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The 11 Kitchen Trends In 2021 That Are Both VERY Exciting And Totally User-Friendly


I decided it would be “fun” to read the intro of last year’s kitchen trend post before I started to write this one. Let’s just say it was “fun” in the same way that it’s fun to look back at your diary from highschool – comical, cringe-y, and you’re constantly thinking, “Oh baby, you don’t even KNOW what’s ahead of you.” HA. I think we can all say we did not under any circumstances know what was ahead of us. So because of our truly “unprecedented” 2020 year, it may or may not surprise you that a good amount of the predicted trends never really took off. Why? Well, the pandemic made us look at design differently. Comfort and real longevity were at the top of everyone’s list. Investing in things that were “hip” for the sakes of being cool felt and still feels quite literally like the least important thing in the world.

Sure we still want ideas that are new and exciting because if you are reading this post you too are a design lover. Don’t worry we have lots of ideas for you to sink your teeth into. But I think this post will be surprisingly refreshing in that it’s far more inspirational than aspirational. Kitchens are BIG this year and this year’s trends are far more doable which gives actual, tangible ideas (unlike some from years before… looking at you, cylinder hoods even though you were and are awesome).

Let me show you what I mean…

Floor to Ceiling Tiles: Subway Tile

design by patricia greene isen | photo by simon upton | via elle decor

Did I hear your heart skip a beat when you saw this photo?? Me too. This floor to ceiling, wall to wall zellige subway tiles are SUCH an impactful way to make a bold but timeless design choice. It has so much texture, is easy to clean (yes please), and is just really beautiful (plus paired with that black and white diamond floor your eyes just keep happily bouncing around.)

design by adam lippes | styled by carlos mota | photo by stephen kent johnson | via architectural digest

But zellige tiles might now be in your budget so even choosing a more traditional white subway tile can still be awesome. I love how Adam Lippes chose a darker grout for contrast and also tiled THE CEILING. I think the trick is to make sure that you either have another bold pattern on the floor like in the first photo or contrast the walls with a nice wood floor. That way your eye has a break and with wood flooring you get instant organic warmth.

design by mandy cheng design | photo by madeline tolle

But remember that you can use color too! I love how Mandy Cheng chose this green (still a favorite cabinet color amongst the design world) and flipped the tiles vertically. It’s excited without being “too in your face”. Also, those swings are also super cool.

P.S. Albie might have something cooking with this trend in mind:)

Floor to Ceiling Tiles: Non-Subway Tile

Subway tiles are a great and likely more affordable option but if you like to design even further outside of the box then don’t worry this section is for you.

design by bosco sodi | photo by alex krotkov | via architectural digest

Ok, I know these are technically the actual walls of this home but I love how these bricks bring so much organic material into this kitchen while still having an awesome pattern. Just an idea for those organic lovers:)

decorated by patrick mele | photo by miguel flores-vianna | via architectural digest

These tiles are busy but so beautiful and still feel classic. I think this would work best if you have an enclosed kitchen (aka not an open concept floorplan). That way you get your big pattern moment without having to look at it 24/7. Also, I would consider only using one, maybe two materials for your cabinets/countertop, like in the photo above. The simple stainless steel balances out the busyness of the pattern so it’s not too visually overwhelming.

design by rebecca gibbs design | photo by the good things | via domino

Now if small, detailed pattern isn’t your thing but you don’t want to do a simple subway, do something like this. Rebecca Gibbs decided to play with shapes instead of pattern and it really paid off. It’s beautiful, interesting but doesn’t overwhelm you.

Large Scale Diamond Flooring: Tiles

design by chiara de rege| photo by max burkhalter | via architectural digest

I think this is the biggest trend of the year (even outside of the kitchen). Well, the large scale diamond shapes at least. Well, get to more options in a minute. It’s truly the perfect pattern and size to be timeless, bring in a bold pattern, and contrast the size and shapes of small wall tiles. It’s the dream and I’m SO glad it’s back in full force.

design by polly harbison design and arent & pyke | styled by steve cordony | photo by anson smart | via yellowtrace

This example is a bit more of a modern take with its color and terrazzo secondary pattern (is that a real term?) It feels really formal at first glance, then gets a bit trendier as you look closer:)

Large Scale Diamond Flooring: Painted

design by landed interiors & homes | styled by cj sandgren | photo by haris kenjar | via the eye agency

EEE! This is might be my favorite version and if you are brave enough a VERY doable DIY. Emily has been eyeing this painted wood pattern for a minute and we really can’t get enough. It’s just so damn charming.

design by hilary robertson | photo by dana gallagher | via remodelista

Now, natural wood and white aren’t the only color options. You can do a classic black and white too. There are no rules. Heck, try a navy even!

Large Scale Diamond Flooring: Vinyl

But for those of us who are renters, don’t have the funds, or just want to try before you buy, vinyl is always a great option and is affordable. These are two great current examples but let’s not forget Brady’s kitchen floor from three and a half years ago. See it’s completely timeless.

