Our designers and construction pros share what’s trending in the world of kitchen renovations, what you should splurge on, and what styles you should skip.
Renovating your kitchen can feel incredibly exciting—and rather daunting. Whether it’s a full-on kitchen facelift or some small touch ups, you have myriad options to consider, how long you’ll like them after the renovation is done, and if whoever owns your home next will like them. So, we asked the people who are spending the most time considering it all, Homepolish designers and contractors, what’s trending in the kitchen reno world, where to splurge, and where to save.
The first thing to consider: what you’ll spend. While all budgets differ, Tal Ben Zur of L.A. Remodeling Co. estimates that the average cost of a full remodel falls between $50,000 to $70,000. Keep in mind that down the line, that cost can be offset. Kitchen remodels can have a high an 80 percent return on investment at resell.
“The best areas of investment are cabinets and cabinet hardware, countertops, and good quality fixtures and appliances,” says Tal.
And while cabinets and countertops might be your smartest investments (and usually your most expensive too), that doesn’t mean you can only invest in the most basic options.
Designer:; Photo by: Samantha Goh
This year, renovators aren’t shy. Yes, the millennial all-white kitchen is on its way out.
“We have been implementing trends like big bold colors, mainly blues into our clients’ kitchens through accents such as an island, peninsula, or an entire wall of cabinetry,” says Alex Ushyarov, Director of Business Development at Gallery KBNY.
That’s right—bold is a relative term. For those who aren’t ready to commit to a completely colorful kitchen, selected accents add can be the way to go. Homepolish designer Kevin Clark likes to inject attitude by color blocking a selection of cabinetry.
“Sometimes it’s good to balance white with the color as an island or bar area, but sometimes it is also nice to be fully dramatic and go for all color,” Kevin explains. “On almost all of the kitchens I work on with clients, we try to add personality, whether it’s going black or pigeon gray or even bold blue. I have been dying to do a mauve kitchen or a hunter green.”
While Kevin is mad for mauve, even muted shades, pastels, and stronger wood tones count as a departure from the all-white look of late.
“I love me some moody and colored cabinetry,” designer Chloe Poturalski says. “Recently I have been noticing a lot of light, ashy wood tones for cabinetry, either a white-washed oak or even a ashy mocha. Both match so nicely with polished or matte marble countertops and add so much warmth to the space. I also love colored cabinets with a matte finish in either mossy green tones or like a muted pastel blue.”
If you’re wondering what “style” to choose, you don’t have to choose at all.
“In most cases, styles are being merged and we are collaging elements together to create a unique space true to what clients love,” explains Kevin. “The ‘transitional’ title is thrown around a lot but it is essentially marrying a few styles.”
Blending contemporary and traditional means you’re more likely to yield a space that feels current. Cabinet fronts are just one way kitchens are breaking the mold of the classic descriptors, with people opting for contemporary fronts that blend well and variations on the tried-and-true options.
“I think we will continue to see a lot of contemporary flat panel cabinetry, and more updated variations of the classic shaker cabinet (such as thinner styles),” adds Alex of Gallery KBNY.
Typically found in Mid-century-style homes, these styles add a sleek touch to a new home and can modernize an older kitchen. It’s worth nothing that when it comes to resale, cabinets are one of your best investments—according to Houzz’s Kitchen Trends study, countertops, appliances, and cabinets are the best places to splurge during a kitchen reno, particularly since storage space is among the chief concerns of home buyers.
Designer:; Photo by: Madeline Tolle
NOT SO SMART
Thanks to Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, smart objects and savvy tech tools have saturated the market. But homeowners aren’t necessarily ready to implement these into their kitchens.
“We look at many smart appliance items as more gimmicky,” explains Alex. “We suggest clients purchase smart items that will be functional for their lifestyle, for some folks a smart coffee maker is great, for others the idea of a smart fridge is awesome. Truth be told, traditional appliances still reign supreme.”
Greg Dyer, founder of Element Design Group, agrees: “We’ve been keeping an eye on smart refrigerators—ones that can track your food inventory and provide recipe help. While these seem to be a new trend, we haven’t seen much demand for them yet. Our clients tend to prefer the classic, professional style appliances.”
L.A. Remodeling Co.’s Tal advises his clients to choose items that will work for the long run.
“Technology is great, but it needs to be practical,” Tal explains. “It’s nice to have a sound system built-in the kitchen (walls/ceiling), a built-in USB port for your phone is also popular, or it’s also nice to integrate LED lighting under cabinets, open shelving and even countertops.”
CLEAR THE CLUTTER
While people may not be ready to smartify their entire kitchens, there are some areas that could be designed more “smartly.”
“We have been implementing concealed storage more and more often,” shares Greg from Element. “We love utilizing an appliance garage to maintain clutter-free counters. These cabinets keep all the messy things with cords and attachments (think blenders, coffee grinders, and mixers) hidden. What’s the point of having beautiful countertops if they are always full of stuff?”
