What’s cooking: The trends shaping kitchen design today


The latest in kitchen trends, according to Richmond designers

If you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen, I can be the voice of recent experience – if not completely by choice. A couple of times since last summer, I’ve shared with RTD readers that my house suffered serious damage from a major storm in July. But the upside (if there is such a thing with storm damage) was that within the insurance settlement budget, I got to redo the kitchen. So I spent a good portion of last summer and fall scouring magazines, talking to stylists and learning what’s hot and what’s not in kitchen trends. Here’s some of what I did and learned during my kitchen renovation, as well as some advice from local interior designers about kitchen design trends.


First up, everybody wanted to talk to me about kitchen counters! Quartz and granite counters are on the rise, local experts say. “The quartz industry has really bloomed. They have the look of marble, but they’re more durable, won’t stain and require no maintenance,” designer Sara Hillery said. And even though there are some suggestions that granite is on its way out, designer Stephanie Theofanos said many of her clients still choose granite for their surfaces.“People are spending a little more on higher-end granite. I’m seeing that clients are more astute in their counter top selections,” she said. “Kitchens are a natural gathering place. And people are looking for materials that can handle red wine, children, crafts and high activity.”Personally, I decided to go for quartz counters because I fell in love with their clean, light look and how closely they resemble marble. The price point was on par with granite and Corian (which is what we had before), and I’ve been very pleased with the quartz tops so far. They’re scratch-resistant, incredibly durable and easy to clean. With quartz, though, you do have to be careful with heat. I keep a stack of trivets handy and use them whenever I place a hot pan on the counter or pull a baking sheet from the oven.


As Hillery noted, “the white kitchen is always a classic, especially here in Richmond.” She worked on the kitchen renovation at the Richmond Symphony Designer House in Ginter Park in 2016. She helped overhaul the 1980s kitchen – think black counters and knotty pine cabinets – and introduced white custom cabinets and state-of-the-art Dekton counters. “Grays and whites in the kitchen are here to stay,”  Hillery said. “Having a neutral palette allows you to put more color into your walls and your fabric choices. ”Theofanos noted that neutrals are “warming up” in color. “We’re seeing lots more warm grays and beige’s,” she said. I’m definitely on the white-and-gray bandwagon. Originally my kitchen had cream-colored cabinets, but my husband and I decided to go even brighter with new white, custom cabinets. We also kept the glass-front style of cabinets, which allows us to introduce color through our choice of china. I’m hoping the effect is bright, crisp and timeless.


It’s easy to overlook or undervalue kitchen lighting, but it’s very important, experts said. Big, bold fixtures are a big trend in kitchens, according to Abby Adams, a designer with Mosaic Tile Co. “People are taking the time and making their choice a prominent feature in their home. They’re not just getting something off the shelf” at a home improvement store, she said. Hillery said she has been using chandeliers and multiple pendants in groups of three to add visual interest to her kitchen renovations. I also wanted a lighting “statement” … but on a budget. I searched high and low for the right lighting and eventually found it: a mid century mobile from West Elm – for less than $200! – that’s very retro (with six spiky lights) and that creates a focal point.

Back splash

If counters and cabinets are trending more neutral, back splash is where people have more fun and take more chances. “I’m seeing a lot more investment in back splash. People are making individual statements with color or pattern,” Theofanos said. Hillery noted that graphic tiles behind the range can add beauty to the space. “They give you a pattern and create interest,” Hillery said. I went with Carrara marble for our back splash. It’s a light, blue-gray marble, but we decided to have the small tiles laid out in a diagonal herringbone pattern. And to my eye, while it seemed like counter top choices were of utmost importance when renovating the kitchen, I have to admit that visually, I notice the back splash more than the counters. I love how the back splash picks up on the blue-gray color palette while adding a graphic, dimensional interest with the pattern.


Think of kitchen hardware “as the jewelry of the kitchen,” as Hillery described it. Brass – yes, brass – is back in a big way. But it’s a brushed, warm brass, not the shiny stuff that screams 1980s.Satin gold and champagne gold also are trending, according to Adams of “Mosaic Tile”. Mixing metals is also popular these days. Brushed brass mixes with almost anything, including copper or oil-rubbed bronze. Adams noted that “brushed nickel never goes out of style, and it always matches with stainless steel.”  Indeed, we went the brushed nickel route in our kitchen. Because more than trends, I’m aiming for timeless. And while having a brand-spanking-new kitchen is nice, I hope I never again have to endure storm damage to get one!