Large Scale Checkered Flooring

design by bridie hall | photo by paul massey | via house & garden

So while diamonds might be at the top of the 2021 trend list, checkered kitchen floors are next in line. I mean the checkered pattern has been exploding in general (I have been a huge fan) so why not put it on the floor?? Plus when it’s in a color it’s so happy.

design by adam bray | photo via the modern house | via remodelista

But when it’s in a soft black that’s also great. Again, no rules.

design by studio mcgee | photo by lucy call

What’s great about the checkered versus the diamond pattern is that checkered feels a bit more “modern” and/or “trendy”. So when you have a traditional style kitchen like the one Studio McGee designed above, the checks make it feel a little fresher and dare I say, more 2021:)

Glass Enclosures

design by casa josephine | photo by mirta rojo

This trend, in my opinion, is completely informed by the pandemic and the need for a little more privacy. Here you get the illusion of privacy without completely shutting off your kitchen to the rest of your home. The best of both worlds, right??

design by crystal sinclair designs | photo by sean litchfield

Even if it’s just one window like in this kitchen above, you have the option of cooking in peace. Plus you also get a beautiful architectural moment. Accordion glass interiors windows? Yes, please.

design by sarah poniatowski | photo by nicolas mathéus | via architectural digest

With this example above, it gives us two ideas. 1. you can take an existing wall and add an interior window for more light and flow or 2. you can build a wall for more privacy but add an interior window for light and flow. That way it’s not completely closed off. It’s your house so play with all of your options.

Dark Stone Countertops With Medium Wood Toned Cabinets

design by commune design | photo by stephen kent johnson

We’ve talked about a lot of countertop/cabinetry combos in the past but have yet to dive into this one. Personally, I really love it. It continues the “warm toned” kitchen trend of last year but adds in the depth and dimension with the dark stone countertop. It’s pretty darn inviting, right?

design by a 1000 x better | photo by virtually here studios

This wood is slightly lighter but it still works. Had the wood been any lighter it wouldn’t have that same visual warmth. I think warmth and coziness are what we’ve been craving in our homes this past year in particular which is why I think this pairing is trending.

These two photos not only sell it for me but also show its style versatility. I’m a big fan if you can’t tell.

Single Material Vertical Stove Backsplash

design by ysg studio | photo by prue ruscoe

This was one I asked Julie about. Sometimes you see something pop up that catches you off guard and you aren’t sure if you’ve been seeing it forever or if it feels new. Julie confirmed I wasn’t seeing things and that this vertical single material oven backsplash is indeed a 2021 trend. Look at that marble, it’s perfect.

design by phoebe nicol | photo by felix forest

It’s great because it’s simple, doable, and more cost-effective since you aren’t trying to cover an entire wall and you can use metals or tile.

design by sara and sohail zandi | photo by tim lenz | via clever

I really love it when it’s only behind the stove and there isn’t a border along the perimeter of the counter like in the photo above.

design by craig and katherine johnston | photo by james deck | styled by jackie brown | via the design files

However, a little border never hurt anyone because this tile situation is very sweet.

Mid Rise Single Slab Backsplash

design by sanders & king| photo by sharyn cairns | via est living

Ok, so I confirmed with Julie about this too. Two Libras are better than one!

With this backsplash trend, there is no need for multiple heights and subsequent cuts. All you need is one long low to mid-rise single slab piece. I love that it’s taller than the popular skinny trim backsplash but lower than the mid-wall version. The goldilocks of backsplashes if you will.

design by landed interiors & homes | photo by haris kenjar

See how it looks great in a traditional kitchen…

design by suzanne gorman | photo by prue ruscoe | via the design files

And a super modern one?? V.E.R.S.A.T.I.L.E.

Range Cubbies

design by devol kitchens

If I were doing a kitchen reno I would 100% create a range cubby. What is a range cubby you ask? Well, it’s a little (or large) structure in your kitchen that holds your range and hides your vent. So a total dream and can be totally customized.

design by jean stoffer design | photo by stoffer photography interiors

These rounded corners are perfect and I love the extra-wide counter space on either side of the range.

design by studio mcgee | photo by lucy call

This one is both modern and traditional and I love the counter to ceiling cabinets flanking the cubby. Such pretty clean lines.

via farrow & ball

What’s also great is that you can choose any shape of cubby you want! This one is so beautiful. I also love the teal cabinetry with the navy island together:)

design by and and and design and studio life/style| styled by kate flynn | photo by stephen kent johnson | via domino

This cubby is also very linear like a couple of the ones above but I think this kitchen just needs a moment in the sun. How pretty is it??? This is from the same designers that designed the kitchen with the round island from last year’s trend post. They are so talented.

Wood Cubby Accents

Boy oh boy do we love a good wood accent and these are no exception. I think all of our jaws dropped to the floor when we saw Velinda’s first client project and those wood cubbies (and canned backing). So simple but such high impact. And then later last year, our other EHD alum, Ginny showed off one of her client projects with similar (but different) wood cubbies in the kitchen.

design by home studios | photo by brian ferry | via dezeen

The trick is for the wood to be a medium tone (sense a trend??) and for the wood to be about 2 inches thick. That way it adds visual warmth in a bolder way than if you used a thinner wood.

design by altereco design | photo by nikole ramsay | via dwell

They also need to look built-in and contrast with the colors and materials it’s next. If you’ve done that then you are all set.

