The kitchen is undoubtedly the heart of our homes but these days we want our rooms to be as practical as they are stylish. From intelligent appliances to the latest ‘in’ colourway, the emerging new trends for 2014 mean we can have our cake and eat it.
Planning a new kitchen is one of our biggest investments – financially and emotionally. A well-thought out kitchen should address the changing needs of a modern family, which frequently means offering efficient cooking space, a dining area and somewhere that is effectively the hub of the home. Take a few tips from the latest trends emerging for this year, and you could create the perfect environment that will stand the test of time.
Over the past few years, kitchen style has become increasingly glossy and streamlined. But, for 2014, there is a more of a leaning towards a ‘warmed-up’ feel, with exposed bricks, reclaimed woods and natural elements being used to give a rough-hewn yet luxury feel to modern-day kitchens.
Jennifer Shaw, owner of kitchen specialist Kitchenology Ltd (01284 724723; www.kitchenologyltd.co.uk) has seen first-hand the increase in the ‘tasteful rustic’ look:
“Natural materials – especially woods – are making a comeback,” she reveals. “They give more of a homely feel compared to using super-slick finishes all in the same colour, which has been very popular up to late. I’ve noticed people are beginning to mix wood surfaces with their high gloss units. It makes for a warmer feel in the kitchen. Another trend are the new ceramic-fronted kitchens, such as the German AlnoStar Cera range, which we supply. It’s a new way of using a natural material and is proving really popular.”
Fired Earth Rhombus Floor
The growing penchant for concrete flooring, open shelving and stainless-steel units evokes an industrial feel – think New York warehouse apartment of the 1980s – but this time with an added luxe factor. The trend reflects our growing appetite for an eco-friendly environment and by using various finishes, perhaps mixed in with a few choice vintage accessories, you can achieve a wonderful ‘layered’ design and eclectic effect. It is the contrast that is the key factor to this look. By blending hardwearing flooring, characterful woods and a twinkling chandelier, for example, you can achieve an individual kitchen which is practical yet bang up-to-date.
At Nicholas Anthony, the Cambridge-based luxury kitchen designers (0800 0683 603; www.nicholas-anthony.co.uk), managing director Tony Nicholas agrees that authenticity and originality is key for 2014. “Clients want something different and unique to their house, but they also want a style which will not date,” he says. “Reclaimed woods, industrial surfaces and finishes that have character work well against super-tech appliances and you can easily make each kitchen bespoke. Nicholas Anthony prides itself on offering great-looking kitchens that fuse form and function.”
For those looking for a quick update, consider simply changing one element of your room for a dramatic effect. Revamp flooring, for instance, by choosing the new ‘worn’ finishes. Flooring experts Urbane Living (020 7138 38 38; www.urbaneliving.co.uk) has a wide selection of carefully sourced timber floorboards, such as the Worn Engineered Oak Flooring, which comes in wonderfully wide boards. Each board is crafted by hand and has a lightly distressed appearance, as if it has been naturally aged.
At Granite Transformations (01223 843333; www.granitetransformations.co.uk), meanwhile, you can reimagine your kitchen surfaces without the upheaval of tearing out the old, with its ‘top that fits on top’ philosophy. As well as its many granite options, it supplies a choice of characterful quartz agglomerate surfaces, made from a hard mineral rock that originates from sandstone, and which displays the natural features and tones of quartzite.
Perhaps fitting this trend most, though, are the striking rough-cut front edge worktops available at luxury kitchen designers Rencraft (01732 762682; www.rencraft.co.uk).“We are seeing lots of interest in creating a more stripped-back raw look,” says John Stephens, director of Rencraft. “This rustic look fits nicely with our rough-cut edge worktops, giving an industrial yet homely feel. They give a unique contrast to the smooth surface of cabinetry and can be complemented with simple brick splash backs and wire accessories.”
Gone are the days when chrome and stainless steel dominated our kitchens. Hardware, lighting and accessories in warm metals, such as copper, graphite and bronze, have made a triumphant comeback from their Victorian heyday.
“We have seen a big increase in customers asking for warmer metals in the kitchen this season,” continues John Stephens, director of Rencraft. “Brass and copper handles give a timeless finish and a classic feel and there are lots of choices available. This particular trend is great for those who don’t want to replace their whole kitchen but want to keep up-to-date.”
Award-winning interior designer Katharine Pooley (020 7548 3223; www.katharinepooley.com) is increasingly using copper in her designs, due to its flexibility and contemporary feel.
Katharine says: “There has been a strong return to copper due to the warm, natural yet stand-out quality that it provides in both traditional and contemporary settings. I love using it within projects due to its versatility as a material, it can be used a subtle accent for lighting and fittings within a kitchen or as a statement design feature. Due to the properties of the metal, copper takes on many guises with a variety of looks achievable, from its natural state to an array of colours available if the material is oxidised. Highly polished copper is a look suited to refined, contemporary schemes making it a hugely useable and on-trend material.”
Alexander and Pearl
For quick kitchen facelifts, simply update lighting by installing oversized pendants in artfully rusted or black metals, or search for 1940s-style bar stools and brass stand-alone kitchen racks and units. Vintage specialist Alexander & Pearl is the go-to place for one-off industrial style furniture (0208 508 0411; www.alexanderandpearl.co.uk).
Out There Interiors
Meanwhile, juxtaposed against contemporary kitchens, copper, brass and even gold taps suddenly look thoroughly modern again. Considered old-fashioned for many years, the burnished quality of antiqued gold and brass has a current appeal due to its warmth and heritage connotations. Add them into an all-white or black colour scheme and these metals can light up a room with their lustre and luminosity – almost like a piece of jewellery would.
