Experts Weigh In on the Top Kitchen Trends to Avoid in 2021
Trends are cyclical, and while there's a chance linoleum flooring may come back in style, if you're planning on undertaking a full-on kitchen remodel, the last thing you want to do is pick a trend that's outdated or overdone. After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home, and whatever design choices you make can set the tone for the rest of your home's design. Tackling a kitchen remodel can be an expensive project, so you'll want to put some extra care into your design choices - especially if you're thinking of incorporating the latest trends.
To help ensure your kitchen design choices withstand the tests of time, we reached out to design experts, from Chino, CA, all the way to Richmond, VA, to weigh in on kitchen trends to avoid in 2021 and alternatives you can use instead.
Kitchen trends to avoid
Dark painted cabinetry
If you’re opting for darker painted cabinetry, keep the wear and tear of the finishes in mind. Dings, bumps, and scratches from everyday use can be more apparent on a darker surface, leading them to be one kitchen trend to avoid. “Kitchens are the heart of a home, which means they take a lot of wear and tear. All materials will wear, but some wear better than others, so it's best to keep materials and finishes that wear well in mind. Dark painted cabinetry is a kitchen design trend to avoid. Even though it looks beautiful and is in-style today, it wears very quickly, requiring routine touch-ups. If you do want a dark look, go for a dark stain over dark paint, as stains, in general, will stand up to the constant wear and tear. Light stained white oak is a timeless cabinet, and it wears beautifully, concealing significant blemishes from typical use and is always in style.” -Wood & Co.
Monochrome color schemes
Monochrome might be a go-to fashion trend, but it can easily look bland, not to mention less pristine, with the constant use and amount of time we’re spending in our kitchens. “White continues to be on-trend through 2021, but it can be overdone. White on white on white will get you Instagram likes and saved Pins, but when viewed in person, white can fall flat, look cheap, and is boring. Make a remodel memorable by mixing white elements, natural textures, and neutral hues to achieve that light and bright look.” -Dahlia Home Co.
Bulky soffits and kitchen desks
You might be thinking, “what exactly is a soffit and why do I even need one?” While the name may sound unfamiliar, you’ve likely seen them in kitchens or in other parts of your home. Soffits are the box-like structures built between your cabinets and the ceiling to hide wiring and other mechanical components, and depending on how they were built, soffits can make a kitchen look crowded or dated. “Get rid of soffits that aren't necessary. If the soffits above your wall cabinets are hiding venting or pipes and you're stuck with them, that's one thing, but if they are just "decorative," get them out and use that space for taller cabinets and additional storage - raise those cabinets instead.”
Another kitchen trend to avoid is adding a desk area in your kitchen. “Most kitchen desks are being removed as the world becomes more virtual. But if you really need one, make it counter height with a stool so when you are entertaining, you can repurpose the area for platters and/or extra seating.” -Kitchen & Bath Vision
Playing it safe with an all-white kitchen
An all-white color scheme in your kitchen seems like the safest choice, especially if you're looking to attract home buyers. But, kitchen designs are leaning towards creating a warmer, cozier space and aren't afraid to play with texture and color. "Being that a kitchen renovation is one of the most expensive projects one can take on, homeowners should strongly reconsider the use of trends. While adopting the trend of all-white everything might seem like the safest option, these kitchens are often void of character and lack an emotional connection. Dramatic as it sounds, our surroundings serve as extensions of our lives. Try this instead: bring in natural materials like wood or a stone with depth to act as a counterbalance and leave boring behind." -JTW Design
Speckled granite countertops
If you’re an avid HGTV fan, you know that granite countertops are homeowners’ darlings. While granite countertops remain popular choices due to being heat-, scratch-, and stain-resistant, many homeowners are opting for less busy countertop choices. "Speckled granite countertops are not as appealing anymore, and overly-detailed profiles are seen as a bit "too much." Trends are pushing towards engineered stone, such as quartz, with clean and simple patterns and solid colors like whites or grays. Marbled patterns are also gaining in popularity, along with minimalistic designs with simple details, like the eased edge or bevels, that offer a cleaner look." -Oasis Kitchens
Stainless-steel finishes and open-concept kitchens
With more homeowners spending time personalizing their kitchens, many are opting for warmer toned finishes on their appliances to bring a cozy element to this space. “Instead of industrial-looking appliances, black stainless is the popular option now. Get rid of stainless steel because there’s now a wide range of finishes available for your appliances. Yes, we know it’s considered a classic, but it’s practically impossible to keep clean. With all the other options out there (including panels that hide appliances altogether), why waste your time and energy trying to keep fingerprints off your stainless steel? Black stainless and slate didn’t even exist as options five years ago, and who knows what other finishes manufacturers will come up with next year and beyond?”