Open shelving and other kitchen design trends that an organizer hates


Open shelving always looks inviting in magazines, but unless your daily dishes are nice enough to display, it’s not practical. (iStock) 

There are many recent design trends that have vastly improved the functionality and efficiency of the modern kitchen. But while some of the trends succeed aesthetically, they can create organizational challenges. Here are five examples.

Large, open-plan kitchens

Large kitchens with open floor plans have become popular in recent years, and for good reason. For a lot of people, it makes sense to have ample space in the kitchen — it’s the central gathering place and the spot where families spend a significant amount of time preparing, consuming and cleaning up after meals. But despite all the advantages, there are some disadvantages. An abundance of storage can hamper efficiency if it’s not well organized, making it difficult to find what you need quickly. Additionally, and this is not to be underestimated, a larger kitchen means there is more space to clean and keep tidy. If you like to cook and entertain and are able to keep the space neat, a large kitchen is wonderful. But if you’re not spending a lot of time in the kitchen and aren’t especially organized, don’t knock down those walls just yet. Keeping this central — and open — area orderly can be a struggle, and it’s not for everyone.

Replacing lower cabinets with drawers

Another trend is to have mostly deep drawers as storage on the bottom portion of the kitchen. In some ways, deep drawers are better than cabinets for storing kitchen items; things are contained, and it’s easy to see everything when you open the drawer. A lot of companies have also created inserts that can help with organizing. But some things just don’t fit well into wide, deep drawers. I’ve had clients try to store tall alcohol bottles lying down in drawers because they didn’t fit standing upright. Others have voiced their disappointment over how much space is wasted when you try to keep pans and plates in drawers. And heavy items, such as upright mixers, are difficult to store in them. When you’re deciding on a layout, take a complete inventory of your kitchen. A regular cabinet with shelves is sometimes just what you need.

Open shelving

Doesn’t open shelving always look so inviting in magazines and on cooking shows? How nice would it be to have all of your most frequently used dishes out in the open, where they’re easy to see and access?

The problem is, most of us don’t use display-worthy dishes every day. Often, the open shelving becomes a display space in an area that would have been the perfect place to store daily dishes. Before you add open shelving, consider how your pieces will look and whether you’re up to the task of keeping the shelves neatly arranged.

Movable pantry shelves

Built-in pantry cabinets with pullout shelves are also all the rage. They’re a major improvement over pantry closets or cabinets with fixed shelves that make it difficult to access items hidden in the back. However, the design of the movable shelves — wide and with a low frame — makes them difficult to manage and keep neat. Large boxes topple over when the shelves are moved, bags of snacks get piled on top of one another, and there’s often wasted vertical space between the shelves. Fortunately, there are several ways to make these drawers more organized and functional. Insert a vertical divider so that things can be neatly lined up and stored upright. Store foods such as noodles, cereal, rice and flour in stackable canisters that make better use of the vertical space than the products’ original packaging and won’t topple over every time the shelf is pulled out. And use clear, open bins to contain things such as snack bags and bars.

Ceiling-height cabinets

Cabinets that extend to the ceiling are now the norm in kitchen design. And it’s understandable — they make the ceiling appear higher, erase the problem of what to do with the ­awkward space between the cabinets and ceiling, and provide extra storage space. The problem, however, is that these out-of-reach cabinets give people an easy excuse to keep all kinds of things they don’t really want or need. And although it’s fine to keep some rarely used dishes or extra wine glasses in the uppermost cabinets, it is generally not a good idea to keep things or buy things just because you have the space to store them. If this applies only in your kitchen, you’re doing okay. Just don’t let this mind-set infiltrate other rooms.


Before and After: 6 Bathrooms That Said Goodbye to the Tub

Author Brenna Malmberg

Sleek showers replaced tub-shower combos in these bathroom remodels. Could this be an option for you?

Designing a New Kitchen? Find Your Dishwasher Sweet Spot

Anne Ellard March 5, 2017

Houzz Australia Contributor. Kitchen designer at Kitchens by Kathie in Brisbane, Australia. I strongly believe that above all else, the most important thing when designing a kitchen is creating something that the client loves!

Stash It All: Know the 3 Zones of Kitchen Storage

Here is an article from “HOUZZ” that I think anyone planning a new kitchen can benefit from.  Quite often people will consider the aesthetic properties of a new design and not forgo functionality until it is too late.  This article gives great pointers for how to calculate function to form.

