According to the recent 2020 Renovation Nation report commissioned by money.co.uk, British homeowners have invested an average of £4035.70 each in their homes since the first coronavirus lockdown in March. This comes as no surprise. Without holidays or other costly annual expenses, thoughts have turned to home improvement, and many have decided to give their pad some serious TLC.
Kitchen renovations remain popular, with over a fifth of the report’s respondents looking to refresh this particular room above all others. Particularly, these amateur improvers were looking for materials, fixtures and fittings offering luxury and longevity. When investing in surfaces, whether worktops, splashbacks, floors or walls, this balance of style and substance was even more important.
As the surfaces used in the kitchen-diner space shape the overall design, choosing a quality, high-spec material is essential.
Stylistically, ensuring you capture the zeitgeist and avoid the passé is almost as crucial. So, in this most unusual of years, what trends are starting to emerge and, moving into 2021, what can designers expect to define kitchen design? Here, Neolith’s CSMO, Mar Esteve Cortes, flags a few of her favourites, straight from the kitchen.
It can be tempting to over-complicate but remember, beauty often lies in simplicity. Following a less-is-more approach, clean lines create a relaxed vibe with a pared-back aesthetic which harmoniously blends form and function. Further, curating colours tone-on-tone will help unify the space, emphasising the home’s role as a sanctuary from the outside world.
Some of the most successful statement kitchens use only two or three different colours on a large scale, creating expansive backdrops which allow other interior features to stand out.
This approach is underlined with a certain degree of utility, and with an accompanying focus on integrated appliances and hidden storage options. Moreover, lightweight surfacing options, particularly in neutral wood or marble patterns, cut to size, are proving popular to maximise space, creating an uncluttered and elegantly refined environment.
A room for living in
For many households, the kitchen is the social hub of the home. Recently, it has also assumed the role of remote office and, for many, has become the most lived-in room. Therefore, this space must be simultaneously attractive, comfortable and practical.
Consumers are looking to invest in quality. Using high-spec surfaces is the best way for designers to deliver this. With an increasing focus on long-term value and qualities such as stain resistance, hygiene and low-maintenance design being integral to the purchasing decision, how a material performs is just as important as how it looks. No-one wants to make an expensive investment in a weak product.
In my opinion, a consistent guarantee of quality is an undervalued attribute but one which any manufacturer of luxury kitchen products is keen to uphold. Designers need to look to those who deliver on this claim and produce visually-stunning materials with underlying strength and reliability.
Extroversion defines this trend, mixing opposing colours to achieve visually powerful kitchen cabinetry and worktop/splashback combinations. It’s not just limited to monochrome; the whole spectrum can be embraced, employing bright and unusual shades for a punchy but playful effect.
It’s worth noting that when bold cabinets are specified, choosing a lighter worktop will add gravitas to the room, removing any risk of gratuity.
This approach also allows the designer to play with colour combinations and varying textures. Woodgrain surfaces are enjoying a revival thanks to an increasing appreciation of Japandi design principles, in which light wood and dark stone offset one another. Other textures such as matt and polished can also be used to create juxtaposition, creating compelling interest within the room.
As kitchen tech and new gadgets continue to evolve in 2021, we see an increased effort in designers hiding them from view, especially in urban kitchens, where they are increasingly being built to smaller specs.
Integrating appliances within kitchen furniture is an effective way to incorporate the latest devices into the space without them dominating the room. Each year, I’m amazed at the ingenious ways in which this can be achieved. A good example is setting a hob into a kitchen island to create an attractive and functional visual statement. Undermount sinks are a great option too, delivering a more discreet, cleaner look than inlaid metal options which tend to scratch, stain and blemish easily.
Further, specifying the sink basin in the same material as the worktops and splashbacks creates a sense of continuity within the space, and blends it with its surroundings.
Embracing the casual living movement, which has dominated 2020, kitchen islands have risen to the top of the UK homeowners’ wish lists. Not only do they provide a central focal point in the room, but they also serve a useful purpose, providing a fixed spot for informal dining, a workspace, a culinary prep station and storage. A kitchen island can help unify the room’s overall look, as the colourway chosen for this central feature will dictate the design of the rest of the space. When we can socialise again, I think the kitchen island will provide the ideal way to integrate cooking and entertaining, making this important room feel welcoming and inclusive.
Interior design is often a reflection of the current state of society, and the past year has given us lots to consider. These are just some of the many new trends I’ve seen emerging. What is clear is that quality is equally as important as appearance, particularly in the kitchen environment and, more specifically, its surfaces. Against the backdrop of the waning coronavirus pandemic, I feel it’s this sentiment which has the potential to define or, perhaps, dominate the design agenda in 2021.
Whatever the trend, whatever the brief, I urge designers to think holistically about the materials they use in their 2021 project. Their clients will thank them all the more for it.