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We’re back in the kitchen where new fashions, conveniences, and materials enter the market at a staggering rate. The good news is that, because kitchens are one of the most expensive rooms to make over, their design is often less about trend than evolution. But if you’re looking to redo—a little or a lot—here’s some of the more recent innovations and designs.


Banquette seating

You go to restaurants and request a booth, but then, at home, stick to the table-and-chair model. You don’t have to. Bench/booth seating is finding its way back into the kitchen in styles not seen since the eighties. A particularly popular option is having a comfy bench on one side and chairs on the other, so everybody’s happy and you still make good use of space. Pillows make a nice addition to the bench, particularly if it rounds a corner.



Eat-in kitchens

We’ve finally admitted that we don’t use the formal dining rooms and instead find ourselves crowded around even the smallest kitchen table. New designs are embracing that and making room for even larger tables in the kitchen. Of course, the aforementioned banquette seating makes it easier to work with smaller spaces, as well.



You’ve seen them sneak into the bathroom, but now, in streamlined and simple kitchens, black faucets and lighting fixtures are adding to the aesthetic. Black doesn’t show dirt—a bonus in the kitchen—but be sure to throw in other black accents to prevent a single one from being jarring.  Matte black stainless appliances are on the rise and complement this design choice. Of course, all that black means pops of color create sharper lines and contrasts.



Dark colors

For those who want a little less severity, darker hues are a stylish substitute for black. Yep—we’re back to navy and hunter green.


Flat front cabinetry

Adorning cabinet fronts with hardware, curlicues, molding, and add-ons seems as if it’s always been the trend, but the move toward clean looks has given way to flat cabinet doors that show off nothing but the materials or a color. Cabinets become a backdrop rather than the focus.



No upper cabinets

We’re such slaves to storage that it’s logical that this idea hasn’t really presented before now. But with larger, eat-in kitchens and a slimming down of stuff, it’s here. Kitchens without upper cabinets feel big, open, airy, and—because we’re not used to the look—bare. But consider that none of your other rooms have walls cluttered with storage; it makes sense. Also consider what you can use those walls for instead, like vaulted ceilings, windows, and art.



Built-in sinks

One of the most practical innovations to come along in a while, the built-in sink could be an expensive proposition, but there’s nothing not to love about it. An upgrade from the undermount—which alone is far superior to the overmount that allowed dirt to crust under the lip of the sink—this built-in takes it to the next level by making sink and counter seamless, elegant, and easy to clean.



Everywhere you can afford it, basically. But consult a designer before investing; marble can look messy if it’s not done right.



Not just for countertops, but walls and islands as well. Be careful not to go too light in color, or you might get a prison effect. Fortunately, concrete is a versatile material that can be customized with texture and color that best suit your taste.


Square tiles

Square was never really out, but now it’s really in. If you haven’t updated your kitchen since the eighties, you’re in luck! To be uber trendy, go with square Spanish tiles. You can even use them on the floor, where ceramic flooring is taking over.


Hidden range hoods

Because who ever thought those metal monstrosities above the island were attractive?! Now they’re tastefully camouflaged by cabinetry, marble, and plaster.


Hidden lighting

Statement light fixtures aren’t going anywhere, but under cabinet lighting adds layers that allow optimal lighting for both cooking tasks and atmosphere.



Integrated appliances

A cousin to hidden range hoods, integration puts all the appliances in the closet, so to speak. The result is a kitchen that doesn’t look like a kitchen. Instead, it’s a relaxing room that’s just as aesthetically pleasing as the rest of the home when you need it to be, but a fully functioning food prep and cook place as well.


Smart kitchens

Everything from motion sensors on your faucets—so you can wave your hands under them just like you do in public restrooms—to refrigerators that tell you when you’ve run out of milk are making high-tech kitchens straight out of The Jetsons. See Tech House on page 92 for the latest kitchen smart sense.


Pet-friendly kitchens

We’ve long childproofed homes, but pet-centric homeowners are now seeking kitchens with feeding stations, built-in sleeping areas under the islands, or toys in corners.   


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