6 Kitchen Cabinet Trends to Avoid at All Costs (and What to Do Instead)

published Jun 2, 2024
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CHICAGO, IL, USA - AUGUST 17, 2019: A luxurious modern kitchen with stainless steel Wolf appliances surrounded by white cabinets, beautiful granite, and hardwood floors.
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It’s amazing what small, minute details you find out you care about when you remodel a kitchen — and how many options exist when it comes to something as simple as kitchen cabinets. And with so many options and design trends out there, it’s hard to decide which direction to go in, and what’s best for your personal style. Timeless and classic, or eclectic and trendy? 

If you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars on new kitchen cabinets — often the biggest expenditure of an update to what’s usually the most expensive room in the house — it’s good to have a finger on the pulse of what trends are worth jumping on, which splurges are worth the money, and alternatively, which may hurt your home’s value down the road. I asked award-winning Coldwell Banker Realtor Ariel Baverman and her frequent staging partner, Stephanie Jacobs of SBS Designs Atlanta, which cabinet trends are on their way out for 2024, and you’ll be surprised by what the pair had to say.

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1. Open Shelving

“I never liked the open shelves trend in a kitchen,” Baverman admits. Jacobs agrees, noting they’re overused “and it means making sure everything is always in its place and on display.” This adds pressure for tidiness and makes the kitchen less homey, despite the fact that it’s an homage to farmhouse style. “While it works in a commercial kitchen because it makes constantly used items accessible, a commercial kitchen isn’t the heart of a home or where you’re entertaining,” Baverman says. 

Plus, without cabinet doors, open shelves take away your ability to hide unruly stacks or odd shapes. No matter how nice your dinnerware is, “You have less storage!” Baverman says, making them a bit self-defeating, especially in smaller spaces.

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2. Cold Colors

For years now, the “new neutral” has been what designers have dubbed “millennial gray,” from floors to walls to countertops and — you guessed it! — cabinets. However, “sterile, white kitchens and cold gray colors are falling out of fashion,” Jacobs says. And it’s been in decline for some time, as interior designer TK Wismer listed white cabinets as one of the six fading cabinet trends of 2023 just a few months back. 

But it’s not all whites that are being ousted. According to Jacobs, warm whites are still a smart option that will age well, as opposed to cooler tones, as “people are now leaning toward warm, rich wood tones and moody greens.” Baverman adds that it really just comes down to growing desire for more natural colors and materials, as the monochromatic palette nears the end of its course.

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3. Basic Handles

Matchy-matchy, bulk-purchased cabinet pulls and handles may be easy, but that’s part of what makes them less desirable as people have become bored of seeing the same builder-grade ones appear again and again. Specifically, “those basic, round nickel knobs on cabinet doors” are easily recognizable as low-effort, Baverman says. 

“Having one color of the same size, same type of hardware on all the cabinets” is something Jacobs says to avoid. Instead, she tells us, homebuyers are finding mixed metals, long sleek handles, and “any hardware that is different, such as having texture, latches, or angles” more widely appealing. But, Baverman reminds, you have to put utility and comfort first. Textures and shapes that feel good in your hands are the ones that will age best.

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4. Simple Shakers

Simple, basic shaker cabinets are over, Jacobs asserts. Instead, she says, shaker cabinets with more details, like raised panels and slimmer styles, are pushing the plainer version out of the way.

But Baverman cautions not to go too far in the other direction — heavy, elaborate, and overly detailed styles are at odds with the neutral, natural, and welcoming tone today’s buyers look for in a kitchen. Plus, fussy cabinet faces can gather dust, dirt, and grease, creating nooks that are hard to clean.

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5. Disproportionate Cabinets

When it comes to cabinets, there is no one-size-fits-all, and bigger isn’t always better. Instead, homeowners should use their ceiling heights to determine the right height for their cabinets, as improperly sized cabinets are definitely out for 2024.

“You want 42-inch cabinets for 8-foot ceilings or 39-inch cabinets if you opt for crown molding,” Baverman says. “For 9-foot ceilings, you want 42-inch cabinets with crown molding,” she suggests. (Here’s your reminder to bookmark this page before your next remodel.)

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6. Hard-Close Hinges

“Soft-close doors and drawers are a great investment if you’re buying a new set of cabinets,” Baverman says, and are a simple DIY upgrade to existing cabinets. This practical feature has become more common, even for developer-built new constructions, which conditions buyers to expect the feature. 

They can help keep your drawer items and organizers from sliding around from hard impact as well as protect the life of your cabinets by putting less wear and tear on them, potentially saving you money over time. Of course, they also prevent household annoyance — after all, who wants to be jolted by the sound of slamming from any room?

How to Choose What Trends to Follow

A sure sign of a trend to be wary of is one that isn’t as practical as it may be beautiful, Baverman advises. “Sometimes, there’s a new idea that falls into fashion, but then we realize it isn’t as functional as another option, which makes it only a matter of time before it’ll fall out of style.” 

But, “as with any trend, you should choose what you like and what makes sense for you,” she says. After all, regardless of what the next buyer may like, you still need to live with it until then. “Think about how you will use the space, what colors you like, how much storage you need, what you need to fit, etc.” These are the keys to making cabinet — and kitchen design! — choices that will be timeless for you