Realistically, there are certain kitchen trends to avoid if you’re planning a remodel of your space. A new kitchen can be a big investment, and following trends that are past their peak or haven’t adapted to the way we use our homes today might leave you with buyer’s remorse.
When it comes to kitchen ideas, the first thing to remember is that your kitchen should be a space you enjoy. When investing in a new kitchen, you’ll want to love it for years to come. Make sure you spend enough time understanding your needs in this space, the kind of colors you’re happy to live with and the ergonomics that work for you.
Adding interesting finishes, textures and colors play a major part in designing this all-important space. However, some palettes, materials and layouts can quickly fall out of fashion, leaving you with a space that becomes difficult to use or look dated.
Our expert-recommended tips will not only ensure your kitchen doesn’t look dated, but they will also help you choose the right materials, colors, and layouts for a timeless design.
10 kitchen trends to avoid, according to the experts
1. Completely open concept kitchens
Open concept kitchens might be one of the biggest kitchen trends of the 21st century, but the current trend for modern kitchens is to create defined zones to make it easy to work in.
‘When it comes to kitchen organisation, first, you should consider zoning the space instead of going with a free open plan layout,’ says Tom Howley, founder of an eponymous bespoke kitchen makers. ‘Kitchen zones can include cooking, prep, entertaining, dining, consumables and cleaning. Having designated areas will allow you to store and organise items efficiently.’
With more people than ever adopting a work-from-home lifestyle, this ability to have better defined spaces is particularly important. Broken-plan schemes that use room dividers, which keep the sense of openness of open concept kitchens but with physical, often-glass partitions, mean that areas can become private and, importantly, quiet when the need arises.
2. Brass faucets
Brass is a design trend that has, so far, endured and one that’s been adopted into more styles of kitchens than you’d have ever thought it could have. Brass fixtures can be everything from industrial to ultra-luxe, but does this trend have an expiry date?
‘One trend I’ve been avoiding are brass fixtures and finishes throughout a kitchen,’ says interior designer Kendra Nash of Nash Design Group. ‘I love brass, but finishes come and go, so the solution is to use brass as the cabinetry hardware or for the light fixtures because they can be easily changed out.’
So where might you want to avoid using brass in a kitchen? ‘We then will use polished nickel or matte black for the more permanent fixtures, such as the kitchen sink faucet and pot filler,’ Kendra explains.
3. Industrial style kitchens
Are industrial style kitchens still on trend? While they’re not as popular as they once were, they can still be done well. But, there’s a certain way to approach an industrial kitchen, and a certain way not to.
‘I’d avoid the industrial look that came in very strong a few years ago,’ says Vancouver-based interior designer Andrea Rodman, founder of Andrea Rodman Interiors. ‘It used plumbing pipes to hold up shelving and exposed filament light bulbs for sconces and pendants. It was previously very trendy, but now looks overdone and dated.’
If you’re inspired by the industrial trend, there are subtler industrial kitchen ideas you can bring into a space that hint at this aesthetic, rather than creating a pastiche of the style. Focus on materials such as wood and metal with patina or opt for a cleaner industrial style like stainless steel. Avoid anything that’s a cliché of industrial style – that trend bandwagon is already behind us.
4. Specialty appliances
Opting for the latest smart tech can be a great way to make it feel like a super modern kitchen. However, a few years down the line, and that cutting-edge small appliance might be the thing dating your design.
‘I think the biggest trend to avoid in kitchens is any sort of a built-in specialty appliance, such as toasters, fryers, even coffee makers,’ says New York-based interior designer Tyson Ness of Studio Ness. ‘The technology in kitchen appliances changes so rapidly that in a couple of years these top-of-the-line appliances become obsolete or break, and can be expensive to swap out.’
‘Oftentimes they are specialty sizes, so even when you do replace it may not be a simple swap out – or there may not be a replacement available, leaving you with either a dated or broken appliance.’
5. Crystal glamor
Glamor isn’t the brief for every kitchen renovation, but for some, bringing a sense of luxuriousness to the kitchen is important. Once again, some finishes might feel like a shortcut to a luxe look, but there’s a way to infer glamor without relying on hackneyed design choices.
‘Glam chandeliers and sparkly kitchen handles with crystal bling elements are definitely a trend I have seen come and go, for example,’ says interior designer Andrea Rodman.
The trick to a modern luxe kitchen? Rely on materials that feel naturally luxurious. Rich woods and elegant marble or stone kitchen countertops will bring more of a sense of glamor than any glitzy material will, plus it won’t date as quickly.
