed elsewhere. The range’s control knobs can then be integrated into material that matches the lower cabinets or counter material. In an East Hampton, N.Y., cottage, architect and designer Noam Dvir fused the range components into terrazzo-like Ceppo di Gré stone, using “the heavy marble like wrapping paper.” A polished stretch of stone flows seamlessly from a backsplash into a counter (into which the stove top is sunk) and then to a fascia for the knobs.

OUT: A standard range that disrupts visual continuity.

IN: Brass and Blue

The subtle wink of colour in a kitchen bathed in blue can ease you out of sterile, snow-white cabinetry. “Calming, subtle and versatile, soft blues can make spaces feel more open and airier,” said Arianna Cesa, colour marketing and development specialist at Benjamin Moore. Dallas interior designer Gaia Guidi Filippi woke up these original Shaker cabinets with Benjamin Moore’s Van Courtland Blue, then added hardware in brass, a “sunnier, softer” metal. Bonus: Homes whose real-estate listings mention brass can sell for almost 2% more than expected, according to recent research by real estate website Zillow.

OUT: White cabinets outfitted with chrome details can look lab-like and dated.

IN: Sky-High Backsplashes

“The backsplash has evolved from an accent to a feature,” said New York designer Elena Frampton, who used blue-grey, floral tile on kitchen walls that she had liberated from upper cabinets. “Taking the tile from counter to ceiling and flanking the windows packs a punch,” and proves much more stylish than a stack of appliances or cabinets, she said.

OUT: Solid tiles in a smooth finish relegated to a strip between countertop and cabinet.

IN: Custom Pet Stations

“Your pets are members of your family, why not give them a beautiful space to enjoy their food and water?” said Jen Samson, an interior designer in Laguna Beach, Calif. For her canine-loving clients, Ms. Samson added a pot filler—a faucet on an extendable arm, easily plumbed from an existing island sink—and lined the puppy oasis with Calatorao marble to match the countertops. Brass fixtures kept the station in-line with the rest of the kitchen’s hardware. “It’s definitely a space saver,” Ms. Samson noted.

OUT: Pet water bowls skidding along the kitchen floor like hockey pucks, spilling contents on their way.


Reprinted by permission of WSJ. Magazine. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: November 2, 2021


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