Looking to refresh your kitchen for spring? Then take inspiration from the latest architectural and interior trends. From new furniture to the best decorative accessories, here I reveal what’s hot right now.
As the hub of every home, the ideal kitchen has evolved over the past decade to become more than just a practical, cooking space. The most aspirational model many of us lust after is of course the open-plan kitchen-diner. This blueprint is able to incorporate the differing needs of a modern family with the latest kitchen designs fitting in with the way we live now.
Giving a warmth and individual style to the kitchen is the return to furniture-style cabinets. Mix-and-match dressers, stand-alone units and showpiece islands are among the new wave of designs gaining popularity.
Tom Hinton, owner of Cambridge-based Tomas Kitchen Living (0800 772 0640; www.tomas-kitchen-living.co.uk), agrees that the ‘unfitted’ look is currently on trend: “Tomas kitchens have always had a sense of ‘furniture’ about them, particularly the Modbox Creations. These can be incorporated into the fitted element of the kitchen or used as free-standing pieces. The Tomas solid oak drawers (and when requested solid oak carcasses) can add to the overall sense of ‘furniture’ and bring a timeless quality to a kitchen,” he says.
Advising on how to make the look a practical one, Tom continues: “The unfitted feel can also be translated to wall elements – which look great when cut back and not crammed into every available corner. Having said that, it’s important not to lose sight of the functionality of your kitchen and you must ensure there is adequate storage space. For the ultimate kitchen, mix and match pieces with beautifully-designed, fully-fitted cabinetry. Wherever possible use built in appliances and minimize on the gaps and joints as much as possible. With the right design and the right products – you can have your cake and eat it!”
The Loft Kitchen by Wharfside’s Team 7 Kitchens (020 7253 3206; www.wharfisde.co.uk) offers a flexible approach to kitchen design with its range of stand-alone pieces. Wharfside’s kitchen expert David Golding comments: “Stand alone furniture gives you an option to change the layout of the kitchen as the needs of the family change. You can keep up with current trends by changing it around. You can even take the stand-alone pieces with you when you move house.”
The ‘looser’ approach to cabinetry is an indicator of how the kitchen has evolved to be more than just a practical space. Investing in showpiece furniture – such as larders and feature islands – celebrates how the kitchen is truly the heart of the home.
Having offered understated, premium-quality cabinetry from a Cambridgeshire workshop for more than thirty years Harvey Jones is a leading expert in kitchen design (0800 389 6938; www.harveyjones.com). Chris Mossop, designer at the company, gives his take:
“Investing in an island will play an essential part in creating a sociable hub for family and friends. When preparing food for a party, for instance, a centrally located island allows you to mingle with guests while you work. It can also be used as a breakfast bar so families can eat together in an informal and relaxed setting. Add in comfy bar stools and you’ll also be providing a space for kids to do their homework while grown-ups prepare meals. Consider the height and design of your bar stools, as flatter stools can be hidden under your kitchen island creating a streamlined kitchen space.”
Jennifer Shaw, design director at Cambridge’s Kitchenology (01284 724723; www.kitchenologyltd.co.uk) agrees: “The feature island is indeed very popular. Not only does it give a focal point to a kitchen but it is also very practical – giving an additional eating area, work space and storage. We find that the combination of handle-less units with quartz worktops is a popular choice.”
Let the light in
An airy, light-filled space feels modern, fresh and appealing. A seamless look is best achieved in open-plan designs (where smaller rooms have been knocked into one large living, eating and cooking space). There is also a growing preference for bi-fold doors to connect the house and garden, bringing the outside in.
Frances Hall, commercial director at Cambridgeshire-based David Hall Kitchen and Furniture Makers (01763 261010; www.davidhallfurniture.co.uk) has witnessed the trend: “For bespoke designers it is all about materials, simplicity of form, layering and contrast and at David Hall Kitchen and Furniture Makers, we are exploring a trend towards looser composition. We like to group elements together and build up layers with these groups to create junctions, spaces and detail. This gives depth and perspective, draws the eye and creates ‘moments’. In all our kitchens, we like to create these ‘moments’ where something unexpected or unique is allowed to happen. It may be a cantilevered bank, a contrasting finish or a feature such stained glass glazed windows in wall cabinets, which create focal points in the design.”
