Top 10 kitchen trends

A kitchen remodel not only adds significant value to your home, but it can also improve your quality of life. If you are thinking of giving your outdated kitchen a much needed makeover, it is important to consider current kitchen trends. Julie Cosyns, owner of Designer Cucine, offers some insight on the top 10 international kitchen trends:

1. Taking heed of the environment
Eco-friendliness and sustainability is all the rage these days, but most notably in the kitchen, where a few small changes can make a significant impact. More and more of today’s buyers are looking for planet-friendly features, with measurable benefits, says Cosyns: “Energy- and water-efficient appliances are increasingly sought after — in fact, most consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable features, provided that there is a tangible return on investment in the long run.” She notes that reclaimed, recycled and raw materials also remain very popular for both aesthetic and altruistic reasons.

2. Multi-functional convenience
Kitchens are the hub of the home and an area that is big on multitasking, explains Cosyns: “As homes get increasingly smaller, many of the functions that previously had their own designated areas, such as the laundry room, dining room, and home office for example, are now being absorbed into the kitchen area. Including all this extra functionality into one room takes careful planning — space-saving solutions are a great help and can include banquette seating, hideaway laundry appliances, a built-in workspace and sit-down eating area.”

3. Small, dynamite packages
As homes get smaller, kitchens are following suit and getting proportionality smaller as well. As a result, Cosyns says that many manufacturers have introduced new lines of streamlined appliances as an alternative to the chunky, industrial-grade craze from a year or two back.

“Kitchen design has also followed suit, with manufacturers and builders using every square centimetre of space, and including various space-saving features such as skinny, vertical pantries, pullout cabinets and spice racks, and wine cubbies or storage solutions that fill odd cavities. Also, various design tricks, such as horizontal lines, lighter finishes, mirrored surfaces and backsplashes, and diagonal patterns on the floor and ceiling also help visually ‘grow’ the space,” she notes.

4. The high-tech influence
Keeping up with trends, today’s kitchen is featuring increasingly more technology, making our lives easier and the kitchen experience more enjoyable, says Cosyns: “From flat-screen TVs and computer-based entertainment systems, to retracting ventilation hoods, gas burners, and ‘smart’ appliances. Other small additions that have become popular include cell phone or iPod charging stations, and Wi-Fi Internet access.”

5. The foodie kitchen
“As we focus more on a healthy lifestyle, there has been a cultural shift towards culinary appreciation and fresh food preparation, which has been bolstered by the growth in popularity of celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson for example,” says Cosyns.

This trend has seen the introduction of restaurant-grade appliances and features that promote fresh, healthy food preparation, which include commercial-grade gas stoves, filtered faucets, refrigerators with multiple cooling and humidity settings to keep food fresher for longer, and moisture-adding baking features in ovens for example.

6. Sleek and concealed
Modern kitchens often form part of an open-plan living area, and hence, their design pivots on the concept of concealment, says Cosyns: “Über modern kitchen feature generous worktops alongside spacious, tall units, with sliding fronts that reveal kitchen appliances, shelving, and well-planned storage options. Their sleek and subtle designed negates the need for hanging wall units and handles, transforming the kitchen into a refined extension of the living area.”

7. Colour that packs a punch
Cosyns says that bold splashes of vibrant colour are really hot at the moment: “Colourful paint, wallpaper, cabinets, backsplashes and tiles in bright colours offers a great juxtaposition to an earthy and otherwise monochromatic colour scheme — it really livens the area up!” She says that vivid blues, oranges, corals and purples are especially popular.

8. A demand for authenticity
The popularity of authentic wood is still very much in vogue, and included in the cabinetry and the flooring, it provides a premium and luxurious feeling and an organic aesthetic.

Other natural materials that are big in the kitchen environment include granite and composite stone countertops, as well as various sandstone accents. “For a more contemporary rhetoric, the organic materials are amalgamated with modern materials, such as glass, stainless steel and laminate for example,” says Cosyns.

9. The lighter side of kitchens
In a high traffic, work area such as the kitchen, good lighting is essential, explains Cosyns: “The key to getting lighting right in the kitchen, is to create a layered lighting design that focuses on decorative, ambient, task and accent lighting.

“Decorative light fixtures help carry forth a theme or style, and supplement the room’s overall brightness. Task lighting is usually installed under cabinets or in the form of pendant lighting directly over the work surfaces. Ambient lighting is designed to provide an overall glow, while accent lighting highlights specific points of interest, such art niches for example.”

10. Value and affordability
Although we seem to be past the worst of the global recession, times remain tight and as a result, Cosyns says that consumers are constantly on the lookout for getting more bang for their buck: “Affordability and value for money is a big concern amongst consumers today — mortgages for palaces are no longer easily attainable and as such, most homeowners are working within tighter budgets.

“Most consumers are under the false impression that imported Italian kitchens are only accessible to the very rich, but there are companies, such as Designer Cucine for example, that offer exclusive kitchens with a clear cut design, of sure effect, solid and made with great care in materials to satisfy an attentive and demanding public who love to cook and entertain — for an incredibly affordable price.”

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