Greg also loves swapping standard “cabinet” items for more clever functionality.
“We love drawer refrigerators for an island where you’re likely to serve guests. It’s great when you can just reach into a drawer to get what you need instead of turning around to open a big refrigerator door. Also, drawer microwaves have opened up design possibilities.”
While drawers and cabinets can often feel like a big commitment if you decide to swap the appliance down the line, standard sizes means you’ll likely be able to make the swap. Just be sure to verify that you’re not creating a hyper-custom solution when selecting your options. Even if you aren’t designing cabinetry around your appliances, the old-standbys are falling out of fashion.
“Stainless is definitely on its way out,” says Poturalski. “When it comes to appliances lately, there are two things I am loving: one option is doing cover panels for appliances, which allows them to blend in with cabinetry for a more seamless look. Option two is choosing a really bold and unique appliance brand, like Cafe Appliances. Their line of products is fab.”
If you opt for store-bought appliances, according to HomeAdvisor, you can expect to spend up to $5,000, while custom-made, bespoke options average out at about $10,000. Keep in mind that your choices are especially important if you plan to resell within the next five years.
Designer: Cindy DeLuzuriaga; Photo by: Sean Litchfield
ADD IN A SURPRISE OR TWO
The kitchen is considered the conversational hub of the home, so our designers recommend integrating a few conversation pieces.
“Making a bold statement, even just one, is enough to define your home,” shares Homepolish designer Cindy De Luzuriaga.
One of Cindy’s favorite ways to make a statement is low stress, but high impact.
“I love vintage, unique barstools,” Cindy advises. “They are an easy noncommittal way to make a statement. I always use barstools as an opportunity to add a bit of personality, whether it’s the style, the upholstery, or a vintage wood. I think it’s a great play.”
Another option: Look up. Cindy suggests experimenting with lighting. One suggest incorporating a surprising material.
“Ceramic is a material very common in the kitchen but new to light fixtures,” she mentions. “I am using ceramic spotlights in two projects that both go in different stylistic directions but work equally well.”
SUB SUBWAY TILE FOR CONCRETE
When it comes to subway tiles…the train has departed.
“Ditch the classic white subway tile look,” says Chloe. “I personally talk all of my clients out of the subway tile backsplash and white shaker style cabinetry because it’s become boring and over done.”
Tal from L.A. Remodeling Co is instead recommends a few equally classic options.
“While white subway tile is timeless and beautiful in every kitchen, I’d love to see different, more interesting and less boring choices,” Tal says. “Cement tiles are trendy and timeless. Large, natural looking porcelain square tiles are also nice.”
Cement is also mixing it up in other applications.
“Concrete and terrazzo counters are now available in slabs so they are easier to work with,” Dyer explains. “Concrete floors are better looking than tile and without all the grout joints!”
When we said goodbye to granite years ago, marble reigned supreme. Now the most popular (and cost-effective) countertop material is quartz.
“There are so many variations,” Alex explains. “they can mimic natural stones, they’re so durable, it’s really a fantastic surface for kitchens.”
Kevin also praises the material’s many options.
“There is a great variety of veining, consistent color, easy to match veins for patterns, and easy to match slabs,” Kevin opines. “It is also the most durable in terms of surfaces.”
That durability is just as important as its ability to mimic the ever-popular marble. Quartz require less maintenance and are more cost-effective. Longevity is important—countertops remain a huge driver for resale.
While statement backsplashes may be a relic of the past, that doesn’t mean it’s time to say goodbye to tiled backsplashes altogether. Instead, designers are simply taking a different approach.
“I am noticing a trend towards running the countertop material up as the backsplash,” says Chloe. “It’s definitely the more modern approach to a backsplash, and it’s what everyone will soon want. I personally thinks it looks so clean and seamless and modern. Also from a cleaning and practicality standpoint, it’s so much easier to maintain.”
It’s not a question of silver or gold (or rose gold!) anymore. According to Kevin, 2019 is about the blend.
“I know that so many clients have been more open to brass in the kitchen for pendants, lighting and hardware, and not worrying that they have stainless fixtures,” Kevin explains. “Mixing metals is fully OK. Brass adds a lot of warmth to a space, and a lot of great personality. Copper can be a fun addition as well.”
Clark isn’t the only one who’s leaning towards brass and coppers in the kitchen.
“Obviously gold finishes for hardware, cabinetry pulls and plumbing fixtures has been huge for the last few years, [but] recently I’ve been noticing a lot more rose gold and copper finishes, which I love. I think it’s flashy and bold and different,” says Chloe.
Hardware is always a great, non-committal option for updating your space. Unlike countertops or flooring, you can always switch out and test different hardwares until you find what works best in your space.
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