The Kitchen Skirt

design by leanne ford | styled by kate berry | photo by nicole franzen | via domino

I always like to make sure that there’s at least one trend that doesn’t require a reno. For example, last year it was table lamps on countertops and the year before that one was kitchen mirrors (which is honestly also big this year…see above photo)

So this year, skirts are back. Leanne Ford’s new kitchen (above) is SO charming and that shirt most definitely adds to it. I love how a skirt can soften a kitchen. I’m actually planning on adding one in my kitchen this year:)

design and photo by carlos sánchez-garcía | via domino

Same goes for this kitchen. What a fun burst of pattern at what was probably a very affordable price (or could be:))

I also noticed in these two photos, they both have small tiled sink backsplashes. I am here for it! It’s so sweet and a great way to find and use cool vintage tiles since you don’t need a ton of them.

design and photo by studio laloc

I also like this slightly more refined skirt option. It’s on a brass bar with hooks so that the pleating is more unified. Plus that backsplash is also adorable.

The Single Shelf (The 2019 and 2020 ALL STAR)

design by amber interiors | photo by jess isaac

Em felt that the single shelf needed to be mentioned because it is still going STRONG. When Athena Calderone’s kitchen hit the internet at the end of 2018 all of our design hearts melted. Not only was the whole kitchen (well entire home) stunning but that single shelf was the star we all couldn’t get out of our heads. And it still lives on in various iterations like in Amber Lewis’ new kitchen above. Also, Sara’s new kitchen might have one of these beauties in it…coming soon:)

design by brigette romanek | via architectural digest x black interior designers network

Brigette Romanek even included one in her Iconic Home kitchen rendering. Man, I wish that beautiful kitchen could someday be built out for real.

design by studio mcgee

Studio McGee is also still a big fan. I mean it’s both beautiful and practical. Why wouldn’t she still be?

design by crystal sinclair designs | photo by sean litchfield

And our last example is that of Crystal Sinclare. She is SUPER talented and you all should check her out. Also, this is the same kitchen with the interior accordion windows. Very Athena inspired:)

So those are the 10 (plus 1) kitchen trends of 2021…so far. While we are all cautiously entering this new year, we are SO excited to see all of the insane creativity that is most definitely going to come out of it.

With all this said are any of you in the middle of or planning a kitchen reno? Are you implementing or now wanting to implement any of these ideas? Have you noticed any other kitchen specific trends? Let’s chat!

Love you, mean it.

Opening Photo Credits: Design by Landed Interiors & Homes | Styled by CJ Sandgren | Photo by Haris Kenjar | via The Eye Agency

Fin Mark


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Something I’ve never understood are the shelves directly over the range. Don’t they get super greasy? And doesn’t it mess with effectiveness of the range hood? Especially if they’re wide enough to hold dishes and things. They sure are beautiful though! Does anyone actually have one of these? Please advise 🙂


I doubt it affects the effectiveness of the hood. It’s a standard design in restaurant kitchens. But greasy shelf? Definitely.


Interesting that it’s standard in restaurant kitchens! This explains a lot. I need to pay closer attention when watching Top Chef. Thanks 🙂


Karen is correct that it doesn’t affect the hood’s effectiveness, the air circulates around it. She’s also right that these shelves are very common in restaurant kitchens where function usually comes before form. This is typically where pans are held, within easy reach, and it’s also a warm spot during service so sauces, etc. may be held there without unnecessarily reducing or taking space on the range. These shelves do get very greasy (both top and bottom) and in professional kitchens (at least Michelin star quality) these spaces are thoroughly cleaned after service each and every night. The ventilation filters in the hood are also cleaned very frequently, something I think most home cooks forget to do. In this case it helps (in a pro kitchen) that they’re all stainless steel. If you’re planning on putting in a shelf from a decor perspective only, note that it absolutely will require frequent cleaning, so it should be a surface that can withstand that. I would also recommend keeping only items on it that would not be negatively affected by the temperature fluctuations. (No oils decanters for example.) Definitely not against the idea, (I love the function!) but it’s good to evaluate… Read more »


The diamond floors have been catching my eye lately. I keep daydreaming where I’m going to do it… patio might be in the lead.

I just added a “skirt” to an upper open cabinet in my bathroom that always exposed our clutter in the mirror. My friend labeled it “colonial chic”.

Great trend report!

i am OVER THE MOON about the fact that dark countertops (black) and wood cabinets are back in style. we bought our house in 2008 and the previous owners had renovated the kitchen into that trend (with the faux tuscan trend of those early 00’s) of the black granite countertops and cherry wood cabinets (though not the ugly red cheap fake wood – ours are actually nice wood) and even though it’s not my style, i refused to ever change anything because i find trashing real stone countertops to be so insanely wasted because of the mining process to get them out and they took hundreds of thousands of years to form in nature. anyway, we are putting our house up for sale this spring and now, with some minor updates (floor, backsplash, cabinet hardware, faucet), this kitchen won’t be so dated anymore. yippee!


same problem! Everything is stainless and I want to update the knobs/pulls from the faux tuscan trend you referenced but I strongly prefer brass and am having a hard time finding something fun/flows with the rest of the kitchen. Good luck with your house sale!

thanks shauna! everything was stainless in ours as well. i changed the hardware to matte black and plan to do that with the faucet. i changed the light fixture to a mitzi 3-globe one with black on half of each globe and brass in the other parts. i may change that to all brass though. i’m considering painting the cabinets, but i generally don’t want to paint over pretty wood. but i think it will brighten it up. if i paint, i may change the hardware to all brass. but still do a matte black faucet. our sink is a stainless undermount. i’m not changing that. i love the ease of cleaning stainless, plus, the granite is custom cut for that specific shape of sink. i was thinking of doing a brass faucet, but i don’t know how i feel yet about that look with a stainless faucet. i’ve seen it done, and sometimes it’s good and sometimes it not as good. good luck with your kitchen as well!

oh, and check out these cabinets with black countertops! eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! these colors are giving me life and making want to paint mine!


