The Kitchen Specialist

Latest Trends in Kitchen Design – Beauty in Simplicity

By Mary Leigh McDonald

Life today is complex. With all the daily pressures and demands on our time that we continually juggle, it’s not surprising that we are seeking to create a true haven in our homes. Perhaps nowhere is that more the case than in our kitchens. Our clients tell us that after a busy day at work, they don’t want to come home to a space that feels overwhelming and difficult to maintain. What they are seeking are streamlined kitchens that are both functional and beautiful.

Durham Clean and Crafty Kitchen Design and Remodel - White Cabinets

This desire for simplicity is manifesting itself in more transitional cabinetry and molding choices as we see homeowners gravitating toward clean-lined minimalism. Where once we stacked multiple pieces of intricate crown molding atop our cabinets, we’re now seeing simpler pieces with far fewer details. Likewise, homeowners are moving toward more transitional and even modern cabinets. Echoing the streamlining of their trim work, customers are moving away from heavily molded, raised panel doors in favor of looks that feature a small bevel or other subtle detailing.

Because the cabinets we offer are custom made (and are built to last for 20+ years,) our clients want timeless designs that will last both functionally and stylistically. White cabinets are still by far the most common ingredient, but clients often want to add a little spice to the mix. We feed that desire by combining varied styles and textures. Sometimes we’ll mix a simple frameless cabinet in the kitchen with an inset cabinet furniture-style piece in the eating area to serve as a buffet or bar. Other times we’ll introduce a laminate that realistically imitates walnut or a more expensive exotic wood. These laminates have come a long way and are very low-maintenance. We might also combine a walnut laminate on base cabinets with soft white wall cabinets to create a timeless yet dynamic look.

One of the things I love about working at The Kitchen Specialist is that, as a full renovation kitchen design firm, we take the time to interview our clients extensively about how they actually use their kitchen to ensure that it’s designed for how they live. That’s apparent in what we include inside each cabinet. We’re typically adding more and deeper drawers than was the case in kitchens of the past. We’ll add dish inserts in base cabinetry, multiple silverware and gadget drawers, and spice inserts next to the range to allow cooks to easily access what they need. In some cases, we’re eliminating those old, reach-in sheetrock pantries in favor of tall cabinets with tandem or pullout pantry inserts that bring your groceries out to you. These modern versions not only maximize your space but are more functional and blend seamlessly with the rest of your cabinetry as well.

Durham Traditional White Kitchen Design and Remodel - Pull Out Pantry Cabinetry

One of the most popular choices when it comes to topping those cabinets is quartz, particularly styles that look like marble. Many manufacturers, like Caesarstone® Silestone®, and Aurea Stone, have recently introduced some wonderful surfaces that convincingly mimic the look of marble but are far more practical – because they don’t etch or stain quite like marble can. The granite that we are installing today is more of a medium to high-level granite with a lot of movement and flow. Leathered granite (which has a more textured, matte finish than your typical smooth and highly polished granite) is gaining traction, as is mixing surface materials throughout a space. We often combine a walnut countertop on an island or seating area with quartz or granite everywhere else.

That desire to introduce varied textures is carrying over to a myriad of surfaces in our kitchens. Glass tile is popular because of the visual depth its translucency creates. Even a staple as classic as subway tile has been updated with a beveled edge to give it more three-dimensional appeal.

Durham Clean and Crafty Kitchen Design and Remodel - Big Island

The finishing touch in today’s kitchens is embracing warmer tones and borrowing from the past. Gold, brass and warmer hues are coming back en vogue for decorative hardware and lighting fixtures in particular. Today’s variations have a rich, brushed vintage feel that mixes well with the new transitional looks. After all, at the end of the day, we are still seeking the warm comforts of home – just without the maintenance!

Mary Leigh McDonald has an interior design degree from CIDA-accredited Meredith College. She spent three years as an interior designer in Raleigh before coming to us two years ago. She has always loved art and math and thinks that her work with clients at The Kitchen Specialist is the perfect melding of all her passions.