photo courtesy of ikea


This white AKURUM/ABSTRAKT kitchen by Ikea features not one but two islands, each dedicated to different functions. Metro’s Arresting Design columnists say this strategy can accommodate the many family members and guests who help out (and socialize) in today’s kitchens.

Kitchens are so important that we’re devoting several columns to them. Today we’ll outline new and exciting trends in the kitchen — and there are a lot of them!

The biggest change is in function. It remains true that the kitchen is the heart of a home, but consider that the nature of the household is changing. No longer does one person move efficiently between stove, fridge and sink to produce family meals — the whole family is involved.

In a similar way, entertaining does not mean that canapés are served to guests who sit in the living room, as was the custom in our parents’ time. Instead, guests sit around the kitchen, sipping wine and chatting with the cook or helping with food prep.

And the main hangout area in the room is, of course, around the kitchen island. In response, islands are becoming longer and wider. The newest look involves islands that are flat, although multi-level islands with both food prep and eating areas remain popular.

If you’re lucky enough to have a big space, consider several islands devoted to different functions — a cooking island, and a baking island, for instance. You could even go as far as a kitchen with a series of functional islands, rather than the usual line-the-walls approach. How cool!

Islands now appear more as separate pieces that look like elaborate cabinetry or freestanding pieces of furniture. Architectural details such as corner posts, insets, and open shelving add personality. In terms of colour, islands can be treated in an accent shade, either lighter or darker than the main colour.

Another trend that’s evident everywhere, but especially in the kitchen, is the move toward personalizing décor. Kitchen décor no longer has rules that must be followed. Usability and design must fit with the homeowner’s needs above all else. This means not only more freedom in colours, materials and designs, but storage customized to fit the owner’s needs. Makes a lot of sense, right?

As a result, we’re seeing less fussiness in finishes. Even traditional kitchens are showing fewer embellishments and detail to clutter up space — the trend continues to be toward simple lines and away from excessive or heavy ornamentation.

In kitchen cabinets, variety is the trend. Consider some of the exciting new exotic woods that are appearing in cabinets, such as zebra wood, African mahogany, and others. But don’t use the same finish throughout; think of interspersing glass front cabinets to add interest. Painted finishes are also gaining in popularity. Long cabinet runs tend to be boring, so kitchen designers are careful to mix up different heights and depths.

Under-the-counter appliances, such as fridge doors, dishwasher drawers, and warming ovens are increasingly popular, as are chef-style cooking equipment, including oversized ranges, steamers and barbecue grills. Along the same lines, integrated sinks, in which the sink and countertop are made of the same materials, or large, square professional-looking sinks, are also getting more popular.

Finally, a word to the wise: Function should always play a primary role in whether you choose to go with a trend or not. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t even go there!

Tammy Schnurr and Jeffrey Fisher are hosts of Arresting Design on W Network. Tammy is an interior decorator. Jeffrey designs home furnishings and bedding through his company Jeffrey Fisher Home.