Check out Tob Knob for hardware. They have great quality pieces that feel fresh!


Where are ypu hoping to move to?
Why are you moving?
Huh? Yeah, I’m nosey!🤣

ha! not sure yet, still looking for the right house, but i’ll share all the deets when i have some. right now, just a goal for the spring/summer!


🤩 That’s exciting and very spontaneous! xx


Yes, I had the same reaction! My house was built in 2006 with the black n’ brown kitchen combo. Luckily more transitional than Tuscan. I’m glad things are swinging back our way.


No one I’ve seen is talking about the waste of good stone being torn out of ’00 kitchens! Unlike wood, it is not a renewable resource, so thanks for bringing it up.

Great post by you… You have explained your post very well and collected good images of kitchen.

Thanks for the post.

Ash W.

Finding myself really drawn to the images without bar stools. While they appear to still be a big thing for kitchen renovations in 2021, is anyone else feeling over them? I think it’s because I’m longing for more face-to-face interactions, and most bar stools lead to side-by-side chatting/dining. Plus, you can’t lean back/stretch/sit for more than 30 minutes in one of those suckers, no matter how much padding is going on.

I recognize that for small homes, the stools are there out of necessity…but many of these images come from grand, sweeping abodes, making me wonder—why not spring for an intimate table instead? That’s why the first image of this post is most appealing.


I do agree about the long term sit at an island. I like the large kitchen table versus island.


Totally agree! To me they’ve always just looked like visual clutter. I’ve also never understood the logic of putting a bunch of stools next to a dining table (like why would you sit on a stool when a comfortable chair is right there?).


We have a 48″ round wood dining table with comfy dining chairs, and it’s literally next to our big 10×5 island (that has stools on three of the sides), and we naturally migrated to eating at the island for dinner. I bet we’ve sat at the dining able 10 times total over the course of three years. The island is just more central, I guess.


I think it depends on how much entertaining (typically, not in a pandemic year!) you do. I find that people enjoy being around the action in the kitchen and tend to congregate at the island where it’s quite nice to have a place to sit. I have swivel stools with a back for better conversation, but honestly to each their own. If you have no use for counter/bar stools in your kitchen, then ditch em!

Our bar stools (which are VERY comfortable and have backs) get so much play while I cook. I would be so bummed to not have the company to hang out with while i’m chopping. I practically insist that my friend sit and relax (and talk to me) and without the stools how could I force this? 🙂 But I BELIEVE in back support. 100%


Must have back support and foot bar.




I’m remodeling a kitchen right now that is 12 x 20 ft and putting an island in the center, with counter seating on both sides facing views. The counter stools are soft and have backs. It seemed like the best solution to replace a little kitchen/little dining area with one big kitchen with a dining island, and it opened up the views. I hope it meets with whatever 2021 throws at us.


From a practicality sense, I love our barstools and I would never consider getting rid of them. They are probably our most used pieces of furniture. My husband and I spend so much time on our island–cooking, meal prepping, puzzling, playing games, etc. There’s something about being able to stand/sit and kind of come and go from an island that just doesn’t work with a standard intimate table (which we also have use when we can). We have 3 stools–two on the long side and one on the shorter end with an extended counter. This lets us be more “face to face” as you’ve said above. But anyway, NO, not over them at all!! They are so practical for us.


I recently saved this photo in Houzz because I thought it was such a cool idea to have a bar height table in the shape/size that an island would normally be. Gives you the advantage of an island (cooking/chopping) but the option of a real kitchen table too. Of course it sacrifices normal island storage but the openness might be nice in my kitchen that’s not huge. I’ve also kept a lot of images of islands that have seating on 2 or 3 sides. Hate the idea of sitting all in a row staring in the same direction while sharing a meal.


I like having both options! I love the island and stools with kids especially. I can prep food and turn around and seeve it to them like I work in a diner 🙂 We also have a strange habit of all eating at the island (only two stools so my husband and I stand) when dinner is something thrown together like quesadillas. If I spent more time cooking even if it’s just soup then we eat at the dining table. Guess that’s our formal dinner situation 😉


I think one of the keys to keeping medium wood cabinets and dark counters feeling fresh, not outdated, is to keep everything super simple clean lines – I notice the cabinets in your pictures are very modern in style even with the medium wood tone, very minimal or no hardware, the lighting is very simple and modern, and there is simple floating shelving. Otherwise it can quickly look like a kitchen that was designed in the early 2000s.

I like the look of the range cubbies theoretically, but every time I think about actually cooking at one of them, it gives me a bit of a claustrophobic feeling – especially if it was built around a standard sized stove instead of one of the oversized ranges pictured in most of these.

Love the single slab backslash behind the stove – that seems so practical since without grout lines it would be quick and easy to wipe down! And of course I LOVE the floor to ceiling tiles too.


Wood cabinets/dark counters – the lines need to be sleek AND it must get good natural light. Dark countertops make cooking difficult if you don’t have a lot of light. Pretty much true for black cabinets too. The kitchen is a work room, really needs to be light and bright.


