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The 2021 Kitchen Design Trends Transforming the Home

December 1, 2020
By NKBA Staff

If we have learned anything from this past year, it’s that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the way people spend time in their home. Kitchen layouts, materials, and styles are noticeably shifting as homeowners remain in place and are adapting their lifestyles as priorities change.

According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, homeowners will have a greater desire to invest in their home in the upcoming years, which includes, but is not limited to, the need for multi-purpose spaces in the kitchen, integrated whole home technology, minimalistic styles and the use of organic or natural materials and enhanced outdoor living areas.

The Rise of the L-Shaped Kitchen Island

The kitchen has been considered the heart of the home for a long time now—a place where families gather for meals. As working from home and home-schooling become more commonplace, the focus turns to enlarging the kitchen footprint, which may even mean taking down walls. One of the top trends to emerge includes creating L-shaped islands to maximize counter space and open the layout. Now, islands have become a space to work, to home-school, to use as a dining table, to use for meal prep and to use for extra—namely, hidden—storage. Islands have thus turned multi-functional.

“Kitchens are getting an intense workout these days! With parents and kids working from home and navigating alternate schedules," remarks Lori Gilder, NKBA member and founder, Interior Makeovers Inc., "an L- shaped kitchen plan allows for multiple activities throughout the day as constant traffic meanders through this space.”  She continues, “our clients called to share how pleased they were with the layout, functionality, and materiality of their new kitchen addition, and how easily this new space functioned for them with their college kids back home.”

L-Shaped Islands and open kitchen layouts are major trends for 2021. Design: Lori Gilder, Interior Makeovers, Photography by Zeke Ruelas.

With the kitchen footprint increasing, the need for easy-to-clean surfaces is top-of-mind for most homeowners. Quartz countertops will continue to be the leading material , as they are very easy to clean, and will be seen in lighter colors and slab or long subway backsplashes. Induction cooktops for their cleanability are on their way to surpassing gas cooktops.

A Taste of the Outdoors, In

A new leading style trend comprising natural and organic materials has been making its way into people’s kitchens. While contemporary and transitional styles are forecasted to be the most in-demand, this new look showcases the importance of maintaining a sense of calmness, well-being and simplicity during an otherwise chaotic time. Designers see full painted wood and full wood grain cabinetry becoming more popular, in addition to warm and natural finishes and larger windows, to bring the feeling of the outdoors inside.

Large windows and French doors will help bring the outdoors inside the kitchen. Design: Elma Gardner, CMKBD & CID, By Design Studio, Inc. Photography by Jeffrey A. David Photography. 

“Seamlessly integrated indoor/outdoor living spaces have long been a priority for clients interested in working with my design firm,” said Elma Gardner, NKBA member and Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer and Certified Interior Designer, owner and president of By Design Studio, Inc. “Organic materials flow easily from one space to the other and I am seeing a strong trend toward a color palette rooted in nature.”

Organic and Natural finishes create a minimalistic and calming feeling. Design: Svetlana Tryaskina; Photography by Erik Rotter Photography. 

Technology In the Kitchen

Whole-home connectivity is at an all time high. According to the NKBA, technology in the kitchen continues to grow. Top priorities include dedicated device charging and viewing, seamless video communication, emergency power of the refrigerator, leak detection, voice-activated lighting controls, and touch-free faucets. Collectively, these features make the lives of homeowners more efficient, convenient, and safe.

“The Internet of Things, where devices can talk to other devices without any human involvement, will be trending in 2021,” stated Scott Koehler, NKBA member and founding president, Dream Kitchen Builders. “Manufacturers are using artificial intelligence software to replace hardware like control panels in appliances.” 

Smart appliances, such as this range and vent hood, can communicate with each other. Photography courtesy of Signature Kitchen Suite.

Additional details and a complete listing of the NKBA 2021 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends are available in the NKBA store under “Market Research Reports”.

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Summary | 7 Annotations
If we have learned anything from this past year, it’s that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the way people spend time in their home. Kitchen layouts, materials, and styles are noticeably shifting as homeowners remain in place and are adapting their lifestyles as priorities change.
2020/12/08 14:33
One of the top trends to emerge includes creating L-shaped islands to maximize counter space and open the layout. Now, islands have become a space to work, to home-school, to use as a dining table, to use for meal prep and to use for extra—namely, hidden—storage. Islands have thus turned multi-functional.
2020/12/08 14:33
“Kitchens are getting an intense workout these days! With parents and kids working from home and navigating alternate schedules," remarks Lori Gilder, NKBA member and founder, Interior Makeovers Inc., "an L- shaped kitchen plan allows for multiple activities throughout the day as constant traffic meanders through this space.”  She continues, “our clients called to share how pleased they were with the layout, functionality, and materiality of their new kitchen addition, and how easily this new space functioned for them with their college kids back home.”
2020/12/08 14:33
A new leading style trend comprising natural and organic materials has been making its way into people’s kitchens. While contemporary and transitional styles are forecasted to be the most in-demand, this new look showcases the importance of maintaining a sense of calmness, well-being and simplicity during an otherwise chaotic time. Designers see full painted wood and full wood grain cabinetry becoming more popular, in addition to warm and natural finishes and larger windows, to bring the feeling of the outdoors inside.
2020/12/08 14:33
“Seamlessly integrated indoor/outdoor living spaces have long been a priority for clients interested in working with my design firm,” said Elma Gardner, NKBA member and Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer and Certified Interior Designer, owner and president of By Design Studio, Inc. “Organic materials flow easily from one space to the other and I am seeing a strong trend toward a color palette rooted in nature.”
2020/12/08 14:33
Top priorities include dedicated device charging and viewing, seamless video communication, emergency power of the refrigerator, leak detection, voice-activated lighting controls, and touch-free faucets. Collectively, these features make the lives of homeowners more efficient, convenient, and safe.
2020/12/08 14:33
“The Internet of Things, where devices can talk to other devices without any human involvement, will be trending in 2021,” stated Scott Koehler, NKBA member and founding president, Dream Kitchen Builders. “Manufacturers are using artificial intelligence software to replace hardware like control panels in appliances.” 
2020/12/08 14:33