Kitchen Trends – Don’t Renovate Until You Read This

By Steven V. Philips –

Oct.neutralWhen both of my friends asked me what are the great kitchen trends in America right now, I got positively woozie from the stress of being a expert. It soon passed. Here’s what I know:

Despite the fact that nationwide the square footage of homes is decreasing, the kitchen continues to grow, literally and figuratively. It’s the designated social center of the house as well as occupying the most significant portion of interior real estate. Kitchens still sell houses.

You know how everybody ends up in your kitchen, even if it involves a human pyramid? Thus, the tearing down of dining room walls and family room walls continues. Everybody wants that open-concept look. Like living in a loft. Hosts want to entertain and be entertained by their guests as they prepare food and mix drinks. Moms say they want to watch their kids do homework or play while they cook. Honestly? If so, soon you’ll  see more flexible seating arrangements in the kitchen thus making the living room wall the next barrier to tumble. In summary, the open-plan kitchen-plus+++ continues on. Banquettes are already hugely popular for seating.

If right now or  sometime next year you’re going to make your big kitchen move, here are some specifics to keep in mind.

My best advice – always, always – is, don’t go cheap, go moderate-plus. For cabinets, appliances, fixtures, hardware. put your budget into quality and durability. And don’t wait until the last minute to think about lighting, because lighting in a room changes everything from paint color to your mood to how well your kitchen performs when the sun goes down.

LED lighting is the choice to make. LED has an 80% energy efficiency, vs 10% for incandescent and 70% for fluorescent (CFL) and kids, LEDs can last for up to 100,000 hours. (CFLs have about 10,000 hours life.) Since your kitchen uses the most lighting in the house, unless you desire chopping off your finger in the gloom, and light consumes 25% of your electricity bill, the kitchen’s the best place to go LED. (And don’t make me go over using proper lighting – under the cabinets, over the island and for overall illumination. Have you paid no attention to my previous sermons?)


As for kitchen islands, they’re getting larger. Cooktops and/or sink – plus seating need more space. Duh. Second kitchen islands with prep sinks are starting to show up too. And hovering over cooking islands, are some exciting range hoods. Some simple, some complex (ok, too complex) but all with very low-noise fans and some with lighting LED inside.

Another oncoming 2014 feature that appears to be a great idea is the seamless glass backsplash. Yup, high-gloss glass that’s painted on the back side! Very easy to clean for us neurotics and imagine what else you could put behind the glass. My weight-lifting photo is available, pre-paid.

Oct-dark-light-hood2014 counters? Granite still prevails for kitchen horizontal surfaces. Tumbling or texturing granite does help with durability and it’s more practical than marble. Quartz, limestone and basalt show up too. Also consider reclaimed materials such as glass aggregate and poured sealed concrete. And stainless steel. Some homeowners really want that “restaurant kitchen look,” and stainless counters will get you that. And holy 1970s, butcher block reappears.

Coming this late in the 21st Century is the ceramic counter. It’s a composite of feldspar, clay and quartz that’s squished together under high heat. A giant floor tile to work on! You could also consider a porcelain counter top manufactured by TPB Barcelona, Spain. Made originally for train (as in choo-choo) exteriors, porcelain could be very exciting in a residential kitchen. All those people who gather there because of your open-concept house would have something current to talk about but. But, don’t send out e-vites yet. Porcelain and ceramic counters haven’t yet sailed to the New World.

Along with natural green/recycled counters, look for more recycling bins hidden in cabinets close by. In some cases, lidded pre-compost food-waste buckets are in the same area.

2014 appliances? Professional/gourmet-quality gas ranges are what trendsetters want. Look for deeper sinks and higher faucets. And as I so brilliantly pointed out last month, Apple design cometh to other appliances near you soon. Touch screens from Electrolux and others. Glass-front appliances such as ovens and microwave.

Oct.recycleConsider a semi-miracle, the induction cooktop. Gaggeneau’s version has the entire surface of their cooktop as one massive induction cooking zone. Talk about home on the range. The cookware shape is automatically identified when placed and heated only where it sits. Exactly and only when it sits. The touch display shows the positions, sizes and shapes of the cookware. I love this concept because it’s truly customized cooking.

For 2014 the color palette will be neutral – grays, tans, greens (sort of organic territory, no?) Bold colors only for accents. It’s been that way for the last two or three years and it’s not changing. Those earthy, soothing, spa hues and shades are here to stay big time. And wood is still popular for floors and cabinets. While some designers insist dark wood is in – stained maple or cherry – the next designer says light wood. Some are using dark on the cabinets and light on the island. Oh, what to do?

If you’re renovating or updating, how long will it take in these modern times? A full kitchen re-do takes about six weeks. If you can go live someplace else, count yourself among the blessed because you’ll be surprised at how much of renovation is just demolition and dirt. Rip-out and replace in the same places, four to five weeks and another one to two weeks for counter tops. Bank on this and also count on costs coming in at least 15% over your initial budget. Trust me, this always happens. That part of the kitchen trend business is timeless and ageless and not just a trend.


8 thoughts on “Kitchen Trends – Don’t Renovate Until You Read This”

  1. Oh so true Mr P! The kitchen is where it is at for gatherings. I recently saw a lovely condo kitchen remodel with glossy finish bamboo cabinets and wave appearance back splash. WOW! Most impressive for this little kitchen in a beachside condo. Tile on the floor & granite counter tops and mission accomplished.
    I would love pre-compost bins included in my cabinets.
    Great advice and as always I’m smiling as I read.

  2. Loved this article. Probably never doing a kitchen makeover at this late date but I can read your article and dream. Absolutely the kitchen is the gathering spot. I would love to knock down the wall between the dining room and kitchen. That’s a maybe?

  3. All sounds wonderful! I want to re-do our kitchen very much too. Make the kitchen, dining room, and family all one giant room. Open open open! I love all the ideas in the article. And yes, I would want to move out for however long it takes to get it done – don’t want to live through a kitchen re-do!

  4. Elmer N Columbus

    Nice article Mr Philips. My wife and I have upgraded our kitchen installing granite counter tops, a new “floating” floor that’s as hard as nails but the coup de gras was the under cabinet halogen lighting. I didn’t realize how dark the counter area was until we had the new lights!

  5. Beautiful and functional kitchens are wonderful. Your article should be bookmarked by all those considering remodeling. It is full of useful information and as always fun to read.

  6. How come the pictures of kitchens always look so much better than real life kitchens? Is it because I never spend enough $$$?

  7. Lordy Lordy, I’m beginning to think Mr Phillips has lost his marbles !!!! We made the kitchen bigger and better and more expensive and now I can’t get people out of there. Ever try getting people to move while they are draped over the counter telling tall tales about some lurid scene from their office or some fantastic football play from a highschool game 40 years ago. As you start carving the turkey, brandishing a saber and sharp fork ,. they snatch bits of turkey off the platter. Very annoying !!!!! I have a solution however, I now string up crime scene tape over the entrance to the kitchen and can enjoy the peace and quiet. Make sure you put the bar fixings and snacks at the opposite end of the house. It Works !!!!!

  8. Mr. Columbus:

    THANK you for underlining/highlighting (pun?) my favorite complaint… the lack of specific task lighting in kitchens!
    Keeping all of your digits intact is so helpful.

    One gold star for you.
    (You’ll have to supply your own glue.)


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