The trend towards open shelving is another element that can lift a kitchen. While they are practical and easy to use, open shelves also work to personalize a kitchen, making it feel warm and lived-in. Make sure you edit what’s on show so that clutter doesn’t build up, and remember that less is more. Combine open shelf cabinets with conventional ones so that you have enough room to hide away the less attractive necessities. Talking of which, minimal wall cabinets also help to lighten a space. Having less on a wall allows a room to breathe and gives focus to other areas – such as the windows – especially if they look out on a pretty view – or a piece of eye-catching art.
Jennifer Shaw, design director at Cambridge’s Kitchenology (01284 724723; www.kitchenologyltd.co.uk) reveals how to achieve the look: “One of the main requisites when planning a kitchen these days is for it to be light-filled and airy. White, streamlined kitchens, such as the glass-fronted AlnoStar Vetrina range, are really popular. They are sleek and unfussy and work even in smaller rooms to give the feeling of space. Adding in statement lights complete this look and can really add personality.”
Indeed, gone are the days when the humble spotlight was as adventurous as it got for kitchens. From David Hunt’s pastel-coloured metal pendants (01608 661 590; www.davidhunt-lighting.com) to contemporary chandeliers from Flos (www.flos.com), feature lighting has become a must-have in the modern kitchen.
Chris Jordan, managing director of London lighting experts Christopher Wray (020 7013 0187; www.christopherwray.com), comments: “Grand and decorative lighting, both classical and contemporary, not only provides illumination but can also be used to partition off areas within an open-plan space. Through the installation of statement pendant lighting, it can clearly define each space such as a kitchen or dining area. An intricate chandelier can become a jewel above a dining table, perfect for glorifying any expectant feast.”
Lighting is a unique way of letting your imagination run riot in the practical confines of a kitchen. Whether you choose from Dar Lighting’s Scroll Pendant (www.darlighting.co.uk) or the pretty glass drop shades at Fritz Fryer (01989 567416; www.fritzfryer.co.uk), the choice is endless.
Supplying a range of innovative lighting, Storm Furniture’s (01986 784439; www.storm-furniture.co.uk) founder Terry Croucher adds: “Statement lighting can add some interesting colour or texture to a room whilst also providing a great focal point. Designers and craftspeople will often be able to customise their designs for you, changing the scale, shape or colour to your requirements so you end up with a truly unique piece.”
Shift your focus to the walls of the kitchen and introduce decorative tiling and unusual wallpapers to bring an individuality and visual impact to your space. Bold statement papers, such as the ornate Palazzo range from Urbane Living (020 7138 3838; www.urbaneliving.co.uk) or kitchen-themed designs, such as English Dinner and Airfix Kitchen from Graduate Collection (0845 872 4919; www.graduatecollection.co.uk) can give an injection of interest to what is often seen as a functional room.
Sharon Forsyth, founder of Graduate Collection, a lifestyle company that works with new designers, says: “You can add real character to a kitchen with wallpaper – there‘s a wealth of designs out there with many new designers creating highly original and quirky wallpapers that will add a real touch of individuality. With the kitchen now part of the main living space in the house you can choose to blend it in with the rest of the room by papering throughout or make it stand out by choosing a wallpaper that highlights the area.”
Pick out small areas, such as around the range, behind shelving or in an alcove, with unusual tiling to add an element of surprise and to beautifully contrast against a simple colour scheme. The geometric Casbah and the black Guns & Roses tiles from The Stone and Ceramic Warehouse (020 8993 5545; www.sacw.co.uk) are bold and dramatic and ideal for smaller areas.
Fired Earth’s Cambridge showroom is a one stop-shop for unusual, premium tiles. Caroline Gow, tile category manager (01223 300 941; www.firedearth.com) lends her expertise: “As well as being a practical choice for kitchens, tiles offer endless potential to create show-stopping impact. For example, a dramatically veined marble such as Fired Earth’s Nantucket polished marble would be an eye-catching addition to a contemporary or traditional kitchen. Each tile will be unique, so the overall effect will be completely individual and particularly spectacular. Marble also has an undeniable sense of glamour and luxury, and yet it can be surprisingly affordable.