Love most of this (sink skirts! tile!) but a couple of things I’ve experienced firsthand and are crazy impractical. The range nook looks cool, but trend started in England/Europe where people stuck range into an old fireplace b/c venting, etc. already there, so makes sense when you’re saving $ / using preexisting architectural features. But there just is not enough space around the range to set stuff/work. Also big waste of space on either side with the surround. I’ve worked in kitchen like that and it was SO annoying. Agree that ‘no backsplash’ around counter perimeter looks cool, but is so hard to do effectively! I just finished a reno where I wanted that, but because walls not precisely plumb (older house) there’s just a lot of obvious unevenness in the back of the stone. Maybe in a new build you can get away with this, but – houses settle, and backsplash provides a little cover. Not to mention, if you cook you know how vulnerable that first 4″ of wall is to mess – so nice to wipe down stone / tile vs painted wall. And the shelf over the range! I had one of these in my kitchen… Read more »

that is GREAT insight. After seeing Jess’ range cubby ideas I pinned then for our next home thinking ‘yes, range cubby – why didn’t i think of that!’ but I did wonder if the wasted space would be unfortunate. Good to know beforehand. thank you 🙂


I currently have a massive old fireplace (huge width), but the height is lowish, so cooking ‘in there’ is a challenge… so the new stove (which I don’t love, but need to make work in my situation) isn’t in there at the moment. But, when I do my revamp, I’m going to give it a try in there with a new lighting system. It makes the kitchen seem bigger and more finished with the stove and pot rack in there.
If you do build one (country charm), make sure it’s full height.
Mine has a steel lintle which is beyond my budget to have removed.


Yessssss – where do they put their cooling racks? Their ingredients?


I like most of these trends. Like the dark countertops with wood. Also the mid-rise slab backsplash. Floor to ceiling tiles is a bit much for me but pretty nonetheless. Don’t like the skirt thing – just doesn’t seem very hygienic at all. And I agree with the previous poster about shelves above the range – may not be a problem for others but I do a lot of stir frying and if I had a ledge like that above my stove, it is going to be so greasy so fast. One more thing to clean.


I love all of these ideas. Since we moved out of the city and to a big house upstate, I’ve been re-thinking our Kartell ghost counter stools. They worked really well in our condo (I think they’re great for small spaces) but now with our expansive kitchen, I’m reflecting on swapping them out for something that has warmth. I noticed in most all of the photos, lucite is no where to be seen!

just get a stool with a back 🙂 I agree with some of the above commenters that stools without backs have a time and place, but for long term hanging out (especially if they aren’t upholstered) its a bummer. I also think in a way ghost chairs are classic and iconic. they might not work everywhere but Its like a bertoiia chair – it has its place in design history and fun to mix with other eras.


This is not related to the post- I just joined the insider community and I’m loving browsing it so much! Wanted to put in a plug on here if anyone else is considering it! The group on there is so nice.


I wanna… I wanna… I wanna!!!


It’s the strangest thing, because I’m nowhere near old enough for it to actually be a part of my memory, but the checkered tile and sink skirts give me the most horrible grandma-slaving-away-in-her-1930s-kitchen-while-no-one-helps-her vibes. (Although I really like the last image with the skirt, so maybe it’s when you put too many of those aggressively vintage elements together at once?)

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I like the diamond floors, however! (Isn’t it wild how 45 degrees can totally change your perception of something?)


The 1930s house I grew up in had checkered floors and for that reason I actually love them. They do feel nostalgic/vintage, whether that has positive or negative associations is of course subjective. I live in a 1920s house with a horrible 70s kitchen right now and have been thinking about how to update it in a way that is consistent with the home’s age but still updated, and checkered or diamond floors are top of my list of ideas. I do prefer diamond to check though I think.


Is anyone else thinking of the checkerboard floors that Sara just ripped out? I was thinking of them throughout the post and then when I saw actual RED checkerboard floors, I could not believe it. Sara, you just should have waited 6 more months and you would have been HIP! I’m joking of course. Getting rid of those floors was the right call. I’m all for colorful and wacky but I think it should go on as paint or art or throw pillows or even maybe one upholstered chair but not something so major as the floors.


I am planning a facelift for my kitchen, and I am very drawn to an idea of getting rid of upper cabinets and just having a shelf. I have irrational hatred of upper cabinet because only the lower shelf is easy to use while they take so much of the space.
Also want to do a wood cubby (dyi?), I have a strange dark hole nook that could benefit from.
I am struggling a bit with picking the cabinet color – I am drawn to greens, but I feel like it is everywhere…


I have a green kitchen, and I can tell you while it is popular in the design world / blogs, in the real world? Not so much! How many people do you know with green cabinetry? When I was shopping for countertop stone every showroom lost their minds when they saw my green paint sample. They all told me they occasionally got a navy blue paint sample in the place, but 98% white. 1%? Dark wood. The vast majority had never seen someone come in to match countertops to green cabinets EVER. White kitchens are still super heavily touted by most real estate agents for resale, and I think that has a huge impact on what people do in real life. Of course, the point isn’t to do a green kitchen – it’s to do what you want! Especially if you’re in a ‘forever home’ and not doing a flip. And if you’re actually worried about stuff being common – do whatever you want but white!


Also, my cabinet maker (who does 50+ projects/yr) had never done a green kitchen. I’m in the northeast, so maybe it’s different elsewhere, but here – white reigns supreme.

i love the idea of white on top (if you have uppers) and sage green on the bottom with dark counters! or none on top if you don’t need the storage.