“Clients are seeking a warm, welcoming feel in their kitchens but at the same time they want it to look sleek and contemporary,” says Tony Nicholas of Nicholas Anthony. “We’re noticing a return of brass, copper and graphite in fittings and fixtures. These give a wonderful sheen and warm colour to a space – pair them with uncluttered surfaces and handle-less cupboards from the Nicholas Anthony Signature Collection and you have a smart, seamless look.”
Talking of which, a seamless, streamlined kitchen is probably at the top of many of our wish-lists. After all, who wants to live with clutter? Clean lines, elegant spaces and sparkling appliances – all hidden of course – have an eternal appeal.
Buy into this sophisticated look by choosing handle-less cabinets in matt finishes and chunky doors. Think about selecting the same material to be used on your work-surfaces and then up the wall as splash-backs. This is pleasing to the eye – and great for smaller spaces – as it gives a sleek, neat finish.
Tony Jones, managing director at Langtry Fitted Furniture (01353 725380; www.langtryfurniture.co.uk) comments: “The minimalist approach is really popular at the moment. Most consumers these days are opting for handle-less cabinets and drawers. In fact, we offer ‘electric’ drawers and doors in our showroom, which just need a little push and they open as if by magic.”
Meanwhile, at luxury kitchen specialist By Design Kitchens in Cambridge (01223 248409; www.bydi.co.uk), Francis Lowman, managing director, has also noted an opting for sleek kitchens, but with a difference:
“In our showroom, we have a glossy New York Cashmere Grey kitchen by Symphony on display but we’ve juxtaposed it in a industrial-style setting – exposed brick walls, wooden flooring and steel light fittings. It is a real talking point – customers love the contrast between ultra-modern and authentic. Symphony’s Linear range is the perfect minimalist kitchen – it is handle-less and sits low and wide so it seems to blend into the walls and floor. To make it extra special, we always try and add in the wow-factor with one amazing piece of statement lighting, from a brand such as Flos. It’s like art for a kitchen and usually most effective over an island or dining table.”
For many years, neutrals have dominated kitchen design. Cream, white and beige have all been de rigeur but, slowly, tastefully coloured kitchens have become in vogue. French-style dove grey, smoky blues and aqua shades look light and fresh. It’s a softer look, compared to the sometimes sterile-looking whites and creams.
Fired Earth’s (01223 300941; www.firedearth.com) most recent range, the Vermont freestanding kitchen, is made from oak but is available in a choice of painted colours. Popular at the moment are shades of blue inspired by the coastal homes of the East Coast of USA. Using complimentary hues from the same colour palette, such as the brand’s Smoke Blue, Andaman Sea and Dover Cliffs, on different cupboards or zones of your kitchen, gives a layered effect that is perfectly of the moment.
At Kitchenology, meanwhile, it’s grey that is having a moment. “Greys are the modern-day new neutrals,” claims owner Jennifer Shaw. “It’s a very popular shade and the AlnoStar Dur is one of our bestsellers. But too much grey has a danger of becoming drab, so I’d advise choosing units or islands in contrasting shades of grey. It will add depth and character to your space and liven your room up. Matt surfaces contrasting with gloss are also a good idea to add some interest.”
Interior designer to London’s fashionable set Joanna Wood (0207 730 5064; www.joannawood.co.uk) agrees: “Grey has seen a resurgence of late, taking over from classic neutral shades such as magnolia and white,” she says. “The ability to coordinate grey with a spectrum of colours from turquoise to pastel blue has made it extremely popular in both traditional and contemporary kitchens. For example, within contemporary interiors dark grey can act as a striking accent colour against neon blue or green shades, creating a space, which is bright but not overwhelming. Contrastingly, light grey can be implemented to bring out the warmth of muted blue and terracotta hues in a more traditional scheme. Aside from aesthetical advantages, grey also has practical benefits. Try teaming it with silver or glass accessories as an alternative way of making a small room look more spacious.”
The advance of high tech
With technological advancements developing all the time, the race is on for brands to come up with the ultimate time-saving kitchen aids that will make our lives easier. Even Sir James Dyson has recently announcing he is investing £5m to invent a robot that will do our household chores for us.
Tony Jones, managing director of Langtry Fitted Furniture, agrees that the modern-day consumer wants the latest high-tech gadgets when planning their kitchen. He comments: “Nowadays, people are very careful to choose the correct appliances that suit their needs. The most major advance for kitchens of late is probably the ‘boiling tap’, which means you can do away with fussy kettles and not have to wait for them to boil.”
Francis Lowman, managing director of By Design, agrees: “The Quooker Fusion boiling water tap is the best on the market. It truly gives boiling water at 100 degrees, as well as hot and cold. People love the convenience factor.”
Other recent developments include multi-purpose ventilation hoods. Siemens, for example, has a ventilator that has an in-built microwave and also one with an LCD screen enabling home chefs to watch TV, DVDs or listen to music as they slave over the stove.
Other innovations readily available, in the US at least, include intelligent fridges, which come with advanced air filtration systems to keep food fresher for longer and in-built Google calendar screens on their doors. There are smart ovens that offer up recipe ideas and hobs, which vanish into recesses at a press of a switch. A beautifully designed kitchen is more clever than you think.
A version of this feature by me is in the current issue (April 14) of The Cambridge Edition.