Stash It All: Know the 3 Zones of Kitchen Storage

Organize the right amount of storage around the kitchen’s main activities for easier cooking and flow

Steven Randel April 14, 2016

Houzz Contributor. California licensed architect specializing in residential projects throughout the state, keynote speaker, and author of the upcoming book “The Realtors’ Guide to Home Styles: How to Understand What Clients Really Want & Match Them To Their Dream House”.

“How much space do I need?” This question leads to decisions on where you want to live, what type of home fits you and how you remodel. The trick is to assess what you own and decide how you will store it for convenient access. Carefully consider this challenge because poorly organized spaces often become daily irritations, impeding the pleasure of being at home. Kitchens top the list of rooms in which you need to get your storage right.

Huntington Beach

Michael Fullen Design Group

A contemporary high-end kitchen features open display storage.

The kitchen deserves special attention because it is home to a long list of items, some of which cycle in and out of the house. Requirements vary widely, so kitchen organization principles, combined with your household type, are the common threads.

Consider grouping your storage around three primary activity areas: the refrigerator, the sink and the range.

Blackburn Residence


    1. The Refrigerator Center  The refrigerator center serves as a receiving and initial food-preparation point in the kitchen layout. It is best positioned near the entrance from the direction of grocery arrival. Even if this arrangement is not the case in your kitchen, considering this function can help you determine how to begin organizing your space.A countertop next to or across from your refrigerator is the ideal spot for setting down grocery bags. This position allows immediate transfer of cold items to the fridge and freezer, and storage of staples, canned goods, condiments, cereal boxes and other dry food items in nearby cabinets or a nearby pantry.Easy access to your staples for initial food preparation helps make the job go faster and easier. Since your staples are placed here, plan to have this same area hold mixers and mixing bowls and their preparation utensils, such as measuring spoons and cups along with sifters, graters, salad molds, cake tins, pie plates and
      muffin tins.

Susan Brook Interiors

The refrigerator center is also the ideal spot for the can opener, food processor, coffee and bread makers, and other small appliances you use with dry goods.

Carriage House

Barbra Bright Design

Appliance garages such as this one help eliminate countertop clutter near the refrigerator station. Cookbooks can be anywhere in the kitchen, but the refrigerator center is a good location since cookbooks are used in initial food prep. Place a small bookshelf in a place where it will remain dry but be within reach, as shown here.

Consider placing brooms, dustpans and mops in a pantry or small closet near your refrigerator center.

Stash It All: How Much Kitchen Storage Do You Need?
By Houzz – See more Home Design Photos


This table offers a rough starting point for planning storage around the refrigerator. Mix and match ideas to adapt it to your lifestyle.

Pantry and dry food storage. Allow at least 16 cubic feet for storing dry groceries. Pantry pullout cabinets begin at about 24 cubic feet, while dedicated closet pantries begin at about 72 cubic feet (a space that’s 3 feet square by 8 feet tall).

Initial food prep equipment and tools. Start with wall and base cabinets of at least 24 inches in width. Bigger families and collectors need to begin with at least 42 inches in width.

Refrigeration. The smallest fridge starts at about 10 cubic feet of food storage space. Top-of-the-line units start at about 25 cubic feet of refrigerated food storage space.

Small appliances, occasional vases, bowls and trays. Minimalists begin with 12 inches in width of wall and base cabinets, while big families may want to start with 36 inches.

Universal Ease, Bemidji, MN

Sawhill Kitchens

    1. The Sink Center The sink center should be between the refrigerator and the range center, or cooking area, for maximum efficiency. Since sinks get the most use and traffic of any spot in the kitchen, centrally located sinks and dishwashers work best.Plan to have the most uncluttered countertop space in the sink center. The area in and around sinks is used for food-preparation tasks involving cleaning and cutting, as well as washing and cleaning up after meals. Place trash and recycling containers strategically so that tidy disposal happens effortlessly.Storage at sink centers includes places for everyday flatware, dishes and glassware, as well as activities involving waste management, dishtowel placement and storage, cleaning supplies, polishing and drying.
Cottage Kitchen - Personal Touches

Dura Supreme Cabinetry

Place cutting boards and knives at a midpoint between the sink and refrigerator so you can easily access items from the refrigerator, cut and chop as necessary, and dispose of the remnants to the sink center, which holds the refuse containers.

Sparkling Glass

Divine Design+Build

Most people store drinking glasses in wall cabinets near the sink and dishwasher, which works well, but drawers designed to hold glassware offer another solution and can make access more convenient. In any case, maintain a location convenient to the sink and dishwasher for your glassware and everyday dishes.

