11 Splashy Kitchen Trends

From pullout recycling bins to quartz counters, these features will update your room

Photo By: Merillat

Photo By: Designer, Beth Haley Design

Photo By: Designer, Beth Haley Design

Photo By: Miele

Photo By: Designer, Tina Muller

Photo By: Merillat

Photo By: Sponsor, Danenberg Design

Photo By: LG

Photo By: Designer, Velvet Hammerschmidt

Photo By: Designer, Lisa Stanley

Lighter, Brighter Kitchens

Make room for windows. By using smart storage strategies like extending cabinets to ceilings, you can open up the kitchen and sacrifice some wall space in these areas.

Convenient Kitchen Cabinetry

Aside from featuring soft-close drawers and doors (once a luxury, now a "must"), cabinetry today works overtime to organize and improve the efficiency of the kitchen design. Cabinetry works for the kitchen — it has become much more than a place to store stuff. Image courtesy of Merillat

Universal Design

There are more features today that allow homeowners to age in place, applying Universal Design principles. Base cabinet drawers, large-loop hardware, drawer microwaves and movable countertops accommodate any chef, young or old. Design by Beth Haley in Nashville

Right-Sized Spaces

The kitchen is the soul of the home, the center of activity. But that doesn't necessarily mean the space must be large. In fact, Peterson says kitchens are shrinking down from recent overblown dimensions and functioning as well, if not better. "We've long seen kitchens as the center of family life, with places for doing homework, working online, along with cooking and dining," she relates. "After years of growing larger, kitchens are becoming smaller, more compact, using technologies adapted from boat design, such as high-quality custom cabinetry." Design by Beth Haley in Nashville

Time-Saving Kitchen Appliances

"We talk about efficiency, but in the kitchen that really means time savings," says Nancy Divita, showroom director at Trevarrow Inc. Sophisticated appliances help us maximize every minute so we can spend more time living in the kitchen and less time cooking. For example, a convection microwave works as a true speed oven. Induction cooktops perform faster. A good convection oven allows you to produce food quicker than a traditional bake/roast/broil oven. Image courtesy of Miele

Kitchen Cabinet Storage

Rather than floating wall cabinets, designers like Jorge Castillo of Jorge Castillo Designs in Miami, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, are installing floor-to-ceiling walls of cabinetry made from interesting exotic wood, such as sapele or anaglade. His contemporary designs feature lacquered wood finish, a return of 1970s design, "but not as strong as it was back then," he says.

The storage wall creates a backdrop for the kitchen and allows space for stowing away appliances, cookbooks, dishes, bakeware and more. Design by Tina Muller in Glen Ellyn, Ill.

Pullout Kitchen Cabinets

Pullout cabinets can house several bins for recycling glass, plastic, periodicals and waste. Partitioned bins with a sealing top prevent odor and leakage; foot-operated bins allow for touch-free use. Though not mainstream, compost systems are available for kitchens and adjacent spaces (mudrooms), some models operating with energy from a light bulb.

Before choosing a cabinet configuration for waste collection, find out what your city's recycling requirements are and will be in the future. For instance, if the city doesn't require separation of glass and plastic now but could move in that direction, you'll want to plan for an additional bin in your design. Image courtesy of Merillat

Kitchen Backsplash Styles

Extending the backsplash to the ceiling and using materials such as statuary marble, mosaic glass tile mixed with natural stone, creates an artistic focal point in a kitchen space. Photo by Rio Costantini. Design by Danenberg Design

Quartz Countertops

Move over granite. Quartz and similar man-made surfaces generally come with a warranty, and they do not need to be sealed like granite does. Plus, they are easy to clean with soap and water. "It is a material traditionally used in hospital labs, and the reason it's so good for kitchens is because it is not porous, so it is not going to absorb (spills) and stain," Castillo says.

Castillo chooses quartz surfaces for their consistent look, which provides a sleek and clean surface so he can afford to embellish the backsplash without getting too busy. Image courtesy of LG Hausys Co.

Exotic Wood

Maples are phasing out and cherries and darker woods are in for Brad Burgin, Burgin Construction Inc. in North Tustin, Calif. He also specifies a lot of mahogany and bamboo. "Alternative woods are gaining popularity," he notices, adding that these varieties tend to be more expensive. But for an Asian-themed kitchen, nothing beats bamboo, which offers neat, slender veining when stained. This kitchen features exotic wood veneers and a black-brown bamboo shade that gives the space a little extra flair. Design by Velvet Hammerschmidt

Specialty Kitchen Lighting

There is task lighting, cabinet lighting and smart systems that are programmed for entertaining, cooking or homework time. Lighting draws the eye to interesting surfaces and improves the overall functionality of a kitchen. "The lighting is what makes a kitchen — it creates a feel and an aura for the space," says Daniel Steinkoler, Superior Home Services Inc., Washington, D.C. Design by Lisa Stanley

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