Hot Kitchens & Cool Trends

September 2016 View more

Kitchen trends come and go. For the past 30 years, however, one trend is unchanged: kitchens remain the undisputed heart of the family home. No wonder, then, the kitchen is often the first  room in our homes to be remodeled. This fall, whether you want to remodel your kitchen’s outdated layout, or if you simply want a fresh new look with the latest in technology and design, you are not alone. From the hottest trends in kitchen appliances, color palettes, surface materials, and innovations in cabinet design, top kitchen remodeling designers reveal what is trending in the western suburbs.


Less is more

No matter your style, one overarching remodeling trend echoes the old adage “less is more.” “Today’s trends are all about clean lines and simplicity,” says Gail Drury, Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD) and president of Drury Designs. “Gone are intricate moldings and heavy details. They are being replaced with more contemporary styles.”

Case in point? Cabinet and drawer facings. The newest kids on the block are flat panel doors, flush with the trim, often painted in shades of white or light greys. Combined with minimal hardware, or no hardware at all (using a one-touch mechanism), this more contemporary style is making its mark in many of Naperville’s newest kitchens.

Countertops, too, are moving away from busy designs from veined stones like marble, in favor of stone or materials with more evenly distributed, less contrasting hues. “There is an acceptance now of countertops that are extremely uniform,” notes Lisa McManus, ASID, National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) and award-winning residential designer for Normandy Remodeling. ”Like new quartz composite products that look almost like concrete, or that can look like marble with an authenticity we couldn’t achieve just 5 or 10 years ago.”

Appliances, too, are keeping a lower profile. Microwaves, for example, formerly in more visible locations like countertops or over-the-stove, are now housed in a less noticeable, under-the-counter microwave drawer.

And while stainless steel for appliances is still the mainstay, designers are seeing a return to appliances that blend in with cabinetry. “Homeowners are coming back to the built-in look with applied door panels to match the cabinetry,” said Mike Ducato, vice president of sales at Reliable Home Improvement with over 30 years of design experience. “This was popular 10 to 15 years ago. They want a seamless look. Easy maintenance. More streamlined.”


Maximize efficiency

But today’s kitchens aren’t just streamlined for visual impact. Well-designed layouts combined with innovative materials and cooking appliances mean that today’s kitchens are also smarter, more convenient, easier to maintain, and often more energy efficient. “Maximizing space is important to understand because for so many clients it’s a major stressor,” McManus says, pointing out an essential skill set designers bring to the table. “We handle this all the time so issues about lack of space aren’t uncommon. We have solutions—that’s our purpose.”

Take, for example, the universal dilemma of insufficient pantry space. Contrary to a homeowner’s belief that the solution is more square footage, good designers know it’s really about eliminating wasted space and using storage solutions tailored to the unique needs in each home. “Every homeowner wants a pantry cabinet,” Ducato explains about this common problem. “I usually design this to have adjustable shelves on top and roll out drawers on the bottom. I want to maximize the storage.”

Today’s innovative drawer products are an invaluable tool in the kitchen designer’s toolbox. From pull-out drawers under sinks, to corner drawers, cookie sheet drawers, deep cabinet organizers, pull-out spice racks, dish drawers, pull-out shelves, and more, there is a place for everything so everything has its place.

As homeowners come to understand their unique needs and how they utilize the kitchen, it is no surprise even the humble sink is undergoing some improvements. “Multi-functional galley sinks have become popular,” said Drury. “They have strainers, drying racks and cutting boards all incorporated into one sink.”

Newer synthetic and composite materials are also making life easier in the kitchen. Beautiful and infinitely more durable than their traditional counterparts, quartz-composite countertops, for example, enable families to spend more time together cooking, entertaining, and socializing and less time maintaining or worrying over stains and scratches, more common in natural stone.

For those with more contemporary or modern leanings, there’s an even more exciting new countertop product turning heads. “In contemporary kitchen countertops, ‘thin’ is the word. There’s a new material being used in contemporary kitchens that is just 8 mm thickness as a countertop. The most well known is called Dekton™ made by Cosentino, a manufacturer of Silestone Quartz counters. It’s the hottest item,” said Ted Kawczynski, CKD, CBD and president of The Kitchen Master. “It’s a glass product that doesn’t look like glass but looks and feels like porcelain. Or it can look like granite. It’s impervious to anything; it can’t scratch or burn. It’s very, very hard, it’s totally maintenance free, and stain free.”


Hot appliances

Of course, no kitchen remodel can be complete without considering the latest and greatest thing in kitchen appliances. Topping the list in cooking innovation for 2016? Steam ovens and induction cooking tops. “A lot of people are asking for the new glass induction cooktops to replace the large, bulky commercial ranges,” said Drury. “Steam ovens are also very popular and are replacing microwaves in a lot of homes.”

According to Kawczynski, one reason people love the combination steam and convection ovens is their unique ability to keep food moist. Armed with digital sensors, they can adjust to the size and types of food and bring leftovers back to life or make days-old bread taste freshly baked by adding moisture that’s often lost in refrigeration.


Quality of life

There was a time when remodeling a kitchen in Naperville was often about resale value. And while that is still an important consideration when taking on a remodeling project, many homeowners today are taking a longer view.

“Many homeowners in Naperville contemplate the remodeling of their kitchens to improve not only the room but to improve the quality of their lives,” Kawcynzski says of today’s homeowners. “The lives of everyone in the household now and in the future are improved by designing the kitchen to fit the needs of every age child and teen as well as the parents and live-in grandparents.”