Another of our series of Blogs called “Ask the Experts” and this one is by Gwendolyn Purdom a Houzz contributor.

Whether it’s a splash of colour in the cabinets, a champagne-brass drawer pull or a wall of open shelving, the kitchen ideas homeowners and designers are loving now can elevate everybody’s favourite7 gathering space to home showpiece status.

Kitchens remain the most popular room for homeowners to renovate, and it’s no wonder why — thanks to the array of popular and practical countertop, cabinet and lighting styles out there, an updated kitchen can make a house feel fresh again in a way other rooms can’t. Here are the kitchen design ideas that pros, homeowners and Houzz photos say are taking off or still going strong.

We break down 9 kitchen design ideas that are making people happy — and show how to make them work for you

Colourful Cabinets

What the PROS say

“Painted cabinets are having a bit of a moment,” says designer and decorator Nancy Harper and other pros agreed that blues and greens are the go-to non-neutral colours of choice now, but Harper says she could see other bold colours also take hold soon such as emeralds, & darker shades.

What popular Houzz photos say is that 7 of the 10 most-saved kitchen photos uploaded in the last three months feature cabinets with some colour, including four examples of blue cabinets, one example of green and two black. Even if grey and white are still more common in most remodels, many Houzz users are drawn to brighter pops of personality.

Creating the effect on a low budget

Paul McAlary a kitchen and cabinet designer says more colourful cabinets, particularly bolder shades like navy blue, can cost more. He doesn’t recommend painting them yourself as it can damage the quality of the cabinets. Instead, he suggests homeowners get their colour fix through the easier-to-update walls or backsplash.


Creating the WOW effect

With an incorporate vibrant cabinetry in just the island or base cabinets, or create dimension and visual interest by pairing all-around colourful cabinets with contrasting countertops and on-trend brass or gold hardware.

Marbled Quartz

What the PROS say

Homeowners looking to make a more dramatic, organic statement with their kitchen countertops used to gravitate toward natural stones such as granite for the unique speckling and veins. But pros say more natural-looking quartz — an engineered product that contains mostly quartz mineral, as well as resins, pigments and polymers — is showing up in more kitchens.

Designers are seeing more and more higher-end remodels opting for quartz countertops that are designed to look like marble. Slabs of these types of quartz, such as the popular Aurea Stone shown here, make it easier to create seamless countertops.

Granite is still pricey but available in more affordable varieties than quartz, still reigns in some areas.

What homeowners say

Quartz’s expanding pattern palette may be contributing to its growing popularity, along with other pluses like its stain resistance and durability. Homeowner Jennifer Dabbs, who worked with a Kitchen Studio to renovate her 1894 kitchen area said that quartz’s reputation for being a more contemporary style initially gave her pause. “I was afraid it would look too modern in our home,” Dabbs says. “However, we chose a stone that replicates a marble and turns out to be exactly what we wanted in terms of functionality — low maintenance — and look.”

 

Open Shelving

What the PROS say

Open shelving can make a kitchen look taller and airier. As this look gets more popular it has been noticed that there is a corresponding spike in requests for hideaway places for smaller appliances, outlets and other clutter.

Dishes, plants and knickknacks displayed on open shelves need thoughtful planning to avoid a cluttered look, so having spaces to tuck away less-attractive items can keep things balanced and tidy. Having fewer pieces on the shelves can also minimizes the risk of them crashing down as open shelves typically aren’t made to withstand the weight that cabinets do.

What homeowners say

Though it can work with a number of styles, the sometimes minimalist, sometimes rustic vibe of wood and metal open shelving fits right in with transitional, contemporary and farmhouse kitchen styles — the first, second and third most-popular new kitchen styles that renovating homeowners chose when updating their kitchens, according to the Houzz 2018 Kitchen Trends Study.

What saved Houzz photos say

Natural wood open shelving seems to come up the most in recent popular photos, though white and black examples also appear.

Getting the low-key look

Even just a few shelves can draw the eye up and make a small space look bigger.

Getting the full-out look

More shelves mean more styling and maintenance to keep your kitchen from looking too busy. To create that sleek, intentional feeling with more shelves, group items by colour, leave some shelf space open and carve out plenty of sturdier, hidden space for bulky appliances and mismatched dishware.

 

Still Shaker

What the PROS say

The versatility of basic Shaker cabinets is defined by their flat centre door panels and a generally clean raised-square frame and it continues to make them a popular pick for kitchens. Shaker-style cabinets are very popular because they can look a little bit traditional and they can look a little bit modern. They have clean lines, so depending on the hardware that you choose and other elements in the kitchen, it can go either way

What homeowners say

By choosing Shaker style for her cabinet redo, Jennifer Dabbs who was renovating her 1894 kitchen area said she was able to give a nod to her traditional house’s history while giving the space a fresh update. It also saved her a significant amount of money.
Shaker cabinets remain the most popular among all segments of homeowners, according to Houzz research.

