Dallas Top Designers Dish on 2016 Kitchen Trends, From Lacquer Paint to LED Lights

Barbara Gilbert Interiors. Photo: Michael Hunter Photography

Barbara Gilbert Interiors. Photo: Michael Hunter Photography

The emergence of the open floorplan as a home design standard means more eyes than ever are on our kitchens. Design and function evolve every year, and we’ve asked some of the top Dallas interior designers to dish on 2016 kitchen trends for us.

They say the overall vibe for this year is crisp and uncluttered, with the warmth of wood floors and accents. They’ve also given us some gorgeous photos to show these trends in action. It’s going to be a beautiful year!

 

1. CRISP, LIGHTER-COLORED COUNTERTOPS

Bauhaus Custom Homes

Bauhaus Custom Homes

A kitchen designed by Nicole Arnold Interiors.

Nicole Arnold Interiors

Mary Anne Smiley Interiors LLC. Photo: Dan Piassick

Resin counter impregnated with selenite crystals. Mary Anne Smiley Interiors LLC. Photo: Dan Piassick

Granite, granite, granite. 

Could there be a more dominant kitchen trend in the past 10 years than granite counters? But long reign of granite as king of the kitchen is ending, say our designers.

“Granite has been on the outs for a few years—this is the year where quartz will be king,” said Kevin Twitty, an interior designer with IBB Design Fine Furnishings. “Gone is the granite with large veins and instead, people want the simple look of quartz, which allows for a clean and crisp look.”

Quartz products offer an array of color tones, from white to black and all shades in between.

The love of quartz began when marble’s failings as a durable, stain-resistant kitchen option became clear. People love the look of Carrera Marble, but it’s just not a practical choice for the wear and tear of a kitchen.

“Countertops are the biggest change in the last five years—everyone wanted white marble starting ten years ago,” said Barry Williams, owner of Williams Design Inc. “But after ten years of it not working, the word is finally out and the alternative is quartzite. Taj Majal is the frontrunner: plain, hard as nails, and expensive—it is the latest and greatest at the moment.”

Strength is one of the selling features of quartz: it’s the thing people love about granite.

“There are some great quartz counters that are so durable—they actually use quartz in hospitals because it doesn’t grow bacteria,” said Margaret Chambers, owner of Chambers Interiors & Associates. “Now they have some quartz that looks like Carrera Marble, and it’s stronger than granite.”

But quartz isn’t the only option.

“We all want our counters to look and be clean—beautiful durable resin counters [offer] a myriad of looks,” said Mary Anne Smiley, owner of Mary Anne Smiley Interiors. There’s also Vetrazzo recycled glass for a stunning textural look, Silestone in ‘steel’ for a seamless counter impervious to everything, glass counters, and my all time favorite, stainless steel.”

 

2. EUROPEAN-STYLE FLAT DOORS

Chambers Interiors & Associates, Inc.

Chambers Interiors & Associates, Inc.

Mary Anne Smiley Interiors LLC. Photo: Dan Piassick

Mary Anne Smiley Interiors LLC. Photo: Dan Piassick

AVID Associates. Photo: Michael Hunter

AVID Associates. Photo: Michael Hunter Photography

Continuing with the clean and crisp look of quartz countertops, the trend in kitchens is toward simplification of cabinet doors.

“No more arches, no more carvings, and no more tea staining to add dimension,” said Twitty. “I’m seeing a cleaner, flat-front cabinet door with simple pulls making more of an appearance.”

Many American design trends start in Europe and make their way across the pond, says Nicole Arnold, owner of Nicole Arnold Interiors.

“I’m seeing a renewed interest in a clean look for the kitchen—it seems like every ten years or so, people swing from one side to the other, and they’re just really over the ornate look now,” Arnold said. “It’s definitely a European influence, and it allows people to vary their accessories. If you have the foundation of a clean cabinet base, your accessories can make it feel contemporary, transitional, or traditional. This is linked to the interest in quartz counters because these style of cabinets lend themselves to that overall crisp look.”

 

3. LACQUER PAINT

Domiteaux + Baggett Architects, PLLC. Photo: Terri Glanger Photography

Domiteaux + Baggett Architects, PLLC. Photo: Terri Glanger Photography

Stocker Hoesterey Montenegro. Photo: Nathan Schroder

Stocker Hoesterey Montenegro. Photo: Nathan Schroder

The high shine of lacquer paint adds a glamorous, polished feel to a kitchen. This fits in beautifully with the overall clean, crisp look dominating this year.

“No more special finishes on cabinets—lacquer finishes on millwork are the new normal, and white is mostly the choice, specifically Benjamin Moore White Dove,” said Williams. “My dream kitchen would be built from exotic veneered hardwood and finished with polyester or catalyzed lacquer, which is more of an industrial finish—thick and endlessly glossy. The coating was developed for things like a bar or tabletop in an intense commercial atmosphere and there are only a handful of craftsmen that could execute that finish. It is decorator catnip.”

Even though white is popular, the color options are endless, and people often choose strong colors of lacquer, including navy and gray. Black is an enduring choice and continues to be a chic option for kitchen cabinets.

“Lacquer is a pretty contemporary look, so it’s not for everyone, but people in general are using some color in the kitchen, not just white,” said Barbara Gilbert, owner of Barbara Gilbert Interiors.

 

4. COLOR ON CABINETS AND ISLANDS

V Fine Homes

V Fine Homes

Stephanie Kratz Interiors

Stephanie Kratz Interiors

White cabinets are hugely popular, and that trend is still strong. But with the emergence of lacquer paint on cabinets, there’s increasing interest in color.

