With the constant barrage of kitchen inspiration Instagram provides, it can be a challenge to resist the temptation to overhaul your home every time you fall in love with a new trend. Well-designed cooking spaces seem to have their own kind of beauty, and who among us hasn’t imagined that a pristine counter and set of cabinets wouldn’t make life just a little bit better? The thing is, redoing almost anything in the kitchen is pricey at best and astronomically expensive at worst. So if you’re itching to incorporate some current kitchen trends into your space, it’s best to look to the ones that don’t require any renovations at all.
And yes, those do exist. In fact, if you want to try out any trends in your kitchen, the less permanent ones are precisely what the experts recommend. “Kitchen design is such a big expense, so we're always against anything that's *too* trendy in the kitchen, especially if it's permanent,” The Finish co-founder Stephanie Purzycki tells TZR in an email. “You don't want to regret a choice in three years, but have to live with it for a decade or more because it's too expensive to replace. If you want to try out trends, do them in small doses on easy-to-swap elements: Window treatments, hardware, the island, even plumbing fixtures can be changed out fairly easily.”
As for the exact trends worth trying this year? TZR tapped three design professionals to break them down — so continue on to find seven you can implement easily and affordably now.
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2021 Kitchen Trend: Saturated Hues
Those all-white kitchens you’ve been seeing everywhere? Cathie Hong, Principal Designer of Cathie Hong Interiors, tells TZR that they’re starting to die down. Taking their place? According to Purzycki, saturated, colorful kitchens “in shades of deep green, navy blue, even wine-colored” are trending right now — all you need is a little elbow grease. “This is an easy one to recreate with cabinet paint,” she says. And, if you don’t want to tackle the entire space, “you can also just do your lower cabinets or kitchen island to add some contrast.”
Alternatively, Hong says she’s loving subdued tones of white that lean taupe, which provide a softer take on the stark shades that have been so popular. “We've been loving Farrow & Ball's School House White and Benjamin Moore's November Rain lately.”
2021 Kitchen Trend: Unique Textures
“Lime wash, roman clay, and plaster are having a moment, and for good reason!” says Hong. “They add texture and warmth to an otherwise flat surface.” Not only are these unique alternatives to traditional materials, but they’re also being used in unexpected ways, she continues. Hong explains that her firm is designing “more and more kitchens” with lime wash range hoods, and they’re even seeing it as a backsplash in lieu of the typical tile or stone.
2021 Kitchen Trend: Furniture Islands
Yes, it is actually possible to indulge in an island trend without overhauling your kitchen. According to Purzycki, the “furniture island” is a trend that’s not only impermanent, but easy to implement. “These freestanding islands can be added to kitchens that don't have them, or you can swap an old or too-small island with something that better suits your style,” she explains.
2021 Kitchen Trend: Vintage Rugs
Not crazy about your floors? Skip the expensive replacement and simply invest in something to help disguise them. According to Isabel Ladd, the founder of Isabel Ladd Interiors, an antique or vintage rug provides a busy pattern and colors that will “hide traffic and stains.”
2021 Kitchen Trend: Unexpected Backsplashes
It’s time to say goodbye to your standard subway tile — as Hong notes, it’s finally on its way out. Instead, she recommends a slimmer 2"x8" ceramic tile with a “high variation glaze” set in a vertical stack. “The layout feels much more modern, and the variegated glaze makes it feel elevated.” (It’s true that this would require light renovation, but the designer explains that it’s minimal in cost and will leave the most expensive parts of your kitchen untouched.)
For those who are maximalist-leaning, you’ll be glad to know there are some louder trends for you as well in this arena. Ladd shares that show-stopping backsplashes are also in these days — and that there are endless possibilities. “Forgo the expected tile,” she says, “and instead, add wallpaper, slabs of mirror (antique mirror slabs are always my preference!), or even have a mural painted.”
2021 Kitchen Trend: Statement Lighting
Lighting is something people tend to forget about (especially in the kitchen), but it’s actually a great way to add extra interest without a big change. One trend in that category that Ladd is loving right now? Replacing “expected” kitchen pendants with lights you’d typically find in other areas of the home. “For instance, a statement light you expect to see over a dining room table or a foyer — move that into the kitchen for some pizazz!”
2021 Kitchen Trend: Painting, Not Replacing
Due to both cost and sustainability reasons, Purzycki explains that people are trying to find “more ways to update their homes without renovation” these days. Thus, many are trying out projects they never would have considered a few years ago, including painting things like floor tiles and even appliances.
“Colorful appliances, or ones that match cabinetry, are trending, and appliance paint is an easy and cheap way to freshen outdated appliances,” she shares. And in terms of floor tile, she says that using “large tile stencils to create patterned looks” or even just a solid coat of tile paint on the floor is popular now and can make a huge difference in your kitchen’s aesthetic.