Tomorrow’s Kitchen, Today

Filed in Design, Housing Trends by on October 19, 2017 1 Comment

Honored by the Best in American Living Awards, this open floor plan kitchen was designed and built by Housing Design Matters and Sabal Homes in Summerville, S.C. Photo by Johnson Pictures Inc.

Home builders and their merchandisers know that the kitchen is the most important room in the house – and where buyers are most likely to invest in additional features and options.

NAHB asked two experts who serve on the Design Committee and National Sales and Marketing Council to talk about the kitchen of 2018: What are the common elements of successful kitchen design? What trends seem to be gathering steam?

An open floor plan is pretty much a given, says Mary DeWalt, president of Mary Dewalt Design Group in Austin, Texas. “It’s open to all the other rooms, so it’s very important that it’s designed well,” she said. “People want their kitchens to be exciting and they want to impress, especially the millennials and active adults, who share a similar lifestyle” of rounding up their friends and family to cook and enjoy a glass of wine in their large, comfortable kitchens.

“We are always looking for opportunities to make sure the kitchen looks less like a workspace and more like a living space,” said Lita Dirks, CEO of Lita Dirks & Co., an interior designer firm based in Greenwood Village, Colorado. “Whether it’s open to the great room or to an outside living space, today’s kitchen is at the center of everything we do.”

And what are these home owners doing? They certainly aren’t displaying knickknacks on their cool, clean marble and engineered quartz countertops. “They’re looking for a simple, horizontal line – even the cabinet pulls are being placed in a more horizontal direction,” Dirk said. “The cabinets are going all the way to the ceiling or to the soffitt above, and it’s the cabinets, the tiles, the beautiful materials that create the interest – they aren’t looking to display a collection of vases above.”

J. Hirsch Interior Design created the kitchen island for the Best in American Living 2016 Home of the Year, built by Bynum Custom Homes in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. Photo by Emily Jenkins Followill.

They want kitchen islands. Big islands. “People are eating at their islands, and the breakfast area is more of a gathering place,” said DeWalt. Some would even prefer to swap the kitchen table for a comfortable pair of chairs to sit and scroll through a tablet or phone.

And if the home buyer wants to pay bills at the island, that means the space for the old kitchen desk “command center” may be able to be replaced with a beverage center: a cabinet and countertop section with a sink, icemaker and mini-fridge to let guests and hungry children pour their own drinks or get their own snacks. “The action around the refrigerator can go away,” leaving the cook in peace, said Dirks.

Storage remains very important, and if stuff can’t fit in these new streamlined cabinets and expanded islands, home builders are taking the expanded mudroom trend and going a step further. “In some markets, we are seeing the ‘messy kitchen,’ with a sink, additional storage and maybe a dishwasher. No matter how beautiful buyers want their homes to be, utility and operations within the space must be addressed,” Dirks said.

Steam ovens, warming drawers and induction cooktops are growing in popularity this year, and while appliances are still likely to be stainless steel, black stainless – which is almost black – is also growing in popularity among kitchen appliances. White kitchens are still big. “It adds lightness and brightness to every room and it’s not going away any time soon,” said DeWalt. “But we are also seeing more navy blue, smoky grays and taupe” as accent colors or as second colors for the bottom cabinets, she said.

Mostly, both designers agree, it’s easier than ever to offer choices so that buyers can create a custom kitchen even in production homes. “Options with cabinet companies are pretty exciting,” said DeWalt. Deep drawers for pots and small appliances, lots of storage – if you want it, they probably have it.”

“There are so many options in the way we use our kitchens and see our kitchens so they can be artful and functional at the same time,” said Dirks.

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  1. Tom Reilly says:

    We are seeing similar trends in the Prescott Az area. In our mild 4 season climate thought, a major trend is large doors that access an outdoor space and outdoor kitchen as well.

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