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Reimagining the Kitchen: Trends for 2013

Today’s kitchen is a quick-change artist that adores families and loves simplicity.

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Bell shaped range hood in home kitchen

What looks like a hanging lamp is actually the Sorpresa Sphera range hood. Image: Best

If you’re looking to remodel your kitchen, we’ve got good news and bad news.

First, the good stuff. According to trend experts Lita Dirks and Dominick Tringali, you don’t have to shell out major cash to add space. Instead, look to expand what you already have. Vault your ceiling, add windows, squeeze in clever storage ideas. Make the space work harder, not bigger.

Plus, relax. Casual kitchens are trending, with doo-dads and gee-gaws (think elaborate trim and vent hoods that look like medieval castles) going away, and simpler, sleeker designs coming on strong.

Speaking on kitchen trends at the 2013 International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas, interior designer Dirks and architect Tringali teamed up to describe the new American kitchen as one piece of a larger, open floor plan.
 
It’s all part of a new kitchen gestalt that Dirks describes as the “prep-eat-play” triangle, with flexibility and casual living as key ingredients. The notion tosses the kitchen into a design blender along with living, dining, and family rooms, and frappes everything into communal happiness.

Example: You can eat at a comfy banquette, or in front of the TV (don’t tell your child-development counselor), or in the breakfast nook, or you can belly up to the island. No rules!

The bad news (OK, it’s not that bad) is that we’ve heard some of this before. Open floor plans have been around since the moon landing and yes, we like them. A lot. What we really have here is affirmation — and freedom to create kitchens that are less ornate and yet have more personality.

Just like you.

Of course, Dirks and Trengali definitely have the pulse of today’s home owner and offer some great takeaways. We’ve combined their goodies with our own kitchen trendspotting for 2013. If you’re planning a kitchen redo, here’s what you need to know:

Contemporary kitchens are In. Specifically, they’re getting simpler and more modern, with less elaborate detail and trim. In fact, the National Kitchen and Bath Association reports that in its annual survey of kitchen designers, “transitional” design — meaning a simple, more modern aesthetic — has surpassed “traditional” as the preferred design for the first time in the association’s history.

Kitchen cabinets are dark, or white. Darker, furniture-like finishes are popular, but so is pure white. The middle ground — think natural oak — is going away. Dark finishes help the kitchen integrate into the overall scheme; pure white is the ultimate accent color that readily complements the rest of the living area.

Islands rule. Kitchen islands are becoming more multi-dimensional, serving as food-prep areas, snack stations, wine storage, and display cabinets for objets d’art. Also, they’re essential for directing traffic flow within an open floor plan, channeling guests toward comfy seating areas, for example. Small kitchen? Go with a rolling cart that’s there when you need it.

Countertop revolution. Say hi to porcelain and ceramic slabs that look like stone, wood, and fabric, says Jamie Gold, a California designer. The product is made from clay, quartz, and feldspar that’s subjected to high heat — just like regular tile. Unlike other engineered countertops, this product doesn’t use cements or resin binders. It’s not readily available in the U.S. yet.

Appliances are disappearing. In the past, we loved our commercial-style kitchen appliances that made us look like we really knew how to cook. Now, appliances are hiding behind wood panels and faux veneers so they integrate better with the overall living space. New finishes, such as GE’s slate and Whirlpool’s Ice White, are bucking the stainless steel trend, but don’t bet on stainless going away anytime soon — it’s still hot.

Espresso yourself. An eye-catching extra gives a kitchen a blast of personality. Cool sinks and high-tech faucets are au courant. Other possibilities include:

  • Stylish vent hood.
  • Espresso machine.

Glass finishes. Glistening glass is popping up everywhere in the kitchen, especially glass tiles installed as backsplashes. Applying clear glass panels over walls painted soft colors gives a deep sheen that harmonizes with today’s contemporary looks. Bonus: It’s easy to clean.

Grab some fresh air. Outdoor kitchens and entertaining areas are hot. Your indoor kitchen should have an outdoor doppelganger close by, available through wide glass doors.

John_Riha John Riha

has written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

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