These kitchen design tips will show you how to break the rules, make life easier and create the gorgeous kitchen of your dreams.
With all the recent challenges we’ve faced, many of us have been stuck indoors, staring at the same walls for longer than we’d like—and realizing we need a change.
The kitchen isn’t just the heart of the home, more and more it’s where people are expressing their individuality, talents, creativity and desires. “There’s been a big shift,” says Leif Larson, regional showroom manager of Infusion Kitchen and Bath Showrooms by ETNA for Grand Rapids, Traverse City and Holland. “We’ve gone from ‘I want this kitchen like my neighbor has’ to ‘I want my kitchen to look completely different from anything out there.’”
Let’s face it, it’s the perfect place to express and refresh your at-home lifestyle.
The pros at Infusion suggest that when setting out to re-imagine your dream kitchen you’ll tap more creative inspiration if you think about three key categories: pro-level additions, life-hack solutions and crave-worthy design choices. Here are some of their best insider kitchen design tips on how to tap current trends and create a space to die for.
Photo by FRANKE
Boilerplate designs are giving way to more flexible spaces, pulling inspiration from professional kitchens. So how can the serious home cook support their ambitions? A few great trends to try:
- The chef center/work station sink. “Think of it as a sink that’s also going to serve as a serving station for entertaining,” says Ben Karmann, a regional showroom manager with Infusion Kitchen and Bath Showrooms by ETNA for Wixom, Grand Ledge and Kalamazoo. “It’s very much a lifestyle piece—and very awesome.” Chef center sinks have a combination of functionality, with tiered levels that allow for a knife block, cutting board, colander and more. A caveat: It’s best for a new-build situation, but can be done when looking to replace a countertop as well. “This is the kind of thing that needs to be spec-ed in early because of cabinet depth considerations,” Karmann says. He adds that there are some similar products or custom-made sinks that can be created if you don’t want to change out
- Voice and touch-activated faucets. “Alexa … turn on my faucet?” Absolutely. With faucets like the Delta Brizo, you can program to fill exact amounts, which you access by voice command. It’s especially handy for everyday tasks you do repeatedly, like “fill Emily’s sippy cup” or “fill Mom’s water bottle.” Another feature: turn the water on and off with a touch anywhere on the faucet—like nudging the neck with your elbow—making it easier to be hands-free and not cross-contaminate surfaces.
- Water filtration. Simple, under-the-counter-elements can plug into your existing water flow and make it every bit as good or better than bottled. “Water quality matters,” Karmann says. “For health and flavor, but also, for example, for home brewers—the mineral content, the metals, pH can all can affect the overall mouthfeel and taste of what you’re brewing.” On top of that, think about the waste and constant use of plastics with bottled water. “This is a great way to reduce that, and you’re saving so much money.”
Photo by Elkay
THE LIFE HACK/PROBLEM SOLVERS
Just because we’re spending more time and money on our kitchens doesn’t mean we want more work. These solutions make cleaning and kitchen life a breeze.
- Bar sinks and taps with instant hot, cold and sparkling water. Beverages just got better—an on-demand cup of tea, vodka soda or mocktail makes for a hassle-free treat. Not only that, but you’ll also save on clutter (put away the soda stream and kettle) and waste (no more LaCroix cans).
- Easier counter-culture. Soapstone and marble are stunners, but they’re high maintenance materials that can stain like crazy and need regular care and sealing. Even good old granite needs love. Instead? “People are going to quartz and Corian,” Larson says. “It’s not only pretty but can mimic granite. You don’t have to seal it, there’s very little maintenance versus real stone and Corian is anti-bacterial.”
- In-wall residential bottle fillers. These days everyone has their own Hydro Flask for sports, school, the commute, yoga class—being able to fill it at the door as you’re leaving is a big deal. Bonus: It’s fast filling, and filtered. “This is a serious convenience item,” Larson says. “These can be placed in the laundry room or mudroom, for easy access for kids.”
Photo by Brizo
Crave-Worthy Design Choices
The “Somethings Gotta Give”-inspired white kitchen has been all the rage for years. But in a refreshing twist, homeowners and designers are ditching safe bets and neutrals, mixing colors and materials, and shaking up the whole idea of what a kitchen should look like. Try these fun kitchen design tips.
- The mixing of metals, colors and woods. “When people are remodeling now, rules are being broken,” Larson says. It used to be that you’d choose a wood finish and carry it throughout, or settle on a finish like brushed nickel and have that show up in all your fixtures and hardware. Not so these days. “It’s not unusual to have a hammered copper farm sink, stainless steel and matte black metal all in one room,” Leif says. Prediction: black and gold combined is “going to be hot,” Larson adds. The same rule-breaking goes for mixing colors with cabinetry—the island can be one color, the perimeter another.
- Vibrant, saturated color. We’re kissing greige goodbye at last; jewel tones are coming back strong. Navy and classic blue have been recent front runners (classic blue is Pantone’s color of the year) but Larson adds, “We’re also seeing hues like hunter green. And not the whole kitchen—a portion, and then a more neutral tone elsewhere. But there’s a definitive color focal point.”
- Naked woods. The dark and gray stains are taking a backseat as trends turn toward highlighting the beauty of natural wood. “It could be a natural maple, very light, or a deep black walnut,” Larson says. “It’s a celebration of the natural beauty—hand-scraped, clear coated.” You’ll see this in a custom-made stove hood, mantelpiece or bar.
- Keeping it black and white. Sturdy stainless may have given way to bold brass, but the trending finishes for fixtures and hardware are matte black and gloss white.
- “People want a story,” Karmann says. “If it’s something handmade, or from a 100-year-old company, that becomes ‘I want one.’” Think artisanal touches or even customizable pieces like Kohler and LK’s farm sinks with interchangeable wood or porcelain front skirting.
All in all, the best design news for anyone craving a kitchen upgrade now is that there are more choices and fewer rules. But that can be an obstacle in its own way. “Oh, our clients come in very educated, thanks to sites like Pinterest and Houzz,” Larson says. “It’s our job to make sure their inspiration is going to function like they think it’s going to function. I’ve seen pretty bad things that aren’t even to code, so as experts we can help them make it work. But most importantly, we’ll help get the look without exact duplication. We help them interpret a design and really make it theirs.”
More Kitchen Design Tips + Inspiration: 12 Best Northern Michigan Kitchens of the Decade
Written by Cara McDonald
Photo by Infusion by ETNA