Berwick Kitchen

The Kitchen Design Centre

When organizing your kitchen, look for ways to store items related to each other, such as mugs near the coffee station, as shown here.

Stash It All: How Much Kitchen Storage Do You Need?
By Houzz – See more Home Design Photos

Sink, dishwasher and cleaning supplies. Minimalists can find sinks as small as 12 inches in width and dishwashers at 18 inches in width. Big families may require two 24-inch-wide dishwashers and a 36-inch sink.

Dishes, glasses and flatware. The smallest kitchen needs at least 18 inches in width of wall and base cabinets, while gourmet cooks and large families should begin with 42 inches in width of upper and lower cabinets.

Cutlery, cutting boards and small appliances. Minimalists begin with 12 inches in width of wall and base cabinets, while big families should begin with 42 inches.

Trash and recycling. Depending on how you recycle, compost and dispose, begin with 12 inches in width of base cabinets and go up to 36 inches in width for a big household.

Tanya Capaldo Designs

Tanya Capaldo Designs

    1. The Range Center Two configurations, a range or a cooktop with wall ovens, comprise the range center, where cooking food and preparation for serving takes place. Place these functions toward or near the dining room. Anything that involves the cooking process needs to be within the range center. Ovens with ample countertop space next to or closely across from them provide a spot to set down hot items quickly. In immediate and obvious proximity to the range center, put potholders and other items that aid in handling hot cookware. Also use this location to transfer cooked food to serving dishes. Plan to store platters, bowls and other equipment used to get food to the table around the range center.
Bamboo kitchen remodel.

Wende Woodworking LLC

Consider dedicating a cabinet for cookware frequently used on the stovetop, and another cabinet with cookware more commonly used in the oven. Place warming appliances in this area to allow convenient transfer of food to your serving dishes. Breadboards and bread bins work well in the range center. Small appliances that belong in the range zone include toasters, waffle irons, bread makers and portable grills.

Universal Ease, Bemidji, MN

Sawhill Kitchens

Spice storage, pots and pans, and cooking utensils placed immediately around cooking equipment ensure convenient and intuitive access to the tools and staples you need in meal preparation. Personal preference determines whether you want to place these items in upper shelves or cabinets, as in the previous photo, or in drawers and pullout cabinets that are below eye level, as shown here. Either can work, so decide what is best for you and conforms to your design aesthetic.

Stash It All: How Much Kitchen Storage Do You Need?
By Houzz – See more Home Design Photos

Cooking surfaces. While a New York City apartment dweller may be able to get by with a tiny 12-inch-wide two-burner cooktop, big families will need at least 36-inch-wide ranges or cooktops, and some may go as wide as 60 inches.

Microwaves. These ovens can be found in 24-inch widths for minimalists, while some units are built into double-oven arrangements that need 30 inches in width.

Cookware, bakeware and small appliances. Small abodes need at least 24 inches in width of wall and base cabinets, while big families begin with at least 60 inches in width.

Serving pieces, tableware and table linens. Minimalists need at least a 12-inch width in base cabinets, while a big household needs at least 36 inches in width.

San Diego Contemporary Kitchen

Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS

Consider the three-center concept flexible, and use it as a starting point to organize your kitchen depending on how you plan to use it. For example, you may want to have a spot in the kitchen for young children to safely contribute, or you may set up your space to suit multiple cooks. The key is to organize items so that they are placed in an obvious location and can be easily accessed for the coordinating activity.

Rockwood Colonial Larchmont

Studio Dearborn

An efficient transitional-style kitchen has closed storage lining every wall.

The number of people and cooks in your household will drive many of your kitchen storage choices. Consider four common scenarios:

• The Minimalist: Those with efficient and concise lifestyles, such as urban dwellers and singles
• The Starter Houzzer: Those just beginning homemaking and still adding to housewares
• The Empty Nester: Those who downsize but still have plenty of things they want to keep
• The Big Family: Those with a houseful of children of all ages, lots of stuff to stow or a resident gourmet cook

NYC Kitchen

Space Kit

The Minimalist Kitchen

From left to right, the refrigerator begins this one-wall kitchen, followed by a pantry cabinet. Next, a dishwasher and small sink provide an efficient cleanup space, with open shelving for everyday dinner and glassware artistically displayed. A small cooktop and wall oven frame the right-hand end of the scheme. High ceilings allow an extra bank of cabinets above average reach, which can be accessed when necessary with a stepladder.

