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2012 Kitchen design trends

Melissa Dunlap is a writer, editor and blogger specializing in lifestyle communications. Fueled by curiosity, and a tad too much coffee, Melissa enjoys dissecting current trends for the modern woman. When she's not having dance parties w...

5 Emerging kitchen design ideas

Thinking about giving your kitchen an update this year? See what the experts say are the up-and-coming kitchen design trends for 2012.

Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Kitchens are often the most popular gathering spot in the house. While full kitchen renovations only need to be done every 15 to 20 years, occasionally updating the space with current trends keeps kitchens modern and fresh. Check out these five kitchen design trends.

Goodbye cherry wood

For the first time in several years, we are seeing a decline in the use of cherrywood cabinets as the go-to finish in kitchen design. “Bye-bye, cherry—time for light and bright,” says Kerrie Kelly, owner of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in northern California. "Color palettes are moving away from dark and paneled to light to medium with regard to finishes and veneers,” she notes. Designers are seeing an interest again in oak cabinetry, as well as in lesser-used woods like walnut and birch. Eco-friendly bamboo is also gaining popularity as “green design” continues to become an industry standard.

Kelly also tells us that cabinetry details are "being simplified and streamlined, materials are getting pared-down and colors are lighter and brighter.” White is still a popular option for painted cabinetry.

Mixing finishes

Celebrity designer David Bromstad recently declared that “a collected, eclectic look is the No. 1 rage in design right now,” and we are seeing this trend translate to a mixing of finishes in kitchen design.

The team at Kerrie Kelly Design Lab suggests combining unexpected materials and finishes while still creating a classic look. “We may use the austere palette of high-gloss white cabinets, stainless-steel appliances, and a new ‘leather finish’ black countertop with a modern natural wood island or eating area” Kelly tells us. “The combination is warm and welcoming rather than sleek and impersonal.”

Stainless steel continues to be a popular kitchen finish, but there is a renewed interest in polished chrome as well. Homeowners are also choosing to combine finished wood surfaces on cabinets with painted kitchen islands. Mixing finishes is a great way to slowly update a kitchen design without a full renovation.

Olga Adler Interiors

Unique backsplashes

If you opened a decorating magazine in the past few years, chances are you saw white subway tiles as the backsplash of choice. Now there is an increased interest in other, more exotic backsplash finishes. Olga Adler, president and principal designer of Olga Adler Interiors, explains that “porcelain and ceramic tile are being replaced by glass and other even more unusual backsplash choices, such as stainless steel and even brick, as homeowners get bolder in expressing themselves in their kitchen designs.” Adler says that a decorative backsplash allows homeowners to show their personality and is less risky than painting cabinets a bold color.

New neutrals

Whites and off-whites continue to be the most popular color schemes for kitchens overall, but using shades of gray has increased dramatically over the last three years, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). Gray color schemes allow for a calm, neutral background where other pops of accent colors and finishes can shine.

Another trend in design is using the color green as a neutral. NKBA reports that using green has been on the rise as a kitchen color trend for the past two years.

Pops of color and patterns

With Tangerine Tango the 2012 color of the year, unexpected pops of color are being incorporated into otherwise muted color schemes. Kitchens are getting energized with playful citrus-hued appliances and accessories, an easy decorating trend to incorporate.

With wallpaper making a comeback in design, we’re sure to see them pop up in kitchens soon. While wallpaper as a kitchen backsplash or in high humidity areas isn’t recommended, wallpaper can introduce playful patterns or colors in adjoining eat-in areas or accent walls. Sarah Cole, director for the British paint and wallpaper company Farrow & Ball, says that “wallpaper can be used on central islands and inside cupboards to create a funky, fresh feel and liven up internal cupboard spaces.”

Tell us

What is your favorite 2012 kitchen design trend? Share in the comments below!

More decorating ideas

2012 Spring decor trends
5 Small but stylish decor updates with color
6 Kitchen design trends that will last

Photo credits: Kerrie Kelly Design Lab, Olga Adler Interiors
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