In over 15 years as a luxury residential interior designer, I have never seen such an intense desire for personalized kitchens. These may be the most expensive rooms in the house, but the pandemic has encouraged people to fully enjoy these heavily used spaces, while the rising cost of real estate has encouraged some not to find new homes but to make their current homes, including their kitchens, reflect their style.
Dramatic natural stone is surging in popularity. People particularly appreciate gorgeous veining, or unique pieces of marble and quartzite. They also are seeking out manmade stones, such as quartz and porcelain, which offer vibrant colors and patterns. This stonework can then be integrated into the rest of the kitchen with stone-wrapped hoods, hand-made stone sinks, and backsplashes with ledges.
Metal accents elevate everything from cabinets to lighting. The most popular metals are warm tones, such as unlacquered brass with a soft patina. Indeed, when Google reported a 90 percent increase in searches for brass housewares and lighting in 2022, it was not the brassy gold from the ’80s and ’90s. Instead, people are seeking an understated, artisanal look that ties in with other natural materials, and may even mix with other metal tones.
Clients also are seeking the timeless drama of statement flooring. This includes flagstones placed in diagonal or checkerboard patterns, as well as dynamic wood floor patterns, such as chevron or herringbone. People also are making statements with the bold colors and sizes of their appliances. This includes expressions of personality through the hundreds of custom colors and configurations found in luxury European ranges such as La Cornue, Lacanche, and ILVE.
Organic Shapes, Colors, and Textures
People are bringing nature into their spaces as they are drawn toward wellness and sustainability.
In the kitchen, nature appears in organic shapes, including curved cabinets, radius countertops, round dining tables, and arched doorways. Psychologically, this creates a sense of welcome and abundance. Whether muted or saturated, blues and greens bring the freshness of the outdoors to the indoor color palette. The influences of nature continue in natural textures such as wood cabinets and butcherblock countertops, or in the move away from white painted cabinets toward darker, richer wood tones.
People are seeking the look and feel of a kitchen that flows with the rest of the house. They may repurpose unique tables as islands, or use furniture-style cabinet fronts, reeded panels, decorative grilles, arched tops, and beaded edges. The panel fronts are also used to hide the more utilitarian appliances, such as refrigerators, so they blend in with cabinetry. This visually uninterrupted palette gives the kitchen a streamlined look. Small appliances can be hidden in drawers and cabinets for a clean, calm feel. Layering decorative pieces such as art, accessories, and lighting also ties the kitchen into the rest of the home.
A cohesive style also comes from making hardworking areas of the kitchen highly efficient so there is breathing room to balance the space successfully. For example, we may have tall pantries on one side of the room and then a range hood with decorative sconces on either side to create a visual break. Alternatively, we might have a stone backsplash with a ledge or open shelving to display ornaments.
The most inspirationally beautiful approach to personalizing kitchens comes from the wellness design evolution. This brings us natural materials, colors, textures, and shapes, a place for bold statements, and a flow of design between the kitchen and the rest of the home.
Sarah Walker is an interior designer and owner of Nuance Interior Design Showroom in Bellevue.