If there’s one room in the house that struggles with fleeting fads, it’s the kitchen.
A nostalgic farmhouse-themed kitchen — exposed wood beams and all — defined the mid-1990s. By 2010, a “trendy” kitchen meant lavish marble countertops, distressed wood floors, and pure white cabinets.
The hottest 2021 kitchen elements take “modern” to new extremes.
Get with the times! Here are five cutting-edge kitchen design trends that you need to know about when you’re ready to give your cooking space a much-needed facelift.
Edgier & More Modern Backsplashes
If your sink backsplash is still cabinet-high square tiles paired with crisp white grout, the ‘90s called:
They want their kitchen back!
For the newfound backsplash connoisseur, 2021 is about going bigger, shinier, randomer, and less conventional.
Hexagons, Hexagons, Hexagons
Hexagon tiles are the latest kitchen sensations invading Pinterest boards worldwide. This bold accent offers a blank slate and 100% creative liberty to DIY your backsplash.
Jumble together a black, grey, and white mosaic pattern for a classy, modern space. Add a few rogue, disconnected tiles to go full-blown retro. Or, infuse a gentle ombre gradient to really stick it to ordinary interior design “laws.”
The latest backsplash fad is also a tried-and-true way to spice up a muted, monochromatic, or otherwise dull kitchen:
A beautifully-crafted mosaic pattern.
On top of the peel-and-stick easy install sheets, the opportunities are also limitless.
Commit to a more rustic, Italian-esque kitchen theme with natural stone mosaics. Shoot for eye-catching glass tiles to bring a more natural shine and shimmer. Or, add a mosaic strip to a subway tile backsplash to tie together two trendy themes.
Go Big, Or Go Home
Brick-sized subway tiles might seem off-kilter in 2021. Yet, massive 4” x 8” backsplash tiles boast two unique qualities — a classic style that makes a mini kitchen seem huge.
The resulting “ah-ha” moment depends entirely on your imagination.
Infuse glassy grey tiles with eye-popping white grout to deliver sophistication. Or, pair white subway tiles with dark grey grout to take a more comfortable design risk.
Reflective or Mirror-ish Backsplashes
If wild colors and bizarrely-shaped tiles are too extreme for your liking, try reflective! These tiles can make any kitchen modestly eccentric and more “polished.”
But just how shiny are you willing to go?
Install glossy, ceramic tiles for a satisfying glisten post-sunrise. Or, leave your comfort zone in the rearview and take the pure silver mirror tile plunge.
Hideaway Kitchen Storage Solutions
Even with a French-door refrigerator and walk-in pantry, there’s no such thing as “too much” kitchen storage space.
But when your spices, pet bowls, and rosés begin eating up too much space, 2021 delivered the unimaginable:
Here’s the satisfying collision between convenience and style:
- Turn an entire cabinet into a pull-out pantry, the perfect hideaway for your spices, flour, sugar, and cooking oils
- Tuck your favorite whites, reds, and rosés in a pull-out wine rack replacing one of your cabinets
- Slip two- or three-tier drawer organizers into your drawers to double your pot and pan storage space
- Hide Fido’s food and water bowls in a toe-kick drawer to neaten up your kitchen and keep from tripping over them
Don’t let your microscopic kitchenette convince you that a modern space is off the table. Maximize your kitchen space and hop on the latest design trends.
Ditching the Standard Island
In old-school House Hunters episodes (circa the early-2000s), a kitchen island could clinch an on-the-spot sale. These days, a chic granite island with classic bar stools tucked beneath and a hanging pot rack overhead has lost its allure entirely.
Bright Colors That *Pop*
Pastel paints and subtle cabinets are safe design choices. But if you want to sprinkle in some pizzazz and colorful contrast, paint your island’s base a color that pops.
Introduce a shade that your other cabinets would be jealous of, like:
- Olive green
- Robin’s egg
- Dark grey (a safer choice)
Without an obnoxious yellow or green that screams “tacky,” your island should be the first thing guests notice as they arrive.
The “New-Fashioned” Double Island
You spruced up the entire living room from top to bottom with an elegant brick fireplace, 65” flat-screen TV, and luxury leather sofas. Yet, the party always seems to gravitate to the kitchen island by night’s end.
If space isn’t an issue, matching parallel islands can double your counter space while also catering to your guests’ needs.
Set up a buffet line before the next big game. Call dibs on Sunday brunches. Or, even play “bartender” as your college friends return for a hoorah just like old times.
Maximizing That Island
American culture is about striving to go bigger and reaching unprecedented extremes. For the home chef looking to bring out their inner Emeril Lagasse, a massive 35 sq. ft. kitchen island is a “given.”
Spread out your cutting boards! Work on the homemade tomato sauce and cannolis simultaneously, and prepare a Sunday feast like never before.
So Long, Basic White Cabinets!
Casual design snobs were once notorious for turning their noses up at kitchens that dare to feature anything but white cabinets. But if you thought this simple and timeless trend would last forever, 2021 is the year of the underdog (sort of).
Wood … Is … Back!
Old-school wood cabinets are making an unexpected comeback, fueling regret in homeowners who made the switch away too soon. But it’s not the light cherry, maple, or white oak cabinets relaunching.
It’s anything but.
Rather, it’s the deep-palette woods. Mix-and-match cabinets (black uppers and natural wood lower), and distressed doors that are all the rage in 2021.
Monochromatic kitchens are always a touchy trend. One misstep can send that all-black kitchen into “overboard” territory.
The trick is treading delicately and infusing similar shades.
Sprinkle light grey tiles and subtle wood floors into your contemporary all-white kitchen. Or, break-up the monotony with a lone contrasting element, like a light marble countertop on an island in a monochromatic black kitchen.
If you’re on the “grey” train, never settle for just one shade!
Does a grey, black, white, or beige kitchen scream “boring” or hide your personality?
Then you’re the perfect candidate for unconventional cabinet colorings, like:
- Muted, cool blues
- Pastel greens
Fight the urge to get too eccentric. One tone too bright, and your kitchen will look more blinding and circus-like than you were hoping.
High-Tech “Smart” Kitchen Appliances
In the 1980s, a high-tech kitchen offered a mini TV on the table that you’d watch Sunday morning cartoons on during breakfast. Carol Brady and Danner Tanner couldn’t have possibly imagined the “smart” kitchen trend of today.
Among the bizarrely technical modern kitchen appliances are:
- Automatic pan stirrers so you can give your arms a much-needed rest
- Smart toasters for the perfectly crisp English muffins or toast
- Amazon Alexa-enabled microwaves to heat sauce as you’re stirring the pasta
- WiFi-connected ovens, refrigerators, and dishwashers (because why not?)
Dumping $3,000 on a four-door refrigerator equipped with a tablet might be well out of budget. But smart thermometers and coffee makers are practical and cheaper.
Gutting the kitchen for a fully-modern overhaul can cost over $50,000. The last thing you want is to bedazzle your backsplash with reflective tiling or drop $300 on a smart toaster, only to feel deep regrets:
What have I done?
Create a kitchen that brightens your 7 a.m. wake-up coffee and draws the crowds when you have dibs on hosting the next Super Bowl.
If you’re still hesitant to jump on the modern kitchen bandwagon, play around with online kitchen design tools first. That way, you can discover whether your “dream kitchen” looks as flawless as it does when you shut your eyes.
What’s “hot” by today’s standards might make your current space seem HGTV-worthy.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Paramount 3800 to help them with their online marketing.