What saved Houzz photos say

More than half of the 20 most popular recent kitchen photos featured Shaker-style cabinets plus Shaker cabinets remain the most popular among all segments of homeowners, according to Houzz research.

 

Staying Connected

What the pros say

High-tech touch-screen refrigerators and ovens have yet to really catch on with the typical homeowner, pros say, but smart electronics are appearing in the kitchen in other ways.

When working with appliances which have a too many bells and whistles some customers are a little afraid of the technology, and questions are raised such as, “Is it going to break? How much will it cost to fix it? How long will it take to fix it? Is it going to be too difficult for me to actually cook even though the whole premise is to enable the whole cooking experience?

Where technology is cropping up more in the kitchen is through wireless speakers, smart lighting and voice-controlled TVs and assistants. Clients are always looking for more outlets and often a separate charging station in the kitchen for powering their devices can be an option.

What homeowners say

Touchscreen controls or built-in speakers appear in 1 in 4 new appliances that homeowners are choosing as replacements for their old gadgets, the kitchen study found. Wireless and voice-controlled appliances appear in 11 percent of upgraded appliances.

Getting the low-key effect. A voice-controlled or wireless speaker or digital assistant comes in handy in the kitchen when you need a measurement converted or background dinner-making music.

Getting the full-out effect

Homeowners reported their refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves and range hoods were their top updated appliances, so tricking out those major players with touchscreens and smart controls may be the way to go if you’re tech-happy (and have the budget for it).

Going Grey

What the pros say

There’s nothing drab about grey these days, and there hasn’t been for quite a while. In fact, a lot of pros consider it the newish neutral.

What homeowners say

While white still holds the lead for most popular cabinet colour among homeowners, grey wins for go-to wall colour.

Getting the low-key look

A grey island, accent wall or tile can add an element of calm sophistication to a kitchen.

Getting the full-out look

Because grey is a mellow colour your kitchen may be able to handle grey cabinets, shelving and backsplash, like the kitchen shown here, without feeling overpowering.

Let There Be Light

What the pros say

It has been said that good lighting is the second-biggest kitchen priority behind opening up a kitchen space into a living area. To get it perhaps add a picture window above a sink, or score more natural light by knocking down a dividing wall. Statement pendants, like the ones shown here, are also popular, as are sconces, which can come in handy in illuminating an open shelf.

What saved Houzz photos say

Dramatic pendant lights and chandeliers, many with gold details, are a repeat sight in the recent most-saved kitchen photos.

Getting the low-key look

Light fixtures can be a great place to test out a trend, as they’re typically easy to replace or upgrade, Harper says.

Getting the full-out look

Statement lights you can control with your voice or a smartphone are all the rage.

 

White Everything

What the pros say

The all-white trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, to some pros’ dismay. You spend all this money for cabinets, countertops and everything else, and when everything is white nothing stands out. If clients are leaning toward a white-on-white look it is worth suggesting adding tiles or backsplashes that make the space a little more dynamic and unique -an approach expected to see more of going forward.

What homeowners say

White still tops remodelling homeowners’ favourites list when it comes to cabinets and backsplashes, and it narrowly trails grey in wall colour preference, according to the Kitchen Trends Study.

What saved Houzz photos say

Survey-taking homeowners and pros say all-white everything is still the most common choice in practice, but when Houzz users are planning or daydreaming about their next projects as they’re scrolling through photos on the site, it’s mostly shades of blue and grey they covet. Could that mean white kitchens might get knocked from their popularity throne in the next few years?

Getting the low-key look. White is classic and crisp, and it works with all kinds of kitchen styles. White countertops paired with either white upper or lower cabinets or a white backsplash leave room to break things up with a grey island, black countertops or another colourful accent.

Getting the full-out look

White cabinets, countertops, backsplash, appliances — go to town!

 

Mixing Metals

What the pros say

As cabinet pulls, light fixtures, faucets and other hardware are one of the easiest parts of a kitchen to swap out, they’re a logical place to try something new. And pros say that while oil-rubbed bronze and brass were must-haves recently, people are experimenting with a variety of metal finishes, including champagne brass and charcoal stainless.

Designer and decorator Nancy Harper says “It’s not just about brass anymore. I feel like for a while everybody wanted brass, but there are so many beautiful options out there. I also think people are a little bit more comfortable mixing metals too. A client might opt for brass hardware and a different metallic colour in lighting” she says.

What saved Houzz photos say

Saved kitchen photos from the past three months feature a mix of more golden brass hardware and darker bronzes, often set against the glint of stainless steel appliances.

Getting the low-key look

Just one element — a pendant light, stool legs, a faucet — with a different finish can help you avoid any matching monotony and give your kitchen a bolder, lived-in edge.

Getting the full-out look

Incorporating too many different finishes in one space can feel busy, but two or three can make things interesting and sophisticated.

 

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