She continues: “For a very different, yet striking finish, opt for shaped tiles in a variety of colours, mixing them to create bold geometric effects that really make a statement. Fired Earth’s curved Arabesque tiles are ideal. They’re available in a versatile palette of seven colours which can be used in bold blocks or combined to make countless patterns. You could even use them across walls and floors to give your kitchen a seamless look.”
From ‘new’ metallics, such as copper. bronze and pewter, to woods, granite and marble – mixing rich, luxe textures is a sumptuous way of delivering a warm, earthy feel to your cooking zone. Tactile finishes – such as marble and granite – gives a raw elegance that feels very now.
Francis Lowman, managing director at luxury kitchen specialist By Design Kitchens in Cambridge (01223 248409; www.bydi.co.uk) comments: “By mixing up textures you can achieve a rich, luxe look. Metallics are big news right now. Gold, pewter and silver give a premium feel. Sometimes a pared-back kitchen – white gloss with minimal fuss – works really well with a mosaic or goemetic-patterned floor. It works to bring life to the room. Mix up woods, marble, granite and glittering tiles for a sophisticated modern-day kitchen.”
Meanwhile, Frances Hall, commercial director at Cambridgeshire-based David Hall Kitchen and Furniture Makers (01763 261010; www.davidhallfurniture.co.uk) identifies the modern taste for unusual finishes:
“The contemporary palette is now embracing finishes such as brass, which can be used to accentuate and complement other colours in the kitchen. We are seeing brass and copper light fittings, and have a beautiful range of bronze handles hand-made by Italian craftsmen. We are also designing our own range of bespoke brass handles that can be bronze or other metal plated in a wide range of colours, these create accents within the kitchen.
“Hand polished concrete is another stunningly beautiful finish,” he continues. “While faux suede is a luxurious material that can be used on the back of cabinets, such as those used for glasses. The softness introduces another texture into the kitchen and internal lights create soft pools of illumination.”
Offering the ultimate in finishes is the new custom mosaic service by Trend GB (www.trend-group.com), available at Granite Transformations (01223 84333; www.granitetransformations.co.uk). It’s a modern take on classic mosaic art and draws upon more than 300 colours of tiles so you can achieve your own bespoke design.
Peter Morrison at Granite Transformations Cambridge comments: “Employing advanced CAD software, Trend’s Italian studio is able to create a precise digital interpretation of any source design. The Italian tilemaker is marrying modern technology with an age-old decorative form, creating limitless opportunities for customised mosaics, from feature panels to complete interior and exterior installations.”
Tone and accents
With Pantone declaring ‘Marsala’– a deep, earth-wine red – its colour of 2015, it’s no surprise that a deep, rich palette is gaining momentum in the home. Reflecting catwalk trends, this marries with a tribal influence coming through in décor – think mustard accent walls, mosaic floors and splashes of dark red for a layered, rich look.
Coming to the fore is a move from the monochrome schemes popular of late to a shift towards bold Moroccan and African hues. If you’re not keen on opting for the permanency of coloured cabinets, instead simply update your kitchen with an accent wall or by adding in accessories, such as those available from Sainsbury’s homeware range (www.sainsburys.co.uk). Chunky wooden boards, woven baskets and geometric prints set against exposed brick, concrete surfaces and rustic colours will look thoroughly modern.
Sarah Wade-Gledhill, director at Cambridge Kitchens & Bathrooms (01223 213266; www.cambridgekitchens.co.uk) sums up the trend:
“Kitchens are the heart of every home and have increasingly become more of a living space over the past few years. We’ve seen more people wanting their kitchens to have a multi-functional aspect: from cooking and dining to lounging. At the moment, modern kitchens are warmed up by statement colours. Many people opt for islands in a different, bolder colour to the rest of the kitchen or splash-backs, in deep reds and mustards, for instance, against neutral–coloured cabinets. The glam factor is also important and can be added with glitzy lighting or shimmering tiles. One element like this is just enough for an elegant look.”