Lighting in layers, work zones among Top 5 emerging kitchen trends


By Neil Wertheimer, editor-in-chief

fresh HOME (

Of all the rooms under your roof, the kitchen is the one that is constantly undergoing major trend changes. One year granite countertops are all the rage, then the next year, concrete; one year linoleum tile makes a comeback, then the following it’s all about wood. What’s a homeowner to do? Read on, for the trends that make the most sense, and that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to follow.

1. Mixed lighting. Once, kitchen lights were limited to a single overhead fixture. Today, kitchen designers add lighting in layers: recessed ceiling lights for ambient brightness; spots or pendants that light a specific work space; and accent lighting to provide mood. Adding new lighting is easier than you think: undercounter fixtures are easy to install, as are some track lighting systems. Particularly hot now are LED lights, which are incredibly energy efficient but still bright.

2. Eco-friendly products. Cork flooring, bamboo cutting boards, low-VOC paints and recycled glass countertops have emerged as the most popular environmentally friendly choices for kitchen surface areas. To add instant “green” to your kitchen without making any large investment, get bamboo cutting boards, remember to pick up fresh flowers more often, go with organic cleaning supplies, shop at farmer’s markets and use fewer packaged foods in your cooking.

3. Eclectic designs. It used to be that a single material, color or architectural style dominated kitchen designs. Today, what’s most popular is eclecticism – the use of many different styles working together seamlessly. So change some of your drawer or cabinet handles, add a surprising light fixture, paint your cabinet doors and drawers alternating colors, and add surprising art elements to the walls. Make the kitchen personal, in other words.

4. Specialized work zones. Most cooks have a specialty, but rarely in the past did we create kitchens to accommodate it. The trend now is to add coffee bars, wine-storage and tasting nooks, pizza-making stations, or even baking centers, based on personal interests. You can do this without a major kitchen makeover by creating a work zone out of existing counterspace and shelving. For example, if you love coffee, cluster together an espresso maker, coffee storage bins, and coffee cup and mugs.

5. Salvaged materials. Vintage floorboards, decorative metal sheeting – the supply of old materials out there is endless. You don’t have to hire a salvage company to retrofit your space, though. Simply head to a flea market, and poke around for an old wooden cupboard, a baker’s rack, or a kitchen table. Adding vintage furniture will create a powerful design statement in your space.