When it comes to kitchen remodels, countertops and appliances often get the most attention. But considering your cabinets take up the most visual space in the room, their design deserves just as careful deliberation.
Beautiful cabinets can elevate your entire cooking space, while a poor design can date your kitchen back to the 1980s. For details on the latest kitchen cabinet trends, we spoke with three home design experts. Here are the top eight cabinet looks trending today.
1. Two-toned cabinets
The hottest kitchen cabinet trend today is the two-toned look. Choose two complementary colors for your cabinets and kitchen island, or for your upper cabinets and lower cabinets.
“Five years ago, everyone just wanted a second color on their island,” says Sarah Robertson, Founder and Principal of Studio Dearborn who has over 13 years of custom cabinetry design experience.
“Now people are being much braver if they want a two-toned kitchen. We will put color on the base cabinets in a dark blue like Van Deusen by Benjamin Moore, and then [paint] uppers in a very pale gray like Nimbus by Benjamin Moore, and it grounds the kitchen. It harkens back to the horizon, dark below and light above, so it feels soothing and organic.”
Randy O’Kane CKD, Senior Designer at Bilotta Kitchens with over 23 years of experience, notes that textures are also in the mix. “I’m seeing a lot of tall cabinets like the pantry and refrigerator being done in dark colors, wood, or texture, just like the island, and then a white or a contrasting color for the remaining cabinets,” she says. Some examples of cabinet textures include different wood grains, gloss and matte finishes, or having a mix of solid and paneled doors.
O’Kane adds that colored and textured cabinets add interest to a kitchen, especially with trendy, white quartz countertops. “Bring in color in some fashion whether it be in cabinets, countertops, backsplash, stools — there are a lot of ways to give your kitchen a pop of color,” she comments.
2. Mixed metal hardware
Whereas homeowners were afraid to mix hardware finishes in the past, mixing hardware is highly popular today.
Brass is back and in a big way, but we’re not talking about the shiny, polished brass of the ‘80s. Today’s iteration of the trend is a more subtle, brushed brass that pairs beautifully with matte black and brushed chrome finishes.
O’Kane shares that she pairs brass cabinet hardware with a pewter faucet in one client’s kitchen. You can also mix the finishes between your cabinet hardware and lighting fixtures.
3. Mix and match cabinet panel accents
“Very rarely or never are you seeing anything on Instagram where there is one cabinet style or solid doors all the way around,” says Robertson. “That is not interesting. The new mix is organic, and I find it really interesting.”
4. Fewer closed cabinets
Robertson says that she is also seeing fewer cabinets with more open shelving and alternative storage units.
“There is more open wall space, more open shelving, and bigger windows,” she says, adding that this look is all over social media and design publications.
However, before you go ripping out a third of your cabinets, consider your current storage needs — and your future buyer’s. According to our recent Top Agent Insights Report, 57% of buyers rank storage as one of the top three most desirable kitchen upgrades.
“The natural fallout of that is that people have fewer cabinets, so they need to be better designed,” says Robertson.
“People are leveraging every inch. The standard pullout trays aren’t the best anymore. You’re looking for specialized storage for baking sheets, slide-away waste cans for compost and recycling, dish drawers, and thoughtful storage.”
5. Panel-ready appliances
With panel-ready appliances, you can camouflage your refrigerator, dishwasher, and trash compactor with custom panels to match your cabinetry.
“Everyone is covering dishwashers and refrigerators, and I’m seeing a bit more people being creative when they cover the refrigerator with more of a free-standing cabinet look,” Robertson comments.
Just note that you’ll shell out a pretty penny for panel-ready appliances. Pricing for a built-in panel-ready refrigerator starts around $4,000 but can quickly reach $8,000 to $10,000. With installation costs, it’s not unusual to see prices go significantly higher.
6. Glossy and faux wood laminate cabinets
Laminate is the kitchen cabinet trend for a modern look. Homeowners also love this cabinet material since it’s easy to wipe clean.
Laminate is a surface material made from paper and resin pressed together under heat. There is low and high-pressure laminate, and although the low-pressure is more cost-effective, the high-pressure laminate stands up to more wear and tear.
“People are moving away from transitional and traditional more and more, and they want more contemporary, clean lines,” says O’Kane. “More laminate is being used, and there are a lot of Italian laminates that offer several options, so it looks more and more like wood if that’s the style you’re going for.”
Laminate comes in a wide variety of colors and textures, including matte, fingerprint-resistant finish, faux wood, paneled, and high-gloss. Amy Rio, a top agent and Certified Renovation Real Estate Specialist in Glastonbury, Connecticut, echoes homeowners’ preference for sleek, low-maintenance cabinets, suggesting a shaker style for those who don’t want the laminate look. Shaker cabinets feature a flat center panel with square edges.
7. Accent LED cabinet lights
For a truly custom look, add LED accent light to your cabinets.
“We’re doing motion detector lights and touch lights instead of using switches — lights in drawers when you open them, under the cabinets, and inside the cabinets,” says O’Kane. “There are even cabinet manufacturers who have partnered with lighting companies, so the lights come built-in.”
LED lights save energy and lower your energy bills — residential LED lights, especially those with ENERGY STAR rating, use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.
8. Barn doors of all kinds
Barn doors have been trending for cabinets for a while now; however, O’Kane shares that barn doors with glass and frosted glass are the latest twist on this Fixer Upper-inspired look.
She adds that the hardware on the barn doors is also getting an update. Whereas a traditional barn door typically had black or oil bronzed hardware, today’s iteration of the trend features stainless steel or gold finishes for a lighter and more contemporary aesthetic.
Consider your long-term plans when choosing a kitchen cabinet trend
When determining which trends are the right ones for you, consider the following:
White is a safe bet for a timeless look
If you’re looking to sell your home soon, white kitchens are still very popular and sellable. If you’re not looking to sell your home anytime soon, you can afford to take more of a design risk.
“A painted white kitchen is always going to be popular,” O’Kane advises. “If the homeowners tell me they’re going to sell their house, I suggest white because they are always going to appeal to a lot of people.”
Maintenance matters as much as style
When choosing a kitchen cabinet trend, consider how each style’s maintenance durability works for your lifestyle. For example, while laminate is easy to clean, it shows chips and scratches more than wood cabinets. Dark-colored cabinets are on trend; however, they also show scuffs more than lighter colors.
Sleek cabinets are in, but ultimately go with what you love
For staying power, our experts recommend simple cabinets featuring clean lines, whether they be a shaker style or glossy laminate. However, at the end of the day, it’s important to go with a cabinet style that suits your personal taste — especially if you plan to live in your home for the foreseeable future.
Header Image Source: (Tim Lee / Bilotta)