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Designing Kitchens with Personalities: What’s Popular Right Now

by | Dec 17, 2018 | Inspire |

Kitchens are often called the hub of the home, where everyone gathers to eat and drink, start their days, or end their evenings. Kitchens are also one of the most popular rooms of the home to renovate and an opportunity to really let a family’s personality shine through their choices of cabinetry, floors, and paint, among other things. While natural stone has often been used throughout the kitchen space, experts agree that homeowners today are more mindful of how they use the material and are showing off its true beauty.

Trends in Kitchens

When it comes to kitchen trends, Suzanne Shumaker, principal of Shumaker Design + Build Associates, LLC, is noticing the mixing of materials, including natural stones: two different types of stone for countertops, or a kitchen island that is different from the perimeter countertops. Homeowners are choosing stainless steel appliances with brass hardware and light fixtures. She’s seeing it in the use of cabinetry, too—for example, pairing white upper cabinets with a fun contrasting color on the base.

Custom Valencia Waterjet in Calacatta Gold with Purple Glass. Houzz photo by Artistic Tile.

Nancy Epstein, founder & CEO of Artistic Tile, is definitely seeing more color in kitchens designed today. Where kitchens have been dominated by white over the past several years, Epstein is delighted to see color finally making a comeback. “We’re seeing more ornate and colorful backsplashes, and in a continuing trend, those backsplashes are now going up the entire wall behind stoves and above countertops,” she says. “Where designers once created smaller decorative panels, now they’re using more decorative elements on the entire backsplash, and turning backsplashes into feature walls that envelop hoods, surround cabinets, and reach up to the ceiling.”

Epstein is also seeing use of waterfalled slabs for countertops and islands, and a move toward the modern minimal look of slabs flowing from countertops up onto backsplashes, and waterfalled at the countertop edges so they run from ceiling to floor, with vein-matching or book-matching across each component.

Natural stone’s millennia-long popularity in kitchens has not flagged one bit, and Epstein and her team are seeing movement towards more highly veined materials and back towards more colorful natural stone. That’s not to say it’s all about color all the time. “White and grey will likely remain popular for several more years, but more adventurous designers and homeowners are beginning to embrace striking stone like Invisible Grey, Botanic Green, and Fusion Wow, whose intense movement and dramatic colors make a statement out of a surface,” explains Epstein.

Natural Quartzite, Misto, 3cm polished from Terrazo and Marble Supply – Photography- Suzanne Shumaker for Shumaker Design + Build

“For kitchens, many homeowners are attracted to natural quartzite, which has less acid sensitivity than marble,” adds Epstein. “Azul Bochira is a great example of a beautiful, colorful natural quartzite, with sea blue tones and wispy clouds – it’s really quite beautiful, but I’m biased towards blue. Honed surfaces are the most popular for kitchens, as they minimize the appearance of etching on natural stone.”

Shumaker is noticing homeowners choosing different kinds of textures to add interest in their kitchens. She’s also noticing they’re choosing less of the high-polished materials and turning to more leathered and suede finishes, which she calls a casual sophisticated finish which even disguises fingerprints and watermarks.

“One of my favorites is a black granite with light grey veining in a leathered finish,” Shumaker says. “It has the look of soapstone, but is more durable with less maintenance.”

She’s also seeing natural stone being used in unique ways that take advantage of its hardiness as a material. Shumaker’s clients love the natural quartzites that have elegant veining like marble. “The natural quartzites are harder than marbles, more stain resistant with less chance of chipping,” she says.

Make a Statement in the Kitchen Using Natural Stone

For those who really want to make their kitchen stand out, natural stone is a great way to create a statement piece.

Virginia Mist Granite,3cm leathered from MGSI – Photography- Suzanne Shumaker for Shumaker Design + Build Associates, LLC

“Choose a colorful slab as the centerpiece and decorate around it,” recommends Epstein. “Go for monotone, or high contrast themes. Other options including adding light under your cabinets to highlight your backsplash, and book-match, or vein-match whenever you can. “Definitely push your backsplash as high up as you can, tile your floor, and waterfall your countertops,” she adds.

A kitchen needs a design element that creates a focal point, according to Shumaker. She and her team then carefully pair that focal point with other materials that won’t compete with the core piece. Neutralizing some elements, so there are layers of interests, is the key. “It could be a highly-saturated orange cabinet wall, then pairing it with natural wood cabinetry (the neutral), with one more color like a deep turquoise blue backsplash,” she adds.

What to Consider if Planning a Kitchen Update or Remodel in 2019

Calacatta gold kitchen with a pizza oven! Houzz Photo by Artistic Tile.

Not everyone needs to completely overhaul their kitchen to update it. Changing out small details with thoughtful materials can update a kitchen without needing a remodel.

“Updating your backsplash or countertop will make a huge difference in your kitchen’s aesthetic,” says Epstein, who updates her own backsplash once every 15-20 years. “If you choose timeless materials, you shouldn’t need to update it any more frequently than that. If you need a complete overhaul, dig in, and do it!”

Shumaker recommends replacing countertops with natural stone, painting existing cabinetry, and adding new cabinet pulls. Even a few new light fixtures can go a long way, she adds.

She also recommends hiring a professional to help, even for smaller projects. “They can look at the larger picture and plan a more cohesive design,” says Shumaker.