I’m doing white uppers with green lowers, shaker, with charcoal counters, wood floors. I ordered several green swatches from Samplize before settling on BM Highpark – looks just right with my lighting, etc.


We put in a kitchen 7 years ago with blue-gray lowers and white uppers. Because I read so many design mags and blogs, I’m sure I was picking up on a trend, but now a lot folks in my area (NYC metro) are putting in blue-gray cabinets! So I wonder if green will happen more broadly, but just a few years after the design folks use use it.


Could be! In a way I hope green catches on beyond us design nerds, because then it means it will be easier to sell my house down the line … 😉


Glass enclosures are fantastic! Very French, at least I’ve seen them in many Parisian apartments.
Great compromise between open and separate.

We’re just finishing our kitchen renovation and used a couple of these in various iterations! We did the “single slab” behind the range, but we cut it into a shape similar to the sink backsplash in the last “curtain” picture. We’re also doing painted checkboard wood floors in our bathroom remodel (starting soon!).

One thing I don’t understand – the fluted cabinets in the kitchen. They’re beautiful, for sure, but I just can’t imagine trying to keep those clean! Seems so impractical.


I think about the fluted thing EVERY time! Also when I see 3-D wall treatments or tiles – I struggle enough with keeping dust off my door and window trim. I cant imagine swiffering my wall or cabinets.


Hi! For the “DARK STONE COUNTERTOPS WITH MEDIUM WOOD TONED CABINETS” what kind of dark stones are these/what’s popular?

i believe soapstone is the big one for those dark counters right now. but if you already have granite from an early 2000s remodel (like we do) that works too!


Hello! It’s probably soapstone, more durable than marble and easy to keep.


It is soapstone. I had it in an old kitchen and while it is gorgeous it is a BEAST to keep up. Pluses are that it is completely resilient to heat, but minuses are that to get it to be black rather than a mottled gray you have to regularly oil it (oil causes chemical reaction that turns it black and once residue is gone, most stones much lighter/gray). Some slabs are more black than others, but those are also far more expensive than the grayer stones that require oil. Also, the stone chips easily. Some people like this because it ages and it can also be sanded to make smaller chips more invisible. However, in my personal experience all you need is one careless mother-in-law heaving one giant pot around and you’ve got a giant gouge on a corner that is super obvious … 🙁


I love the skirt trend as long as it’s easy to remove the skirt to wash it. I actually made a skirt for a long upper shelf in my pantry to hide clutter from small appliances, and since it’s a narrow room, it’s so much more practical than regular doors. I used clips that slide easily like Studio Laloc and a table runner, which was cheap and added some much-needed texture & color to the space.

Roberta Davis

Some really pretty kitchens here! And some that I kinda hate.


Soooo, once my hpuse is MY house and I do my revamp on a shoestring, the kitchen is in the mix. I’ve wanted a simple, classic IKEA kitchen for yearrrrrs, but was told “N.o.” So, I have a kitchen that was oh-so-modern-new in … 1950! Whoo hoo! The thing isn’t that functional with all cupboards and two teeny drawers, but it’s what I’ll have because my budget doesn’t stretch that far as to do a reno in there. I’ve planned to paint my lower cupboards a green in low-sheen (they’re currently gloss white) and have too many greens to choose from.😏 I thiiiiink I’ll remove a coupla upper cupboard doors to imitate open shelves and maybe wallpaper the backs and sides for some visual te texture? I have some pretty, colourful dishes I’d love to see. So many good ideas in this bunch, Jess! Thank you! I dunno about painting the wooden floors though. Yep, looks nice, but practicality?? Questionable with dogs or kids. It’d look ratty in no time! Those tiles in the first pic are sparkle arkle, love ’em! I’m considering retiling (doing it myself!Aaaargggh!)the kitchen splashback in funky boho patterns OR using stick ons to see what… Read more »


Have you seen the solid glass backsplash? Seems to have endless possibilities. Etsy 614695758.
ALMAZ Studios for example. I first saw these in design ideas from the UK.


Have you seen the glass backsplashes? I first saw these in design ideas from the UK. Endless possibilities… for example… Etsy 614695758 ALMAZ Studios


Apologies for posting twice, but I was listening to news about the terrorists’ destruction at our Capitol.


Very very beautiful kitchens, but open shelves and glass cabinets look good if you are extremely tidy and like intensive cleaning. If not, better be able to close the door so that magically the kitchen looks clean and tidy. On bar stools, I prefer having dinig (almost) ready when guests arrive. For me it is very disturbing when everybody wants to help and is moving around. It makes me really anxious. Cooking a good meal takes time and I would not like either , as a guest, to arrive one hour and a half before dining to help the hosts cooking dinner. I prefer a table in the kitchen if there is enough space, and it is safer for children and more comfortable for not so young people (like me) I think that most people here are much younger than me (60), so maybe my view is outdated, but my kids (when we are not more than 4-5 people) also feel very relaxed in our kitchen table talking face to face, and the conversation flows very easily. It is much easier and faster to clean everything after dinner if you eat at the kitchen table. But if you have a… Read more »


Very interesting. I would add the beginning of a trend away from stainless steel appliances.


Interesting… We recently had to replace our gas stove/electric oven and I couldn’t find white in our budget.


Can someone please tell me what these sentences are supposed to say because I’ve read them a dozen times and feel like I’m going crazy:

“They also need to look built-in and contrast with the colors and materials it’s next. If you’ve don’t that then you are all set.”


