Anyone looking at kitchen design in 2021 will see two specific themes at play. These themes present a difficult choice between rustic and warm or sleek and modern. At the center of the debate, there is the question of how a kitchen should be used. We may want to ensure that it is hygienic and efficient – a theme that might only increase as we move into next year. Or, some may want their kitchen to continue as an inviting, living space. A space that is both fun and picturesque. Whichever side you fall on, here are ten kitchen remodeling tips that can help you bring warmth or elegance to your design.

Hardware – Brass or Brushed Steel?

Brass hardware once fell into the faux-vintage style very popular in the 1980s. but it could look cheap and tacky, often down to designers trying to emulate opulence. But brass has made a comeback since late 2019. Makers of hardware have avoided the sheen of 80s brass and opted for its more natural, mellow hue. This has given brass fittings a more warm and inviting feel. If you are looking for something more minimalistic and functional, then you should consider brushed steel. As with many examples of the ‘sleek and modern’ in this list, brushed steel hardware draws its inspiration from functionality. It is brutalist, full of raw, natural drama, and reminiscent of a working kitchen.

Natural Textures

Naturalistic material extends to other areas of the kitchen. This has included unvarnished wood paneling and cupboard doors, book-matched marble tiling, and upcycled, unpainted storage crates. The subtle variations of each unique material draw the eye, and there is a sensory, tactile element to the variation as well. A mix of carefully chosen materials adds a sense of contrast if you are looking for depth in each element.

Muted and Dark Colors

As popular as white kitchens remain, many designers are choosing subtle shades for their upholstery and surfaces. This can range from a dramatic but rich hunter green or navy, earth tones such as chocolate or muted mustard. For those looking for a sense of coolness of the scale colors like oyster white and blue-green for their tiling or floor.

Contrast and Color Pops

With a delicate color scheme, be it with shades of white or a flourish of marine, you can make a memorable statement by offering a little bold color. This might be as simple as a careful selection of colored cookbooks or utensils in bold colors like fiesta red or lemon yellow. Others have praised the use of bold colors when it comes to window or door frames as a subtle, unobtrusive way to brighten up the kitchen.

Off-Set Shapes

A lot of the design trends over the past decade have drawn a lot from the Scandinavian obsession with geometry. Traditional kitchen designers have focused on color palettes and grand symmetry and ostentation. In contrast, modern design has focused on the joy of shape itself and how to play with simple shapes in unconventional ways. This might be an L-shaped kitchen island or a more ambitious angled breakfast bar, geometric, offset cabinetry for a futuristic feel.

Statement Hoods

These made an impact over the past couple of years but 2020 has seen some playful innovations when it comes to shape and material. Materials that have been popular have included steel, or even natural wood housing around the vents. A little natural shading works well – coal-black or pine if you want to complement a warm kitchen aesthetic. Shape-wise, there have been some bold ideas that have gone beyond the trapezium. One that has taken off is the cylindrical hood. Whilst the idea is not new to kitchen remodeling, it is an elegant addition to a sleek kitchen. They can also be easily mounted or realigned, and doubled up. The same is true of the Chandelier style extraction canopy, which both draws the eye with a flash of glamor and serves its function effortlessly.

Performance Counter Tops

In the theme of ‘sleek and functional’, the high-performance countertop has become a firm favorite in kitchen design. The counter is the central point of a kitchen and states the theme for the rest of the decor. If you are to have a cool, functional theme across the room, then a simple nano-glass top in white will resist stains and reflect light. High-performance need not always be cold. Though marble has divided opinion at times, it retains a consistent value in interior design. Picked carefully, a colored marble with a striking grain pattern can liven up and add richness to your color scheme. Some good examples of this include Swedish Green or even a salmon and rose Etowah.

Bold Backsplashes

You can also use marble if you are looking for a dynamic backsplash. A single slab can look magnificent if chosen carefully. If you want to produce a wonderfully dramatic contrast, couple your features with a pronounced grain marble backsplash. Examples of marble where this can work effectively, are Lilac Marble and Negro Marquina. Beyond marble, if you want an assuredly warm backsplash, you might choose terracotta tiling. The rustic Mediterranean style has waned in recent years. But terracotta can be used to fit in with modern farmhouse aesthetics if paired with warm-toned cupboards and upholstery. This can also fit in with the Scandi Hygge aesthetic as well.

Pronounced Lighting Features

Light fittings in kitchens need not be hidden or tucked away anymore. Designers have harnessed a wonderful surge of creativity over the past year when it comes to how lighting fixtures are presented. In 2020, designers have embraced vintage-style brass light fittings, extraordinary overhead lighting rails, or pendant lights with decadent encasements. This extends to lamps as well as overhead lighting. The designer lamp is no longer relegated to the lounge but has now made its way to the breakfast bar and the counter-top. It brings an added layer of warmth and charm to a kitchen and claims it is a ‘lived-in’ space. A space where, after the cooking is done, you can relax with a coffee and a cookbook as the evening sets in.

French Provincial Furniture

The idea of a ‘lived-in’ kitchen may not appeal to those who admire simplicity and functionality. But for those who want to bring a palatial accent to their space, it is worth investing in some character furniture. Luckily a lot can be bought secondhand and reupholstered with very little fuss. Some examples, such as weathered kitchen benches or mismatching kitchen table chairs give an impression that is at once classy and rustic. If you are looking to keep some formality to your kitchen, the key is uniformity. You may find examples of Chateau furniture sets that can be painted and reupholstered to match your surfaces and fittings. Lighter colors here, especially shades of white will give you that classic Hamptons feel. This can extend to pantry shelving as well as breakfast bar stools or kitchen table seating.