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21 Kitchen Design Trends We Predict Will Be Huge for 2021

published Jan 2, 2021
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If we were giving out an Unsung Hero award for 2020, it’d go to the home kitchen. Every single home kitchen in America, actually. With staying in being the new going out, we’ve all logged way more time than usual in our home kitchens. While many of us are struggling with meal planning and cooking fatigue, we know our kitchens pretty darn well at this point. We know what works and what doesn’t, what we’re tired of looking at, and what we’d love to change.

So, it’s no surprise that there’s been a boom in renovations of all sizes and DIY kitchen makeovers. (For reference, Houzz reported a 58 percent annual increase in project leads for home professionals in June. And Lowe’s and Home Depot are seeing a massive boost in sales.) Of course, with all these new kitchen projects and the “new normal” way of life, comes new trends. If you’ve decided to invest in a minor or major kitchen reno, keep these fresh ideas in mind as we kick off the new year.

These are the 21 trends that are bound to be huge in 2021. (And these are the trends that are on their way out.)

1. L-Shaped Kitchens

According to a report by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the most popular kitchen shape for the new year is an L-shaped kitchen and we agree. Designed to be efficient and to flow seamlessly into the next room, an L-shaped kitchen is a classic that makes it easy to get everything you need in a small area. It’s great for homes that lack square footage.

2. Open Concept

Remember last year when we talked about how people wanted more division between the kitchen and the other rooms in their house? Scratch that. Because we’re spending more time at home, the walls are coming back down and the line between the kitchen and living room is getting blurred. Even though we’re not entertaining, an open-concept kitchen helps to include the family chef in what’s going on in the living room and makes it easier for parents to supervise kids and make dinner. 

3. Cabinets Without Hardware

Forget minimal hardware: People are ditching the pulls and knobs all together. Simple cabinetry with grab-able notches or holes streamlines the feel of any kitchen.

Credit: Lana Kenney

4. Larger Kitchen Islands

The footprint of the kitchen island isn’t shrinking anytime soon. In fact, it’s actually growing. It means more prep space, yes, but it’s also more space for at-home learning and spreading out during Zoom meetings. Plus, the cabinetry at the bottom offers more storage opportunities, for all the new tools and gadgets we ordered this year.

Credit: Viv Yapp

5. Dark Kitchen Countertops

A real change-up from the white stone countertops we’ve been seeing for what feels like forever. Maybe it’s the forgiving nature of a darker countertop color, but you’re going to be seeing a lot more dark stone options that offer a beautiful contrast to lighter, brighter colored cabinets. Look out for darker wood options, too, instead of super-pale butcher block.  

6. Upper Cabinets

This is a big gamble, but after a year of really having to focus on cooking at home, open shelving just isn’t working for the average homeowner. Not only does it allow dust to collect on dishes (even frequently used ones!), but it also sacrifices storage space in favor of a pretty design element. And so, upper cabinets are coming back! That’s not to say that decorative shelves will be completely gone — you just you might see a display ledge instead.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

7. Glass Doors

Glass or fluted or dimpled glass fronts are also making a comeback, protecting items from dust and grime but still allowing you to see inside. They’re being used on a few upper cabinets here and there — just not on all of them.

8. Woven Light Fixtures

Say goodbye to bulkier industrial-style pendant lights in favor of woven shades or more minimal metal designs. They open up the top half of the kitchen, which balances the look of upper cabinets nicely, and feel airy compared to their predecessors. 

9. Added Artwork

Typically, kitchens and bathroom aren’t the first places you think of to display artwork, but placing vintage prints and paintings in a kitchen is something we’ve seen increasing in popularity over the last several years. If you want to try this trend, place these pieces away from the stove or places prone to spills and splatters. 

10. Matte and Brushed Finishes

Shiny metals are definitely out — they pull too much attention away from the cabinetry. Matte and brushed finishes have been in for many years at this point, but now they’re really catching on and, in some cases, mingling with each other. Bonus: These finishes are easier to keep clean and show fewer smudges and fingerprints than their shiny counterparts. If there’s one recurring theme for kitchen design moving forward, it’s embracing practicality.