Best guess: “They also need to look built-in, and contrast with the colors and materials they’re next to. If you’ve done that, then you are all set.”


THANK YOU! I had tried reading it so many times that I think my brain just broke but I needed to figure it out 😂 I appreciate it!


It’s funny seeing midtone cabinets and dark counters. Our 2000s kitchen remodel is almost hip now! :]

Kind of digging the hood cubby, if it can be cleaned easily.

same! just have to wait it out. trends always come back around!


I’m gearing up for a kitchen remodel, and I’m currently planning a range alcove, but with less thick dividers. I also love the diamond floors. I thought I’d do Forbo at one time, but I’d like to stick with wood, so I’m looking at a white stain to contrast with a natural or medium stain. I love the black and white tile, but hate standing on tile. I also plan to do soapstone counters. I’ve wavered on cabinets, white, reclaimed wood, ivory, or yellow. Always a shaker framed inset style. I have stuck with the same or very similar choices for 15 years. Originally, I was doing a new build, but that fell through, and we bought our current house, a 1912 Craftsman, almost 14 years ago. I’ve patiently awaited the impending remodel. I’m now nervous about starting during a pandemic. Keeping my fingers crossed that we can start this year.

Nicola O.

Lots of eye-candy! what a great post! I had a couple of knee jerk reactions though — enclosing the kitchen in glass? Yuck, what a cleaning nightmare AND if you leave the dishes or something everyone can still see it. Yet you’re still cut off from hearing what’s going on in the house with kids or guests (remember when we could have guests?) You say the best of all worlds, I think it’s the worst.

The other one I hated is the stove cubby. I would feel cramped and claustrophobic cooking at one of those, plus several of them had little or no counter space nearby. Form over function to the point of being unusable. These are designed by people who do not cook.

Sarah T

Would love a post about the various kitchen and bathroom sink skirt options for how to hang them. It’s so charming!


Yes! I’ve got a spot in a butler pantry in need of a skirt (we store dog food and other unsightly things down there), and am thinking maybe tension rod an a regular curtain hemmed in a lazy no-sew way? I would love to hear of any better ideas out there.


I have a skirt under my kitchen sink. I used an old tension rod and ordered a yard of fabric and used iron-on hem tape to do the edges. It was meant to be a temporary solution, but I’ve had it for a few years now, and I really like it. If I were doing a permanent thing, I’d probably want to buy a ready-made curtain or have something sewn so I could wash it easily. The only negative for me is that it can be a little difficult to slide the curtain on the tension rod, so small clips could be really useful.


The struggle of our backsplash is REAL!

We have espresso colored cabinets with sleek/modern handles and our countertop is a light granite but it does carry multiple tones including yellow, purple, and gray. The baseboards of the house are all white and the paint color is currently “ice cube” – essentially white with a hint of blue.

The goal is to have a timeless backsplash that won’t look dated in a few years and also tile underneath the island where feet are constantly kicking (and I’m constantly repainting). The only tiles I’ve found that I’ve liked are white subway tiles for underneath and a mirrored tile for behind the cabinet but my mom is making me rethink if they actually match.

Any tips/tricks for picking out a tile so it doesn’t end in a total **NEED TO REDO THE WHOLE THING**?


I like the idea of the mirrored tile backspalash. Seems like it would end up with a grayish tone that might be sort of neutral to tie in all the other colors. Plus I just like that look in a kitchen, especially the ones that are a little aged rather than a bright clear mirror. Makes me wonder if a similar grayish tone could work for underneath your island. I also do have to say it is REALLY difficult for me to picture all of that so I’m sort of shooting in the dark. But if you think the mirrored tile would look good behind the counters then I’m just trying to imagine a similar look/tone with more durability for under the island.

Also thanks for mentioning the island. I have a peninsula in my kitchen and the back that faces the family room is covered in beadboard. I’m sick of the beadboard and it badly needs to be painted too. But I LOVE the idea of covering it with my off-white kitchen subway tile. Thanks for a GREAT idea! I’ve disliked that beadboard since I moved in 10 yrs ago!!!


I love this post and have a question about the last kitchen featured that is unrelated to the main design concepts of the post, but I’m begging for some guidance on this. I have unfortunately found myself in a predicament where my fabricator destroyed my unique marble island (that was the centerpiece that all other colors were designed around) and need to pick a new top. The perimeter countertops are pure white and the cabinets are Sherwin Williams Argos grey. I cannot find a new island that blends well with the perimeter design. I may have to go with plain white on the island and was looking for a way to add some excitement. I was hoping to put marble backsplash on the perimeter walls with the white quartz countertops, as I have seen this in some new featured kitchens online, including the last picture on this blog with the charcoal slate floor, white countertops, and marble backsplash. When I asked my designer about this option she said that she would never do that. Can anyone advise…is this too trendy? Does it show well in pictures and not in real life? Or should I go for it? I knew once… Read more »


I think that sounds beautiful. I am not sure if real marble would be too delicate, but I’ve certainly seen a lot of marble and marble looking porcelain backsplashes that are gorgeous. Sounds like a perfect solution to me.

I designed this kitchen and have done the quartz tops with a marble splash numerous times. It’s so practical in every way. Not only are you getting the best of both worlds; durability and aesthetically pleasing but the play of quartz tops is much friendlier to the pocket. Opt for a pure white quartz, none of this marble replication quartz. So long as the sourced marble splash lends itself to a white top I’d highly recommend this pairing.
Good luck!


