Kitchen Trend Spotting with Susan Serra

Our fantastic friend Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS shares a few exciting new innovations and trends in modern kitchen design. 

Observing kitchen design trends from year to year can be all about nuanced changes, and kitchen trend spotting for 2014 is no different. A big expense and a long-term investment in function and style for most homeowners, kitchen fashion trends tends to be slower to change than general interior design.

04.24.14 | By
Kitchen Trend Spotting with Susan Serra

It is that subtle change from year to year which makes me turn Trend Detective to dig deep and consider social behaviors, world events, European interior design, product launches, trade show exhibits and even Hollywood sets to connect the dots.​ This year I’ve been to four trade shows and two in Europe to study kitchen trends.​


Mixed Messages – The Trend for 2014
Last year, ​innovations in ​kitchen design w ere​ centered largely around ​a​ccess – easy access into cabinetry​ via cool/smart storage aids, access via lighting, cabinet door and drawer design and other aspects which also served to address Universal Design principles​ and continues its importance in trends for 2014 and beyond.


This year, the theme for kitchen design, to my point of view, is ​”​Mixed Messages.” Complex in some ways, simple in others, with contrasting philosophies​ within the same kitchen design​, I am seeing mixed messages in each trend I describe below which happens to suit today’s lifestyles. Let’s take a look at how Mixed Messages are expressed in the kitchen in 2014.

Here are trends I am seeing:


Clean Cabinetry
Leading lines in kitchen cabinetry continue to be simple, straight and clean. I see an even more modern aesthetic, and a chunkier look than last year, but at the same time, I see the mixed message of strong texture and warmth which serves to hold the aesthetics back from an uber sleek look. For traditional styles, we continue to see a simple elegance – less is more, especially in small kitchens. ​ Cabinetry clearly has more of a furniture connotation whether modern or traditional, due to the desire for an open floorplan.​ Concealed work stations are trending more than in previous years.


Perfect Imperfection
Looking at the entire kitchen for 2014, we may indeed see​ cabinetry with sleek surfaces and design but it will be juxtaposed with rich texture. That texture may show up anywhere in the kitchen such as flooring, backsplash, hardware, lighting which reflects the popularity of personal expression. Few rules are followed here. The perceived imperfection in textured materials are remarkably consistent for a look that flows visually.


Oversized Yet Invisible
As the kitchen becomes kissing cousins with surrounding rooms, large scale design elements are moving into the kitchen. Oversized lighting fixtures continue as a trend. A single wall is featured with a strong or dark color, creating a sense of place and giving a natural dimension to the space. ​Extended tables are everywhere. ​Wall-sized printed murals of a photograph, a personal design element, adds emotion to this mostly utilitarian space. Windows and kitchen islands continue to be large in size, a response to a seamless visual connection and social needs of the open floorplan.


Backsplashes are taller and wider and are experienced as an architectural feature in their simplicity whether colored or neutral. Likewise, large, built in hoods, a trend which continues but which may not be mainstream still. Tile is appearing in even larger formats for 2014 in quiet colors and textures, supporting this trend as well.



Intuitive High Tech
Appliance technology is a big Mixed Messages story for 2014. The familiarity of the tablet has been fully integrated into the new Dacor 30″ oven with wifi connectivity, allowing apps and new recipes to be downloaded and programmed into the oven – complex, yet familiar, accessible from your smart phone as well.

Hood by Faber lays flat and protrudes with the wave of a hand

Hood by Faber lays flat and protrudes with the wave of a hand

European appliances, famous for confusing but chic icons, and highly technologically advanced, have recently designed intuitive controls into their ovens, sometimes with retro dials​, a mixed aesthetic message that works​. Several appliance brands offer smart phone appliance operation (some via SMS) with a single app controlling multiple appliances (of the same brand.) It’s been quite a start and stop road of consumer acceptance for appliance connectivity over the years but 2014 could be the year appliance brands offer tech tools that make sense-advancements toward simplicity. If it includes a smart phone, it has potential to be useful in my opinion.


Neutral Colors continue their popularity for 2014 in cabinetry, countertops, appliances and flooring. Whites, off whites, cool grays, warm grays-all are still trending and wood stains (for cabinetry) run the gamut from lighter than middle toned finishes to dark. An exciting new introduction in the neutral appliance segment is Miele’s color, Truffle, a cool glass surface paired with stainless steel trims. It’s a non-color color that is ideal for a chic warm-cool palette in the kitchen ​ and goes with many wood stains and painted colors​. ​Matte finishes are prevalent in all areas of the kitchen.​


Countertop colors, particularly in engineered stone, today’s countertop of choice, are darker and understated. Dekton is Cosentino’s new brand of engineered stone, suitable for outdoors and indoors. It is heat resistant to 1200 degrees and has a sophisticated color palette.


Kitchen Architecture
Architecture in the context of 2014’s Mixed Messages concept does not refer to the structural design of a building. In the kitchens of 2014, the “idea” of architecture is expressed in sink and faucet design such as BLANCO’s One sink, certainly in cabinetry, in ever more appliance brands, tile design and witnessed through the visual “blocks” or increasingly simply designed sections of cabinetry. ​Modern design in warm colors and vintage accessories is the perfect mixed message for a feeling of warmth.​



Other Trends:

  • Medium to light matte wood flooring, often in off whites to warm grays in wider planks
  • Artisan and vintage furniture and accessories
  • ​Continued open shelving trend
  • Blues, medium coral, deep blue/gray feel fresh and all other colors may make an appearance in fabrics, accessories, artwork
  • Black accents in smaller doses than other years
  • Mixed media, mixed periods, mixed use for optimum function