6. All-white kitchens
Undoubtedly, brightly colored kitchen cabinets have become a big trend in recent years as homeowners start to think more about being happy in the moment, rather than considering the re-sale value when making interior design choices. However, all-white kitchens have also become popular, as a way for a kitchen to fade into the background in a open concept home. Is this a trend we should be getting on board with, though?
‘An Instagram-worthy kitchen isn’t the be-all and end-all of design,’ says Hugh Metcalf, deputy editor of Livingetc.com, ‘but when you spend money on a new kitchen, you also don’t want it to fall flat and not impress your friends and family.’
‘When working on a specialist kitchen magazine, a photographer once told me that photos of white kitchens get about half the likes on Instagram of dark or colorful kitchens.’
While a white kitchen idea can be soothing and restful for the eyes, you might find it doesn’t bring you the same joy as a more impactful choice would. ‘Once you’ve got the layout down, I think it’s sometimes useful to think of a space as smaller vignettes,’ says Hugh. ‘Ask yourself, what’s the part of this space or view that’s provoking a reaction or emotion in me? The right all-white kitchen might do this for the right person, but it’s worth considering.’
7. High gloss cabinets
Every now and again, there might be a gloss kitchen (like this one) that almost convinces you that this trend might be coming back around, however, it’s still one of the biggest kitchen trends to avoid according to designers.
‘High gloss cabinets are a trend that has come and gone,’ says Andrea Rodman, ‘they have a strong dated feel. Softer matt finishes take their place as the more desired look.’
Not only have matt finishes replaced gloss as the choice du jour, but unique textured finishes have become increasingly popular. ‘Visible grain on timbers, especially on crown cut oak and ash veneers, brushed metals, honed, leathered or textured stone finishes & concrete are all being used more often as kitchen materials,’ explains Oana Sandu, lead designer at Blakes London.
Taking a chance on one of these new, textured finishes might be a gamble in terms of longevity, however. While the likes of fluted kitchen islands are super popular right now, we’re not sure what the future will hold for this design trend.
8. Matching colorful appliances
Appliances should be just as much of an investment as a kitchen, and if you choose a good quality product, it can last beyond the next incarnation of your home’s style. Going bold with a colorful appliance like a range might be a way to make a big impact when it comes to your kitchen color ideas, but is it something you’re going to tire of quickly?
‘I’d also say to avoid going all-in on colorful countertop appliances,’ says Livingetc.com‘s Hugh Metcalf. ‘Matchy-matchy interiors are a trend best left in the past in most instances, and colorful kettles, toasters and more can feel too purposefully put together in a space. Try to create more of an eclectic look, or better yet, keep countertop appliances hidden away behind a countertop door,’ he says.
‘And absolutely forget matching them with other utensils, backsplashes or kitchen window treatments.’
9. Patterned splashbacks
While a kitchen renovation is still one of the most popular projects homeowners undertake, the trends within apartment kitchen design have surely seen a huge change. The trend today is not to follow trends at all!
‘I like to keep our kitchens somewhat timeless. A kitchen renovation is a massive expense and I try to avoid anything that will look like it was ‘on trend’ in past years,’ says Kirsten Blazek, interior designer at A1000XBetter. ‘I am currently staying away from any patterned backsplash tile and when choosing a kitchen cabinet color I like to pick something that isn’t spot specific that it will date.’
10. Waterfall countertops
If you’re a statement countertop fan, this one might be a bit controversial, but could the end of the waterfall countertop trend be on the horizon?
‘A waterfall edge countertop design is an aesthetic choice that we believe dates a kitchen,’ says Stephanie Waskins of California-based interior design studio Lark+Palm.
A waterfall countertop, if you’re not familiar, is a design where the countertop material runs down the side of a run of cabinetry, or a kitchen island, as well as on the horizontal surface.
‘In a few years, this will feel like a feature from a very specific date in time,’ Stephanie says. ‘Not only is it void of staying power from a design outlook, but it’s an expensive design choice, adding the cost of the extra material might double the expense.’
How do I avoid my kitchen going out of style?
The one thing it’s hard to predict with kitchen trends is how long they’re going to stick around, which can make choosing finishes for your re-design tricky.
Want a good rule of thumb? ‘In terms of materiality, I try to always stick with materials that have been around longer than I have,’ says interior designer Tyson Ness. ‘These help a kitchen to remain current – even when leaning into popular trends of the moment. Marbles, natural brass, stainless steel and stained woods can be timeless, especially depending on the detailing. Clean lines and classic materials help a kitchen maintain a timeless aesthetic.’
If you do make a bold choice for a color or finish that’s based on the latest trends, consider applying it to something that can be changed later down the line. The kitchen color, for example, can always be repainted if it’s a good quality timber finish, and even your kitchen lighting ideas are a great way to sneak in on-trend materials that can be adapted later down the line if they fall out of style.