Designers dish on kitchen trends

Comfort and warmth key elements of contemporary style

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Kitchens are warming up, but the heat isn’t coming from the oven. The shift in kitchen design trends is about embracing warmth for the room where we tend to spend most of our time, whether it’s socializing, cooking, dining or overseeing homework. The look for the heart of the home is a decidedly more lived in, less perfect approach.

We asked two local interior designers—Lori Steeves, principal at Simply Home Decorating, and Mariana D’Amici, principal at Damici Design—what they see as the significant new design trends for kitchens.

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A change in tone

A move toward richer wood tones for cabinetry is underway, says Steeves. Think warm browns, but nothing as dark as espresso. Pale oak isn’t going away, but we’ll see more wood in browner stains.

The finish, though is quite matte, super matte, notes D’Amici. “It almost has a heritage feel to it,” she says.

Moody blues

There's a move toward more homey less perfect kitchens. Think the English kitchen brand deVOL known for incorporating artwork, accessories, wallpaper and freestanding furniture or built-ins that evoke furniture like this island or china cabinet. Simply Home Decorating.
There’s a move toward more homey less perfect kitchens. Think the English kitchen brand deVOL known for incorporating artwork, accessories, wallpaper and freestanding furniture or built-ins that evoke furniture like this island or china cabinet. Simply Home Decorating. Photo by Provoke Studios

With Benjamin Moore announcing Blue Nova as its 2024 colour of the year, it’s no surprise that deep blues are part of the moodier paint offerings for kitchen cabinetry and wall colours.

D’Amici says painted finishes are also more matte, “but the colours seem to be a lot warmer, less stark.”

Steeves observes that deeper colour is not just navy any more, but also hues with a berry or red tone. Colours are still very muted, but just deeper and richer tones.

“Navy was the start of it,” Steeves says. “That was sort of the foray that felt safe, but now there’s a move toward bolder colours like this [Benjamin Moore] mustard and persimmon and even black.”

Blending in

Hood fans, which once took a prominent, showy place in the kitchen, are now more likely to be integrated into the cabinetry or given a finish that blends with the design. D’Amici says she’s literally not seeing a lot of hood fans: while necessary and present, they’re not obvious. “Things definitely seem to be more panelled, covered,” she explains. “On one project, I even did a tiled hood fan. The hood fan almost blended in with the backsplash.”

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She’s noticed a lot of applied plaster finishes, saying that hood fans are “something designers are incorporating into their design, rather than plunking an appliance on the wall.”

Form and function

While it’s preferable that dishwashers and fridges are integrated with panels matching the cabinetry, D’Amici says an upscale, traditional range with more of a French look is being incorporated into both modern and traditional kitchens. Think brands like Le Cornue, Lacanche, Bertazzoni and GE’s Café line for the more budget-minded.

Zellige-style, Moroccan-inspired tiles, especially in the smaller square format, are a modern way to introduce texture and colour for backsplashes.
Zellige-style, Moroccan-inspired tiles, especially in the smaller square format, are a modern way to introduce texture and colour for backsplashes. Photo by Courtesy City Tile

Stone classics

“Natural stone is still No. 1 in my opinion when budget isn’t too much of a concern,” D’Amici says. “We always try to get some natural stone in there because nothing compares to it.” She adds that leathered surfaces are still popular on both light and dark stones.

Steeves sees statement stones that feature dramatic veining remaining strong. “We’re seeing that Violetta marble that’s got that rich, wine-coloured veining that’s really quite heavy and makes a big statement. Or even a black marble with big veining in it.” For the budget conscious, she advises using the natural stone on the backsplash as it has big impact on vertical space, then using a less expensive composite stone on the counters.

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Cabinetry colours have taken a darker, moodier turn with deeper, richer hues, even black. Simply Home Decorating.
Cabinetry colours have taken a darker, moodier turn with deeper, richer hues, even black. Simply Home Decorating. Photo by Provoke Studios

Hip to be square

Square tiles, a smaller four-by-four-inch size, are making a comeback. This time they’re inspired by the Moroccan Zellige-style tiles, which are usually handcrafted, and each tile is slightly different than the others even when the same colour, owing to the glossy glaze.

“Typically, they are glossy, and they’re textured as well,” says Steeves. “So they do have a beautiful kind of light-capturing, light-reflecting effect, in addition to the colouring. I think it’s a choice that people feel is safe, but a little bit daring at the same time because there’s that irregularity to it, but overall, it’s just a solid colour.”

Personalized patina

Steeves notes that with the move toward a warmer, less perfect esthetic, designers are using unprotected, uncoated metals like unlacquered brass for faucets and cabinet pulls and knobs—“ones that tarnish over time and have that time-worn feel.” A move that fits with a warmer, less perfect esthetic.

People want something that will patina, concurs D’Amici. “Something that will age.”

Adds Steeves: “If people are wanting to do silver, they’re opting for chrome as opposed to a brushed stainless or a brushed nickel.”

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