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2021 kitchen design trends to inspire your next remodel

Many 2021 kitchen design trends have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has altered how and where we spend our time. Many of us are likely to continue working from home and spending less time in public at least until late 2021, which is when experts predict an epidemiological end to the pandemic for the US. This is influencing how we design our homes, including our kitchens.

Homeowners are now showing a greater desire to invest in their homes, making them more comfortable to spend long periods of time in. What we use our homes for has changed, so the way we design these spaces is changing as well. Organizations such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association have observed these changing design inclinations in their predictions for 2021 kitchen design trends. Here are a few key trends.

COVID-19 influences on design from ‘NKBA Design Trends 2021’

1. Open layouts

An open-plan kitchen and living room is a popular design choice for modern homes, as 2021 kitchen design trends indicate. Here, barriers such as walls and doors are eliminated and distinct functional areas are integrated into a single shared space. It can happen either by reconfiguring an existing space and merging two rooms, or by designing a single space from scratch. Here’s how we executed this during a kitchen remodel in Washington, DC:

The goal is to create, after evaluating the pros and cons, a multi-functional space that meets your family’s needs. It’s going to be a room where people will relax, eat, and work – perhaps all at once. These ideas can help you make the space work better:

  • Try multi-functional or multi-purpose furniture, such as a bookshelf with a convertible desk or end tables that also serve as movable laptop stands.
  • Try to make the room feel dynamic and flexible with movable elements such as doors or walls that can transform the space as needed.
  • When it comes to creating these separate spaces, think beyond partitions – false ceilings, furniture, and carpet can be used to differentiate spaces as well so you can have a kitchen, dining room, relaxation area, and office nook all in the same room in a way that stays organized.
  • If you have a central column in the middle of your space, extend it into a small partition that can make the flow of the space more interesting while also serving as a storage space.
  • Use color or texture to create different zones within the space, which will suggest a change of purpose as you move through the room. This year, NKBA predicts the popular color choices to be restorative, earthy, and deep with a touch of brightness:

a) Blues and greens

Green kitchen cabinets
Green with envy by Bath + Kitchen.

b) Neutral tones

2021 kitchen design trends
White oak and off white cabinets by Bath + Kitchen

c) Dark tones that suggest resiliency

Dark kitchen by Nobilia, showcasing some of their new Environment and Design décor options that include 13 new handles and 7 niche decors.

d) Dependable greys / concrete looking cabinets & counters

Kitchen by Nobilia – RIVA 839, Concrete Terra grey reproduction

As you select your color palette, consider the mood you would like to create for you and your loved ones

2. Large islands

We expect to see more requests for large islands in 2021. Since people are trying to maximize the functionality of common areas of their homes, anything multipurpose that offers flexibility is going to be considered seriously. Islands can provide seating and storage as well as the option to incorporate some great features that serve cooks and diners alike, including:

  • Appliances such as microwaves or warming drawers
  • A sink for food prep
  • A cooktop and oven
  • A booth with a dining table
  • A display of beautiful crockery, perhaps a set you like to use for guests
kitchen design trends 2021
Large kitchen island, Bath + Kitchen Design in Washington, DC

You can also add a second island if you have the room. Just make sure the islands aren’t too close together, so it’s comfortable to move around and use the space. Too much space can also feel awkward and uncomfortable.

Tip: When building a kitchen island, think ahead to future appliances and features you might want to add, so that you can plan the plumbing and electrical work accordingly.

3. Appliances – emerging technology and aesthetics

Device charging, entertainment, and emergency power for essential appliances such as fridges are going to become more important in 2021. Many homeowners will prioritize building a smart kitchen with products that are more efficient, more precise, and safer. These are typically connected via IoT technology, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi.  Sometimes, they can be controlled by voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home assistant. For ideas, take a look at some picks by  This year, we are likely to see more people relying on technology in the kitchen in different ways, such as: 

  • Grocery ordering and inventory assistance
  • Monitors and alarms
  • Voice-activated digital assistants
  • Smart cooking devices
Paneled / hidden appliances specifically refrigerators and dishwashers as kitchen become more open to living rooms.

Aesthetically, stylish appliances such as French-door refrigerators will be popular.

4. Organic or natural materials

As people try to de-stress and find new ways to connect with nature, they are incorporating more organic materials and textures into their interiors. 2021 kitchen design trends tell us that we can expect to see more stone, marble, natural wood, and earth tones. Indoor plants and sustainable materials – including reused materials and bioplastics – are great choices, too. This helps bring nature and the outdoors into the home, which gives us a break from a world that runs on mass production and industrial growth that destroys nature.

