17 Top Kitchen Design Trends

Kitchens are undeniably the heart of today's homes so, understandably, you want your kitchen to look its best. Even if you aren't in the market for a total re-do, one or two trendy updates will bring your kitchen into the 21st century.
By: Karin Beuerlein and H. Camille Smith
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Photo By: Wellborn Cabinets

Photo By: Blum

Photo By: Courtesy of IKEA

Photo By: Kohler

Photo By: Hafele

Photo By: Moen ©Dave Dickerson

Photo By: Wilsonart

Photo By: Caesarstone

Photo By: EnGrain

Photo By: Ikea

Photo By: Kohler

Gray is the New White

Wondering what color to paint your cabinets? The kitchen industry's leading manufacturers say that while white cabinets continue to be tops, gray is the shade they're betting on to break white's top spot. This kitchen by Wellborn pairs soft gray cabinets with richly stained wood showcasing yet another kitchen trend — combining cabinet colors is a trendy look that's holding strong. Image courtesy of Wellborn Cabinets

Opt for New Functionality

Not only is the color of kitchen cabinets changing — hardware manufacturers, like Blum, are changing the way cabinet doors and drawers function. These hydraulic, easy-close doors fold up and out of the way with the touch of a button making them perfect for kitchens where space is an issue. Image courtesy of Blum

Classic Black and White Palette

The look may change as styles evolve, but the appeal of a black-and-white kitchen never dies. It's all about high contrast — this design from IKEA juxtaposes white lacquer cabinets (from IKEA's LIDINGÖ line) and Absolute Black granite countertops, but it also benefits from the tension between country and modern. Warm rustic hardwood floors are an effective counterpoint to sleek cabinet materials. Image courtesy of IKEA

Fresh Hues for Sinks

Like kitchen cabinets, sinks are trending away from basic white or stainless steel. This eye-catching green apron-front sink by Kohler was designed by tastemaker Jonathan Adler. A colorful sink is a great way to pop in a small amount of color in a neutral kitchen or make it more of a focal point by using the same hue in the backsplash. Image courtesy of Kohler

Choose Bold Fixtures

Bold color isn't the only way to create excitement. Kitchen designer Vasi Ypsilantis used these oversized light fixtures with black fabric shades from Tech Lighting to add some wow: "They're about 2 feet in diameter and are slightly larger than you would expect for the space," she says. "But they give a great sense of depth perception and create drama in a room with a typical low ceiling." The luxurious cabinets are Poggenpohl's Marsh Oak Veneer with a rich near-black stain. Image courtesy of Poggenpohl

Contrast Light and Shadow

In the same kitchen, Vasi chose Caesarstone "Blizzard" for the countertops and used a glass mosaic backsplash from Mixed-Up Mosaics that combines milky white and eggplant colors with a mirrored tile. "Keeping the cabinets such a dark finish in a small space worries most homeowners because they think it will make the kitchen look smaller," she says. "But it actually creates drama, as long as the countertops and backsplashes are kept light or white to balance light and dark in the space." Design by Vasi Ypsilantis

Maximize Kitchen Storage

Kitchen storage is always an issue, especially for apartment dwellers or any homeowner whose kitchen is short on space. To remedy this, manufacturers like Hafele are doubling up storage in new, custom kitchens with clever multi-tiered drawers. Image courtesy of Hafele

Add In Automation

The kitchen of the future is here today. From sensor-activated lights that illuminate the kitchen only when it's in use to meat thermometers that alert your smartphone when dinner is done, kitchen technology is here to make your life easier. If you're new to automation, a great introductory product is a hands-free faucet, like this one by Moen. Perfect for homes with small children who can't yet reach the handle or any kitchen where busy cooks often have sticky hands. Image courtesy of Moen

Go Commercial-Grade

This residential kitchen with commercial flair was designed by Poggenpohl team Tedd McKee and Rosemary Porto in collaboration with architecture firm CUBE 3 Studio. Functionally, the room was laid out to maximize prep space for cooking; visually, the sense of immense space was heightened by using three different types of engineered stone for the backsplash, the countertop and the island topper. The neutral background is broken with a dash of bright orange in the light fixtures — an easily changeable feature when you're in the mood for a different color. Image courtesy of Poggenpohl

Save Money With a Look-Alike

Countertops continue to define a kitchen's style — but they don't have to be a budget-buster. This granite look-alike from Wilsonart is actually laminate but unlike previous laminate countertops features a more realistic, larger stone pattern and rounded edge for a high-end granite look at a fraction of the price. Image courtesy of Wilsonart

New Colors for Quartz

Along with natural stone, quartz countertops continue to be tops. Caesarstone recently introduced a line of six neutral colors for its durable quartz countertops. Shown is the grayish-beige "Linen," whose subtle color gradation lends itself well to sleek contemporary designs. Nonporous and are resistant to heat, quartz countertops are also resistant to spills and scratches, making them a smart choice for families or busy cooks. Image courtesy of Caesarstone

Mix Countertop Materials

if you're in the market for a fashion-forward countertop, granite, quartz and laminate are no longer your only choices. Wood countertops are coming on strong. This kitchen by EnGrain combines the warmth of wood with cool Calacatta marble for the best of both worlds. Image courtesy of EnGrain

Timeless Farmhouse Flair

Kohler's apron-front cast-iron sinks come in a variety of colors, including new neutral tones Dune, a soft sandy shade, and Suede, a dark hue that pairs well with granite countertops. "Apron-front sinks have never gone out of style," says interior designer Christine Baumann. "They add a timeless focal point to any kitchen. From a practical standpoint, they're deep enough to hold large pots and platters for easier cleanup — a shorter person can even benefit from better access to the sink." Christine notes that because of their visual weight, apron-front sinks are best suited to medium-size or large kitchens. Image courtesy of Kohler

Marry the Kitchen to Your Home's Style

"Gone are the days when kitchens were just kitchens — now they're so pretty they could be any room of the house, says designer Jo Ann Alston of her French Normandy-style design. Jo Ann integrated the appliances for a seamless look and combined light fixtures with different styles and finishes to give the look of having been acquired over time rather than purchased all at once. The mixed gray and brown tones in the Chinese slate and oak flooring complement the island's Jerusalem gold limestone countertop, offering a rich look that never strays far from a neutral color midpoint.

From: Jo Ann Alston

Contemporary Combo

Designer Mark Donnell and architect Michael Cook chose the finishes in this open kitchen to coordinate with the existing tile floor. The Poggenpohl cabinetry in Curit (a warm reddish brown), Titan Gray and Light Yellow makes a cozy combination. Plus, using flat-front wood veneer cabinets like these along with a traditional wood-plank table gives this midcentury home a contemporary vibe. Image courtesy of Poggenpohl

Flexible Palette

"Keeping a kitchen neutral allows you to personalize it to reflect your style," says IKEA spokesperson Mary Ann Barroso. "This RAMSJÖ kitchen in red-brown can be matched to be on trend with lavenders, purples and mauves — we have a kitchen in our showroom accessorized that way right now." The real treat in this otherwise traditional kitchen is the unexpected light fixtures: IKEA's industrial-chic OTTAVA pendant lamps in aluminum, with shades made of mouth-blown glass. Image courtesy of IKEA

Opt for Architectural Lines

Sometimes a touch of modern architecture is all you need to update your look. Kohler's Purist faucet line has a minimalist profile, a 360-degree swivel spout, lever handles, and high clearance for pots and pans. All finishes are complementary to a neutral palette: Polished Chrome (shown), Vibrant Polished Nickel, Matte Black and Vibrant Stainless. Image courtesy of Kohler