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Autumn 2021 Trends for Kitchens

13th September 2021

Welcome to the autumn edition of our design trends overview for kitchens: a carefully curated selection of some of the key colours, styles, materials – and oddities – for this season. 

A colour that has not appeared before in any of our recent trend issues is now making a strong appearance – and it is terracotta.  This can be quite a difficult colour to get right – certainly if you want to avoid the room looking like a Spanish restaurant from a few decades ago – but with the right shade and accompanied by contrast colours, it can create a powerful sense of comfort, sanctuary, warmth and welcome.  All of which are ideal at this time of year in a kitchen, and in fact throughout the year.  Try pairing terracotta with dusky pinks or cerulean blues to bring it right up to the moment.

Rustic styles which never disappear seem to be featured more than ever.  An interesting idea for flooring in this type of room design is to use bricks on the floor, which are not only extremely durable but which if laid in a herringbone pattern link into another design focus of the moment.

Previously the interest in fabric skirts used instead of doors beneath a sink, for example,  was floated by just a few designers.  This now really seems to have gained a firm foothold and fabric skirts are appearing everywhere.  Apparently, they are particularly embraced by city dwellers as an easy way to convert an unsightly area and turn it into a stylish storage area – with more than a hint of nostalgia.  To make fabric skirts work, the material needs to be sufficiently heavy to hang/pleat well – and of course washable.

Taps are real design statements, and have been for some time.  Not only in terms of how they look but the range of ‘water options’ they supply.  The latest arrival is extendable pot filler taps – which are sited above a cooker or hob and do exactly what the name suggests – they can be used to fill in-situ saucepans.   A very neat idea.

Tiles continue their onward march with large glazed tile splashbacks – their glossiness reflecting the light – taking centre stage.    And if the tiles can be laid in an interesting pattern – such as herringbone or other – so much the better.

Actually, if you start to think about statement pieces in a kitchen, there are others vying for attention.  Metal cooker hoods – which look like works of art – are favoured by some designers, whilst others are hiding them away altogether as part of the hob.

Maybe as autumn and winter approach, the importance of lighting increases.  Layered lighting in large open-plan kitchens/living areas can work beautifully.  Rather than simply opting for downlights everywhere (which can, of course, make some rooms look like airport runways), the layered approach utilises different lighting designs to accentuate the varied roles within each part of the room.  Task lighting is thus combined with lights for reading, socialising, eating or working from home.

In the search to grab as much light as possible, glass partitions are being used to break up large open-plan spaces, whilst glazing is also proving popular to ensure that a row of built-in cupboards don’t look too solid.  Bringing in some glazed doors to replace solid ones together with open shelves creates a far less heavy and more welcoming environment, and the ideal place to display treasured items or collectibles.

Freestanding furniture, combined with some fitted pieces, has been popular for a long time – as a way of personalising a kitchen.  For those who want a flexible space, a freestanding butcher’s block on wheels, for example, can provide an interesting alternative to the very fixed nature of an island.

Mixing different textures – gloss and matt, natural and man-made etc – is a key trend for this autumn.  In the kitchen, there is a huge array of materials to experiment with, including chrome, wood, laminates and recycled cork, the latter appealing to those looking for more sustainable alternatives.  Slatted and grooved cabinetry can also be used on, for example, dark walnut doors – to bring more texture and interest to the surface.

No look at kitchen trends can fail to include something about storage – which can make or break small and large kitchens alike.  Perhaps there is nowhere else in the house where the right storage, in the right place, is as crucial.  Pantries, not surprisingly, remain ever-more popular, with the aim being that every single surface of the pantry provides some sort of storage, even if it is for the tiniest jar or carton.  Utilising the full height of a room allows the installation of floor-to ceiling cupboards with a sliding ladder (or similar) to gain access.  But given that one hand at least will have to hold onto the ladder, the placement of items in these cupboards will have to be carefully thought through – otherwise they will remain un-used up at ceiling height for a very long time!

For ease of access, hanging racks above islands can be used for everyday items (much as can be seen in professional chefs’ kitchens), whilst wooden peg boards are inexpensive and can provide very useful storage, as well as bringing in that much-loved rustic charm.