Planning Your Kitchen – Part 2: What Cabinet Styles and Finish Colors Are Both Trending and Not “A Fad?”

As always, broad generalizations are necessary when writing a blog, so please understand our concessions to brevity. Also, our comments are focused on our local regional marketplace – the mid-Atlantic – rather than the national marketplace.

First, a review of what’s “hot” now, and then we’ll address the “fad” concern . . .

Current Styling

Bear in mind that because certain cabinet styles happen to be preferred now – as measured by cabinet manufacturers’ statistics – these styles may not be particularly appropriate for you and your home. Ideally, your cabinet choice is consistent with the architectural style of your home and your interior design preferences. Current cabinet styling may conflict with these design elements; if so, you can absolutely go against the flow with your selections.

Having said that, in wood doors, simple door styles predominate the marketplace in our region, such as Shaker and modified Shaker doors.  All of these doors have a flat or flush center panel within a frame, rather than a raised panel.  Modified Shaker doors are simple and linear in design like Shaker style but with an added layer of detail, such as a small bead or ogee profile on the inside edge of the door frame.  Some manufacturers allow multiple outside door edge choices, which can be used to create a variation of the pure Shaker look.

Full Overlay cabinetry dominates, and Full Access construction continues to gain prominence. Inset cabinetry always represents a portion of the market as it lends itself very well to certain architectural and design milieus.

As a subset of the overall market, urban markets have slightly different preferences. Simple wood door styles like above are popular but Slab doors are a consistent presence. Slab doors in Gloss Laminates/Acrylics and Textured Melamine are typical selections. Slab doors in exotic wood veneers – Bamboo, Wenge, etc. – currently have a smaller market share.

Colors That are Trending in Today’s Kitchens

If you have visited the Houzz or Pinterest sites, you’ll know that this is stating the obvious: For the past decade or more, Paint White has been the mainstay and it shows no sign of abating. For a fresh and clean look, you cannot go wrong with a new white kitchen.  And, if your kitchen area is on the small side, white definitely opens-up a space. One trend that is materializing: A slight move towards off-white or antique white colors.

Introducing bold or rich colors as accents is also popular, although care should be taken in where an accent color is used, and how much. Shades of Blue Paint as accent cabinetry is very 2020, as well as Green (or Gray Green). Shades of Gray Paint have been popular for several years and continue to be strong as accents. All of these accent colors can add warmth and cheer to a kitchen design that may be absent if the entire cabinet assembly is paint white.

Stained cabinetry represents a smaller percentage of the overall market (again, speaking of our Region).  Wood species of choice are Cherry, wonderfully warm Walnut, and Quarter Sawn Oak; Maple and Plain Sawn Oak are not highly used. When stain is chosen, medium-to-dark rich “Cherry finishes” are a staple.  Light stains – recall the popularity of Natural Maple in the 90’s and are currently out of favor.  Stained Island cabinetry as an accent in a Paint White kitchen brings a welcoming warmth and a touch of formality to the room.

In Urban styling, similar colors are strong choices. In the Gloss Laminates and Acrylics, Whites and pastel Grays are strong.  However, a completely opposite color range is popular too – very dark Grays and Black, sometimes with medium-to-darker wood stains on accent pieces.  And generally, more bold and striking color choices can be found in Urban styling preferences. A new trend in cabinet sheen is taking hold as well – Matte finishes on Acrylics.  This option is a great way to present a Paint look, with a Paint sheen, that will arguably sustain use-and-wear to a better extent than Paint on wood.

Textured Melamine finishes are very popular, and there is a very broad range of finish colors available. Neutral and warm colors in mid-to-darker finishes are favored. For a more contemporary feel that incorporates a wood grain appearance, finishes that resemble gray stained wood are available and they run the gamut from very light to quite dark in tone.

So, what choices will have design durability as opposed to being a fad?

Crystal ball gazing is never a sure thing, but here are our thoughts.  Shaker & modified Shaker are classic styles that are easily adaptable to changing interior design preferences as time goes by.  (By the way, Raised Panel doors that have simple detailing are adaptable as well.) This ability to flex with interior design changes likely cannot be said of very elaborate, heavily profiled doors.  Similarly, white paint finishes have always been a presence, have a lasting popularity, and are the most accommodating finish for a multitude of interior decorating finishes.  So, there is safe ground here all around!  Except . . .

Accent paint colors such as Blue, Gray and Green may call out “2020” as years go by depending upon the specific color chosen. There are classic blues, grays & greens on a paint fan that are recognizable as decorating anchors, so those shades may be safer. Alternatively, the more pastel shades of these colors may have reasonable staying power as they are more subtle colors and can be more interior design flexible. If you’re looking for a contrasting choice that has “long legs,” a rich Cherry or Walnut Island is certainly a best bet if it is consistent with your home decor.

Urban styling seems to be more flexible over time.  Still, for a more time-tested look, Painted Shaker is safe, as are the warm wood tones available on Textured Melamine Slab doors. The popularity of High Gloss Laminates/Acrylics waxes and wanes; recent popularity is at least the second “wave” in the last 30 years or so. For a more adventuresome look with staying power, Black with warm wood accents is a good choice if done well.

Next up:

#3 in our Blog Series: Framed cabinetry or Full Access cabinetry – which is best for my new Kitchen?