Kensington 1 - Kitchen Renovation

Corey Klassen Interior Design

The Starter Kitchen

Efficient but thorough should be your thoughts when putting together a starter kitchen. This example has a simple 30-inch-wide range and a built-in microwave oven strategically placed next to the fridge. The U-shape provides an efficient work triangle but allows enough space for a couple of cooks to work together.

Rittenhouse Square Residence

Berzinsky Architects

The Empty-Nest Kitchen

In an urban neighborhood of Philadelphia, this kitchen provides plenty of glamour and upscale finishes for the empty nest of these owners. Spaces and features are generous but not oversized.

Island Cottage

Fiorentino Group Architects

The Big Family Kitchen

This kitchen begins with a large built-in refrigerator with an ice and water dispenser. A microwave and coffee maker come next before transitioning to the cooking center, which hosts a double oven and warming drawer, and a large professional-grade cooktop to the far right. The sink and dishwasher in the island complete the work triangle positioned comfortably between the cooking and refrigerator centers.

Hot Kitchen Designs Trends to Look for This Year

image-768x567September 28, 2016 by Guest Author

People spend a lot of time in the kitchen these days. Preparing meals, eating meals, and cleaning up the mess after meals is very time consuming. But more than this, the kitchen is, and always has been, a place of gathering. Family members tend to congregate in the heart of the home for more than just eating, so our kitchens should be both comfortable and beautiful to make our time spent here more enjoyable.

These popular trends for kitchen design in 2016 are popping up in kitchen remodels as well as in many new construction homes.

A Softer Color Palette

Kitchen colors are softening to a more muted palette. Grays, charcoals, pale blues, pale greens, and tinted whites are replacing the traditional white. When it comes to the wood of cabinets, 2016 is bringing lighter tones such as walnut, white oak, and whitewashed woods. Accent colors are also toned down with muted greens, blues, and pale yellows popping in for color.


Metal is edging its way into taking up more and more real estate in kitchens. Metal pendant lights, cabinet pulls, and faucets have been around for the past year or so and are still going strong. And metal is making even bigger statements in 2016 with many wooden hoods being replaced for metal hoods, giving kitchens a nice contrast.

Smart Features

Smart technology is a hot new home amenity this year and is making every aspect of our lives easier and more convenient. So why not bring that technology into the kitchen? Hidden charging stations for phones and tablets make accessing recipes much more convenient. State-of-the-art appliances with smart technology, like refrigerators with cameras or ovens you can control from your phone, are making their way into more and more kitchens.

Open Spaces

More and more homes are being designed with open floor plans that combine the kitchen and living area into one big space. Open spaces make the area seem larger, while allowing for an easy and smooth flow. This means that living spaces and kitchen decorations need to coordinate.

Contrasts Provided Through Texture

Texture-on-texture designs provide a beautiful contrast in a kitchen. The same texture is used more than once throughout the kitchen, but in a different pattern each time. This creates a rich and interesting look as different materials are repositioned in different ways throughout the kitchen.


Backsplashes are an easy way to update a kitchen, and the perfect place to add a pop of personality. Custom backsplashes in bold patterns and colors are very popular this year. Another popular trend this year is using the same texture material, but in different patterns for a customized look.

Cabinet Lighting

Set the mood to match your meal. In addition to recessed can lights, cabinet lighting adds a unique and elegant touch to a kitchen. Low-voltage light tape strips under cabinets, above cabinets, and within cabinets add a sophisticated accent. You can even use these lights under countertop overhangs.

Quartz Countertops

Quartz is the material of choice for countertops right now. Less expensive than granite, but often just as beautiful, quartz is making its way into more and more kitchens. Neutral colors are still king when it comes to countertops.

Mixing and Matching

More and more kitchens are combining different colors in their cabinetry for a unique look. Contrasting colors, like white cabinets above and gray/brown cabinets below create an interesting and customized look. Not only that, but the contrasting colors make some items appear like standalone custom furniture pieces.

Everything… PLUS the Kitchen Sink

We typically picture white or stainless steel when we think of sinks, but bright colors are beginning to replace the traditional kitchen sink. The convenient hands-free faucets are making their way into more and more kitchens as well.
While a large beautiful new kitchen is just one of the many things buyers look forward to most when building a new home, you can never overestimate the importance of having a great kitchen. New homes incorporate many important elements into their kitchen designs, giving new homeowners the chance to have the kitchen of their dreams.

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