Credit: Lauren Volo

11. Induction Cooktops

Keep your eyes peeled, as you’re about to start seeing an increase in induction-style ranges instead of gas or electric. Not only are the stovetops easier to clean and maintain, but induction cooking is also more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly than gas. 

12. Wood Cabinetry

You’ll be seeing more natural wood tones for cabinets in both light and dark finishes. (Just not the deep cherry color of the ’90s!) Wood feels organic and durable and pairs beautifully with both white and darker paint colors. Walnut cabinets lend a warmth to the whole room and look especially beautiful paired with stone countertops, while ash offers a paler, more muted look that pairs nicely with darker paint colors. We’re even seeing unfinished wood star nicely.

Credit: Minette Hand

13. More Natural Light

The more sunlight you can get into your kitchen, the better. Homeowners are adding more (or bigger) windows to their kitchens in efforts to bring the outdoors inside — helping a kitchen to feel more upbeat and open. Fact: Sunshine makes any room more inviting and natural elements are instant mood boosters, making any time spent in the kitchen feel more positive overall.

14. Smarter Appliance Storage

Keeping countertops clear and clean seems to be another major priority for 2021. It makes sense — clutter feels stressful. We’re seeing people add appliance garages or make special room for non-essential appliances in the pantry.

15. More Durable Surfaces

Tougher, engineered stone surfaces — like quartz — are in. With the same look and feel as marble, quartz isn’t porous, so it holds up better against spills and splatters. (Plus, non-porous surfaces are easier to clean when it comes to bacteria or viruses.) In the past, there might have been more of an importance placed on trends and aesthetics, but now, solid, quality wood cabinetry is also more of a priority because it’s built to last and withstand more traffic and use. 

Credit: Viv Yapp

16. Green

Green … as in the color. Taking a cue from mother nature, like a lot of the other trends on this list, all different shades of green are going to be in demand moving forward. While some people will opt for a more muted sage color, deep emerald and hunter greens will also make an appearance. Green can be dramatic and bold or even function almost as a neutral. Plus, it pairs beautifully with many other colors and materials. Look for it in cabinetry and tiles.

17. Smaller in-Kitchen Pantries

Pulling from our pantries and cooking with what we have was a major kitchen trend in 2020. For most people, that meant really taking stock of the pantry area and, in an interesting twist, we’ve realized that more isn’t always more. So, don’t feel bad if you don’t have space for a perfect stand-alone pantry. In most cases you don’t need it and it only encourages food hoarding and waste. Keeping a medium-sized, in-kitchen pantry cabinet makes it easier to see what you have and puts all your supplies within arm’s reach while you’re cooking. 

18. Dine-in Kitchens

When you’re eating three meals a day at home it helps to shake up where you’re dining. A spot to eat in the kitchen makes breakfast and lunch feel different than dinner. Adding in a small banquette area if you have the space, or even outfitting your larger kitchen island with some stools, turns your kitchen into an area your family wants to spend time in. 

19. Different Tile Shapes

Think outside the standard rectangular subway tile. Squares, diamonds, hexagons, and all sorts of other shapes are taking over. Done in a larger size in a more neutral color makes them both interesting and versatile. Instead of a shiny finish, matte is in too. If you are going to use a subway tile, consider installing it vertically instead of horizontally. 

Credit: Sylvie Li

20. Statement Sinks

Instead of blending in to the design, you’ll see darker finishes and different materials take centerstage but in traditional silhouettes. Think: a farmhouse-style sink in a matte bronze finish or an under-mount sink in dark black. The benefit of skipping white? It’s easier to keep clean and won’t show dirt and dings as easily. 

21. Statement Ventilation Hoods

A beautiful vent hood turns a stove into a statement. Instead of basic hoods (or microwaves!), we’re going to see gorgeous ones that really are works of art.

Which of these trends are you most excited to see?