Another trend that might be on its way out is the open-concept kitchen. “A wall of open shelving is a kitchen trend to avoid in 2021. For most home cooks, it’s an unrealistic way to store glasses and dishes because of how much dirt and grime accumulates between uses. (Yes, even when things are constantly being used, washed, and put away.) Open-concept kitchens may not be entirely out yet, but it’s something that is happening. With no walls, people realized that they did, in fact, need them.” -PFNY Designs
Though a familiar sight in many kitchens, over-the-range microwaves may be a trend worth considering retiring as homeowners begin to favor more universal design principles. "While an over-the-range microwave may be a convenient location, it’s unsightly and would be better located under the counter on a shelf or, even better, as a built-in microwave drawer. This will allow a beautiful decorative range hood to command the attention of your beautiful kitchen rather than the blinking clock of an over-the-range microwave." -Liz Walton Home
Kitchen styles to try instead
Update with a fresh coat of paint
If you love your existing countertops but your cabinets are looking a little tired, painting the cabinets to give them a refresh is a great option. “Painting can save thousands over replacement and can be done without disturbing the existing countertops and flooring in your kitchen. Plus, painting has the added convenience factor and takes far less time to give your kitchen a new look. Another reason to consider painting is if you're happy with the existing layout. If your space is limited or the layout is perfect for the way you use the kitchen, there's not much to gain with tearing it out and starting over to get the same or similar look. I always recommend to clients if you're thinking of painting existing cabinets to also consider purchasing new door and drawer fronts. That way, you can achieve a whole new look and upgrade from dated door styles to more modern ones.” -Wiseman Home Improvement
If you want a simple, timeless look for your kitchen design, opt for flat-panel cabinets. This cabinet style incorporates seamlessly in any modern or contemporary kitchen and has the added cleaning convenience factor. “Whether you prefer woodgrain, high gloss, satin or matte, in white or any of hundreds of color options, affordable, beautiful, and easy to clean, flat-panel cabinets are the keystone of the modern kitchen. You won’t need cotton swabs to clean shaker door seams that collect grease and food particles. For a sanitary and sparkling kitchen, European-style flat panel doors are the kitchen trend of the future.” -Modern Family Kitchens
Introduce some color
While all-white kitchens may continue to be a timeless option, homeowners are beginning to shift towards playing with pops of color and tones in their kitchens. “Instead of retiring a trend, try introducing a new idea - color. White and grey are not the only options for a kitchen. My favorite kitchen ever had beautiful navy blue cabinets. It was striking and timeless.” -Grayson Pratt Interiors
Play with texture
Instead of sticking with the classic all-white kitchens we’re all familiar with, bring in your personality through wood elements. “Since we are using our kitchens more than ever, the classic all-white version, which once seemed so fresh, now feels bland and uninspiring. Bring color and vibrancy into the hub of your home by painting your cabinets a rich green or deep blue, or try pairing that classic white finish with natural wood like white oak or walnut for contrast, texture, and warmth. -Birch Leaf Interiors
Invest in improving your kitchen’s functionality
Even if your kitchen has the latest and greatest innovations, trends, or technology, cooking and preparing food will become a chore without a functional kitchen design. "Trends come and go, don't invest too much time on trends. Instead, invest time in the functionality of the kitchen. For example, a pantry is a great space saver, and it keeps the kitchen organized. It doesn't have to be big, and it will keep the kitchen looking so much cleaner." -Kanika Design
Cabinets are the first thing people notice when stepping into a kitchen, and besides being the most noticeable element, it’s also the most used. "Cabinet functionality is essential in planning a kitchen, especially if it's small. Never mistake upper cabinetry in a kitchen as a necessity. If the base cabinetry is carefully thought out and designed, floating shelving with backlighting can actually be a focal point in the kitchen. Having the right cabinets for your space will help with organization, look modern, neat, and, most importantly, make your everyday life easier." -AC Remodeling
Originally published by Redfin