The Wood Cubby Accent photo! All I see is a face when this model of fridge is used, the baskets on top literally made me laugh!
I love the dark counters and wood.


My California beach bungalow is from the 1940s and has a newer black and white tile diamond pattern in the kitchen. It is visually very striking but I actually hate it. It’s so hard to keep clean. Everything shows up on each of the colors. I wish I had hardwood in my kitchen instead, like the rest of the house. Only bonus is that it encourages me to sweep, vacuum, and mop the kitchen on a daily basis. 😉

was excited to see medium wood and dark countertops, as i’m just starting a reno in my (tiny NYC) kitchen and this is what i’m planning! With slab cabinets and a very MCM feel (cabinet inspo here: but my dark grey/black granite is fairly new and i like it and see no reason to replace it, and think it will go nicely with my mid-tone alder slab cabinets (and white hex zellige backsplash :))


My 1936 Spanish bungalow has its original “range cubby,” or as we call it, the stove nook. It’s tiled in the original tile of the era, and we found a wonderful tile company to duplicate it (with much effort) for the wall on the other side of the room and the backsplash. People generally gasp when they see pictures. 🙂


Love this post! Gorgeous kitchens. I think Emily has nailed some cutting edge trends–black countertops, checkered floors among them!

Has anyone else noticed a trend toward wood beams in ceilings–and even all natural wood ceilings with or without beams? I’m seeing beams everywhere!


Oh, and also, instead of “can” ceiling lights, small semi-flush lights.

This post delighted me – I e-mailed it to my friend and demanded she tell me what her top favorites and least favorites were and I pinned a lot of the images to my pinterest board. Great selection of imagery!


I don’t think any of todays trends will be as lasting as the original Mid Century Modern Architechure that flippers are taking out. I think it’s a damn shame and it should be rebuilt exactly as it was just with new materials and fixtures. Just my opinion.

Inês Seabra

Floor to ceiling tiles is the European standard, though it has been changing. Traditionally we don’t do backslash, we go all the way. And that’s both an habit and an obligation, because most countries kitchen codes (and bathrooms for that matter) require a waterproof and washable surface almost all the way up. Waterproof and washable paints are a relatively recent thing and still not allowed for that purpose in some places.

Kristy Smith

When we lived in Germany for two years our kitchen was tiny but one long wall was half height with sliding glass windows above – definitely felt bigger because of that. German kitchens always have a door on them for whatever reason so that’s how they open up the space.


“It’s 2020, the sky’s the limit!” insert sobbing emoji here. Well that didn’t age very well! LOL. Love that you linked to last years version of this. 😉


Nice round up!
I have had a major change of heart about checkerboard/diagonal checkerboard floors. I love them in a traditional, understated kitchen. Hate them in kitschy, diner-look kitchens. I love all the varieties of backsplashes too. I love the single shelf, though it takes a very large kitchen to pull it off. I’m actually doing upper cabinets again for the first time in years… so maybe the decline of the open shelf is happening now.


Yes to dark countertops!!!


Thank you for this. I always look forward to this series every year. I wish there were more of them throughout the year also.

Kristine C.

These must be “just for show” kitchens and not actual kitchens people cook in because where are all the lights??? Is another new trend to cook in darkness? lol So many of these photos show absolutely no overhead lighting above the work areas, including the sink and stove, and very little lighting in general overall. Unless I’m missing something, lack of proper lighting is so impractical and makes the kitchen non-functional.


Question on the 1 shelf trend at the end of the article- how do you mount that piece of marble to be a shelf? It doesn’t look like the marble it is sitting
On would hold it up.. would love to do that look but can’t figure out how to do it. Hidden brackets?


I obviously don’t know for sure how they made it work in the kitchens above, but I imagine that the edge of the stone slab facing the wall has holes bore into it to slide onto a bracket crafted of steel rods welded to a steel plate (if that makes sense). Same design as some wooden floating shelving.

Ana ALves

I have to admit I hated most of the trends in this post, I read it because we are planning on renovating our kitchen this year, but I really didn’t find it very helpful. I do love your website and will use it for inspiration for our new kitchen.

Jennifer Hunt

My husband built that kitchen/house in the first picture you have listed under
It gets a ton of light in the kitchen as the house is right on the ocean in Santa Cruz, Ca.
For those wondering, The countertops are soapstone and the wood is All reclaimed Monterey Cypress.

Karin B Gately

So happy to see that our renovated kitchen (10 years ago – that I designed myself and my husband built) has MANY of the items you’ve called out here! I feel like I’m a trend-setter! Loved this post.

Maggie Hayhurst

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. Here in the UK (writing from Liverpool) we tend to call a range cubby an ‘over mantle’. I agree if you’re short on counter space cupboards that come right down to the surface could be restrictive but there are plenty of designs that use wall cupboards or just bracket structures. Our kitchen reno won’t be for a couple of years but I’d love pale sage units & scaffolding plank open shelves. Thank you for the lovely inspiring photos. Maggie x

Absolutely love your blogs. You are so perceptive of the trends and I love that you put forward multiple examples. It’s so helpful.

We’ve been very creative this year. Please take a look at our designers house kitchen featuring backless Glass wall cupboards and a Lino and ply project where we painted a nature inspired mural backdrop all in pistachio and blush pink.

Brilliant piece can’t wait to see how covid has brought creativity to the for. I wonder what next years forecast will look like

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