2021 kitchen design trends
Marble countertops & backsplash, Bath + Kitchen Design NW Washington, DC

5. Cabinetry and other storage

Popular choices will be painted and wood grain, with a different color on the island. We saw this last year as well with the 2020 kitchen design trends. Also, more innovation can be expected here. All-white cabinetry is versatile and classic, but we might see a dip in its popularity this year. Designers can explore new ways to add contrast to an all-white kitchen, such as bright colored or even dark kitchen islands. Mixing finishes and adding pops of color can work well. For those looking to change their cabinetry altogether, a few options could be:
– neutral and natural tones that are soothing.
– greens and blues that can be uplifting.
– deep, dark jewel tones such as black, navy, emerald green, and plum for a dramatic feel and luxurious atmosphere. Modern homes in 2021 are likely to incorporate a lot of black and dark tones.

Cabinetry by Bellmont, a Bath+Kitchen favorite.

6. Clean kitchen styles

Research by NKBA shows that the top kitchen styles are likely to be contemporary, transitional, organic/natural, and minimalistic. This suggests that, on the whole, cleaner looks will be preferred to more ornate traditional styles.

Something to keep in mind is that “clean” doesn’t mean dull; it can be made creative and interesting when designed well.  As Plain & Fancy – a top-rated cabinetry manufacturer we work with – puts it, “modern kitchens don’t have to be sterile and without detail.” In the kitchen featured below, they use smooth natural wood grains, waterfall granite, and other unique details to create a kitchen they describe as “worthy of being called American Contemporary”.

Contemporary Cabinets by Plain & Fancy

Here, base and wall cabinetry use Plain & Fancy’s Milano door style with a North Cove finish, in full overlay. The islands use the same Milano door style in a different finish, Rockway Beach, in full overlay.

7. Modern-style countertops

  1. In line with the kitchen styles that will be popular, kitchen countertops will also take on a modern aesthetic. Solid surface countertops that are homogenous are an excellent choice for a clean look. Functionally, too, they make sense because they are non-porous. They also have certain other qualities that them a great option:
  • Antimicrobial – as we work harder to keep our kitchens cleaner and safer, these surfaces can help.
  • Much harder than multilayer countertop substances – sturdier countertops are essential for a kitchen that is going to be used often.
  • Resistant to dents, scratches, and other physical abrasions – this will help preserve their finish and clean look even after heavy usage.
  • Resistant to heat – this will keep your countertops looking new for longer.
  • Simple to maintain – with more family members venturing into the kitchen to expand their culinary skills, easy maintenance helps.

Quartz will remain a popular choice as well. If you’re not sure which way to go, this comparison by The Spruce may help:

8. Sinks

Smart faucets and innovative sinks are going to be important 2021 kitchen design trends, as people upgrade to more professional functions.  Designers believe that both stainless steel and white single bowl will be popular, and apron or workstation sinks will dominate.

Apron sink, expected to be popular in 2021

9. Flooring

Some popular choices this year will be hardwood, luxury vinyl plank, and tile (ceramic or porcelain).

2021 kitchen design trends
Luxury vinyl plank flooring as seen in this Arlington, VA kitchen by Bath + Kitchen

10. Lighting

Flexible and passive lighting controls are anticipated to be more popular than traditional switches. Under-cabinet lighting is expected to be prominent, as part of a sleek, contemporary look

Contemporary lighting in a Bath+Kitchen remodel in Logan Circle.

11. Windows

An important aspect of bringing the outdoors in is adding more natural light. Large windows and French doors help accomplish this. When designed well, they create a smooth transition from indoors to outdoors and a sense of openness.

Image by André François McKenzie

12. Integrated entertainment or outdoor kitchens

Building on the desire for more open space, indoor-outdoor kitchens and living areas are growing in popularity. With the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, industry pros report that the demand for building and enhancing these spaces is growing faster, together with new planning strategies and impressive new amenities. These spaces have helped many people reconnect with family, hobbies, and nature.

Privacy and ambiance are two important aspects of setting up an outdoor living space. Privacy screens and shade structures will be smart investments. We can also expect people to spend on premium lighting, fireplaces, comfortable furniture, and outdoor cooking appliances. Grills are growing more sophisticated, as are accompanying appliances such as warming drawers. Balancing comfort, convenience, and luxury will shape the 2021 kitchen design trends.

Patio transformed into outside kitchenette

Some practical features to consider adding:

  • Durable outdoor sink
  • Outdoor bar or a counter that can double up as a temporary bar
  • Task lighting
  • Ice maker
  • Bins for trash, recycling, and compost, so you don’t have to sort it out later.
  • Dishwasher, if you have the space for it and plan to cook outdoors often.

Permanent or portable? Fully-functional or simple? Consider your cooking style. Do you love grilled fish or a hamburger cooked over a charcoal barbecue? What about pizza cooked in an outdoor brick oven? Perhaps a tandoor or a smoker?

In short, think of how you will handle food prep, cooking/serving food, and accommodating guests.

On the whole, we believe kitchen remodels will focus on creating comfortable spaces based on people’s experience over the last year spending more time at home and realizing what matters to them. At Bath + Kitchen, our designers love helping our clients zero in on what they really want and like, so we can work together towards a clear vision. Learn about our consultation and design process and begin your journey to your perfect kitchen today!

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