In keeping with the cleaner lines of the transitional style, some homeowners are selecting no visible cabinet hardware, instead using concealed hinges, finger-pulls that are notched out of the edges of doors, or latches that close magnetically.
5. LESS ‘MATCHY MATCHY’
Maybe a decade ago, a style began to emerge that has by now become practically de rigueur for designers: a kitchen island in materials or colors unlike those found at the room’s perimeter. “I love to mix materials,” says LaRose. “To me it gives depth, warmth, and approachability and makes something look nostalgic even though it’s new.” But if it’s not done well, this look can be busy and distracting. To keep it clean, Swanson recommends using either cabinetry or countertops different from the rest of the kitchen, but not both. Marshall points out that keeping the island complementary to the perimeter cabinets — say, a pale gray or natural wood to go with a creamy white — can be “less jarring and more peaceful” while still giving it the feel of a freestanding piece of furniture.
In its latest iteration, the trend has moved beyond islands to other areas of the kitchen. In the perimeter, for example, top cabinets may be different from base cabinets. Stainless-framed frosted-glass doors might float above the room’s cherry or gray bottom half, or ebony and maple might coexist with Zen-like tranquillity. Less often but on the cutting edge, brightly colored cabinets may stand out in occasional Mondrian-inspired contrast to the rest of the room, or a baking station or prep area may get a distinctive treatment.
Another variation on the theme is making one piece of cabinetry — particularly in the space between kitchen and family room or the eating area in an open floor plan — the so-called standout. “A definite trend is to have a piece that bridges the gap between the two rooms,” says Marshall. “It goes back to the concept of having one piece that looks like furniture.” Often the standout will be a tall, usually double, cabinet that opens to reveal a wine bar or pantry.
6. VARIED CABINET CHOICES
Cabinets come in a wider array of materials and configurations than ever before. Among the most popular new designs are those with doors that open not with the traditional left or right swing, but by lifting up garage-door-style, by retracting into the sides of the cabinet, by operating as a bi-fold, or even by sliding. All of these options offer increased efficiency for the cook or server. If you use a particular upper cabinet often, for example, you can keep it open while making dinner rather than taking each ingredient out in advance and cluttering up the counter. And if there’s a sliding door under the sink, it gives you access to the trash can until you’re finished preparing food without causing an obstruction to bump your knee on.
Again thanks to the sway of European design, frameless cabinets are sought-after these days. “They actually came over in the late 1950s or early ’60s,” says Eileen Kollias of Eileen Kollias Design in Woburn, “but now they’re really taking hold.” In frameless design, no narrow strips of wood show at the sides, top, bottom, or between cabinet doors. “It minimizes the lines in the kitchen,” says Renovation Planning’s Swanson, “and gives you much freer access to what’s inside.”
Soft-closing cabinets and drawers are everywhere. “If you have a fight with your spouse and slam a door,” jokes Kollias, “it doesn’t slam anymore.” Lighted glass-front top cabinets are also finding fans (LED bulbs make the ambient glow more cost-efficient), as are lights inside drawers and base cabinets, often activated by motion sensors when you open them. “Now you can actually see that container of oatmeal that fell off the shelf in the back,” says LaRose.
7. THICK OR THIN COUNTERTOPS
There’s not that much change in countertop materials — granite, quartz, and marble still reign supreme — but whatever surface you choose, it’s likely to be either thicker or thinner than the standard 1¼ or 1½ inches you’ve seen in the past. “European cabinets come in varying heights,” says Kevin Briggs of KB Design in Reading and Poggenpohl Boston, “so they allow for a lot more freedom of design.” Today’s countertops can go as thin as a half inch or as thick as 5 inches. Island countertops are often twice as thick as perimeter ones, and, in very contemporary designs, may extend down the sides of the islands for the sort of boxy, masculine look that LaRose cites. And many countertops are being fitted with built-ins such as a cutting board or a flush-mount composting bucket near the sink.Continued...