Everything and the Kitchen Sink

Three hot trends that are cooking in kitchens now

Contemporary—With A Budget Bent

It’s no surprise this design aesthetic is in because it’s been popular for the last few years. But Rick Hoekstra, president of Kitchen Ideas Center, says contemporary looks now represent the majority of what people are doing in the kitchen in the last three to five years. Similar to cyclical fashion trends, Hoekstra says some surprising materials are en vogue right now that were popular in the past—albeit it in tweaked versions.

“We’ve seen a big resurgence in acrylic countertops like Corian. These countertops have a matte finish and are easily repaired. [Homeowners are] also using laminate countertops because of budget constraints. People are also getting sick of seeing granite, so they’re using manufactured quartz.”

Laminate counters were popular in the ’90s, says Hoekstra, but people are using different looks now than in the past, like sculptured laminates with textures, or a laminate counter with an aluminum-banded edge.

Another unconventional yet sleek contemporary look is cabinets with horizontal grain veneers, which Hoekstra says offers not only a polished finish but lots of choices.

“These were unheard of up until recently. We’re seeing these composite veneers that are compressed wood that’s basically printed with a wood finish. They’re very durable because the substrate underneath is a hard surface and if you put a softer wood on top, it’s actually stronger than the wood alone.”

Green Design

Andrea Jakubczak’s Eco Fusion Design focuses exclusively on greener home décor and furnishing options. Here she offers a quick rundown of what’s hot now:
Countertops: “It’s all about the concrete. It’s the number-one talked about
countertop in my showroom,” says Jakubczak. “It’s locally made, using locally sourced materials. You can choose from two hundred-plus colors and have different types of aggregate (pebbles), mirrored sand, recycled glass chips, et cetera.” She notes concrete used to be known for staining but the product she sells is stain-resistant and very low maintenance.
Appliances: Induction cooktops are very in. They heat up remarkably quickly as well as cool down faster, too. “The heat is specific to the bottom of the pan so you don’t lose any energy up the sides (therefore, you can’t burn a ring around the top of your sauces as the heat only comes from the bottom). Induction cooking utilizes ninety percent of the energy it produces compared to fifty percent used by other cooking methods.”
Flooring: Look for cork and rubber options, says Jakubczak. Both are great for cooks who stand for a long period of time because they’re softer, absorb sound and are warm during the winter. Although some might be concerned with the importing aspect of using cork, Jakubczak says, “With some surfaces, like bamboo and cork, I do believe the extra importing aspect is worth it. Bamboo can be harvested every five to seven years and regenerates from the original plant. Cork is peeled off the tree and grows back. Compare that to an oak/maple/ cherry tree and how long they take to grow.”

Glamorous Touches

Looking to spice things up? Follow fall fashion’s beat and splash on some color. Like a great accent piece, homeowners are kicking it up with thermofoil cabinets (vinyl wrapped around fiberboard) and acrylic cabinet doors in colors like orange, red and blue.

“I’m seeing brighter, stronger colors—like yellows and greens—things that catch a lot of light. I recently had a client do a pale purple color, too,” says Chuck Weidenbach, designer at Kitchen Ideas Center.

Or check out exposed stove vents that look like lighting: “Elica has some amazing hanging pendant hoods that look more like light fixtures than functioning appliances!” says Jakubczak.

Including personal touches in your décor is another way to add some sparkle, says Jakubczak. Look at backsplashes and hardware as the “jewelry” of the room. Tile backsplashes in recycled glass, aluminum and brass are all ways to finish off the backsplash with a custom touch, she says. “On the eco side, we have a fabulous Seattle company that does recycled glass hardware, hardware inlaid with cork and natural shell elements and hardware made from lead-free pewter and recycled aluminum.”

Or consider a different type of trim for the kitchen, says Weidenbach. “Most homes in Madison have oak or birch trim, so consider alternative trim materials. We’re seeing lighter and darker finishes in trim, too.”

Shayna Miller is associate and style editor of Madison Magazine.

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