Nine Residential Kitchen Design Trends For 2021

Real Estate

Kitchens have always been among the hardest-working rooms in our homes, and the Covid-19 pandemic has made this even truer today. While we’re not entertaining in them to protect our households against infection, many Americans are setting up work from home stations on their kitchen islands, creating distance learning setups at their tables, and cooking far more than in the past. This also means more grocery shopping and enhanced storage.

All of these pandemic-driven adaptations, and associated choices like adding personalization and hands-free technology, show up on trend reports for the new year. Many will likely continue past the end of Covid, as awareness of the potential for future viruses and of the links between home and health increase.  Here are nine kitchen design trends that industry leaders are seeing for the new year.

Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery

The large luxury retailer publishes an annual look book highly regarded by industry pros, especially interior and bathroom designers. These are the styles Ferguson is seeing come into its showrooms from the premium brands it carries:

1. Simplicity showing up as a trend is not surprising. When you consider that features like slab-style cabinet doors and simple pulls make sanitizing your kitchen quicker and easier, an excellent case can be made for simple styles in a high stress cycle.  

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2. Eclectic personalization is also trending. Homeowners are getting more creative and personalized with kitchen design choices, maybe as a result of spending so much more time at home. This shows up in blending finishes and materials. It also shows up in bold color choices – including in large ticket items like appliances and cabinetry. Blue is the hot color for 2021, partly for its versatility but also, as the company notes, “its various hues can help create a calming serene environment.”

Houzz

Houzz is a large, popular destination for users seeking inspiration and organization for their projects. As its name implies, this site and app focuses on home-related projects, and its trend reports are compiled from surveying homeowners and home services professionals. This is what the company is seeing for the new year:

3. Storage is key! With 2020 being a year of fewer supermarket trips with bigger hauls, having a place to keep these large purchases became even more essential. Houzz’s survey shows four times the number of projects with added cabinetry as part of kitchen renovations. Homeowners are upgrading their pantries or adding walk-in versions at a higher rate than in the past too. This also points to the bulk buying trend associated with the pandemic.

4. Less openness to other interior spaces is a growing trend. Houzz reports that it began to show up strongly in 2019, then surged 10% in 2020. With people finding new needs for the kitchen to multi-task and more family members spending more time at home, it’s not surprising. At the same time, opening the kitchen to an outdoor area is still popular.

5. Faucets and appliances are going high tech. “High-tech features appear in more than half of upgraded faucets and nearly one-third of upgraded appliances,” the survey reports. Voice control for kitchen faucets is seen as a convenience for busy chefs and as a germ spread inhibitor for busy parents.

National Kitchen & Bath Association

NKBA’s members include designers [myself included], manufacturers, retailers, distributors and allied professionals in this massive category. The association surveys its members annually for its trend reports. Here’s what those pros are seeing for 2021:

6. Technology is showing up in other ways too. Dedicated areas for charging and viewing mobile devices and laptops was the top tech trend at 63%, according to the survey. Technology enabling video communications — Zoom meetings in the kitchen anyone? — and emergency power source for refrigerators came in next at a tied 49%.  

7. Stainless steel is still the reigning appliance finish at 64% of models selected, but integrated door styles that match the cabinetry are a strong second at 52%. This points to a greater investment in kitchen projects, since these integrated appliances are costlier and associated with more luxury projects. These integrated styles are also likelier to be lower maintenance in tandem with the growing popularity of modern slab door styles.

Zillow

Popular real estate search site Zillow also has strong ideas about what homebuyers are interested in for the new year, and also sees trends that took root in 2020 continuing into 2021. Its top 10 home trends include many that reflect the importance of kitchens to a real estate purchase: 

8. Gourmet is going mainstream. “We’ve seen an increase in requests for gourmet kitchens,” the company reports. “This includes bigger cabinets and island additions so homeowners have the space they need to cook their gourmet meals.” Last year, pandemic baking trended. This year, the real estate site is seeing people want more space and features to expand and show off their culinary skills.

9. Working from home gave new people the opportunity to become pet parents in 2020. “As people welcome more furry family member into their households, Zillow expects they will be looking for pet-friendly features in their next home.” Analyses show features like pet washes are commanding higher prices for home listings and homes with fenced backyards are selling faster too.  Pet features in kitchens can include high arc faucets and deep sinks for small pet bathing, pull-out bowl and pet food storage and organizers for other pet products. Since pets, like people, like to be where the action is, dedicated pet spaces may show up there too, (even though veterinarians often recommend feeding them elsewhere in the home for their safety and yours).

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