“White kitchens are extremely popular for more English or transitional homes, and a lot of people are moving toward using lacquers, like a pale green or blue or gray,” said Chambers, who noted that the “cabinets one color, island another” trend is fading.

Arnold agreed: “If people are painting the island a different color than the cabinets, it’s not as high of a contrast as before,” she said. For instance, if the perimeter were a white or off white, maybe the island is a light gray, or another subtle complementary color.”

An all-white kitchen looks sharp, but the love of color is undeniable for most people.

“People want their kitchens to be interesting, and they want some color in there,” Gilbert said. “I’m seeing a renewal of interest for gray, all different shades of gray, and some pale colors on cabinets.”

 

5. DISTINCTIVE BACKSPLASHES

Kevin Twitty, IBB Design Fine Furnishings

Kevin Twitty, IBB Design Fine Furnishings

Barbara Gilbert Interiors. Photo: Michael Hunter Photography

Barbara Gilbert Interiors. Photo: Michael Hunter Photography

With kitchens leaning towards a crisp, clean look with the door fronts, countertops, and soft paint colors, backsplashes will be the place where people want to wow this year.

“Backsplashes are one of the least expensive changes you can make in your kitchen, so don’t be afraid to go bold,” Twitty said. “Patterned backsplashes or a bold color are the place to show your guests you’re a fun and funky personality.”

For some people, an all-over bold backsplash is the ticket. Others want to contain the intense design to a smaller area.

“Especially over the cooktop to frame it out, people are definitely wanting a ‘wow factor’ there,” Gilbert said. “A kitchen we did in Celina has a decorative backsplash—it creates a focal point to draw your eyes away from the appliances and to bring some color in there, as well.”

In a kitchen with a lot of clean lines and soft, light colors, the backsplash provides the punch factor.

“In a recent kitchen I designed, I took out the upper cabinetry out on one wall and did and entire wall of glass tile, and it created almost an essence of rain,” Arnold said. “This was perfect for our client, who was from London and missed the drizzle, but not the dreariness.”

 

6. LED LIGHTS

Kevin Twitty, IBB Designer

Kevin Twitty, IBB Design Fine Furnishings

Michele Peterson, AMA Interiors

Michele Peterson, AMA Interiors

Good lighting is a must in the kitchen, and under-cabinet LED lights not only provide illumination for tasks, but give a warm, ambient glow to he whole room, too. It’s also eco-friendly.

“We use LEDs under cabinets, and it gives a lot of good light and it’s simple to install,” Gilbert said. “Another thing I do is install L.E.D. toekick lights  under cabinets, and people really love that because it can serve as a nightlight, and it’s a beautiful  look without having to burn a lot of electricity, since LEDs are so energy efficient.”

In glass-front cabinets, LEDs inside add another dimension of color to a kitchen by illuminating accessories inside.

“We’re doing a lot of LED under upper kitchen cabinets—they don’t get as hot, they are longer lasting, and they put out a really pretty light,” said Chambers.

 

7. HARDWOODS IN THE KITCHEN

Dona Rosene Interiors. Photo: Robert Peacock

Dona Rosene Interiors. Photo: Robert Peacock

Sterling Brook Custom Homes

Sterling Brook Custom Homes

Ellen Grasso & Sons, LLC

Ellen Grasso & Sons, LLC

The warmth and seamless look of hardwoods flowing throughout the common areas of the first floor is a big trend for 2016, our designers say. Wood floors in the kitchen aren’t a new idea, but expect to see increased demand for them this year.

“We have these great polyurethanes that coat them and with several coats, it’s very durable,” said Chambers. “Carrying from den into the kitchen, it’s more of a continuous look.”

The popularity of “barnitecture” carries into the kitchen, too.

“I’m seeing natural products and textures are being used now to demonstrate a Craftsman feel to the space, with a strong trend for wood floors this year and less tile,” said David Call, owner of David Call Interiors. “Wood is more durable, healthy, and clean.”

The finish of the floors will be less rustic in 2016 than previous years, though.

“We’re doing less handscraped wood, and if it is, we’re scraping with the grain, instead of against it, for a more subtle look,” Chambers said. “That’s good, because if you go the classic way of putting hardwoods in, you can sand them [to refinish] seven times. If you handscrape them, you can take away one to three layers of the floor.”

 

8. THE RETURN OF UPPER CABINETS

Kitchen designed by Kori Shurley of the Kitchen & Bath Cottage

Kitchen designed by Kori Shurley of the Kitchen & Bath Cottage

Photos: Tatum Brown Custom Homes

Tatum Brown Custom Homes. Photo: Dan Piassick

“Open shelving” has been the rage for a few years, but in 2016, our designers say to expect the return of upper cabinets. The reason? Practicality. Open shelving is a pain.

“I have some of it in my kitchen and I hate it,” said Gilbert. “I am a big functionality person and you need your cabinet space. Plus, you have to keep it very organized and it’s a lot of upkeep.”

Gilbert says the spacious feel of open shelving was part of its draw, and clients can still get that essence with translucent glass cabinets. There are about a dozen types of glass available with varying degrees of opacity to disguise the specifics of cabinet interiors, like seeded glass and rain glass.

“The rain glass has little pebbles in it and it’s slightly cloudy, so you will still see the colors of what’s in the cabinets, but it’s more shadowy,” Gilbert said.

The best kitchens for open shelving are big ones, because there’s plenty of storage elsewhere.

“In the really big kitchens, we’re not even doing upper cabiets on one wall—instead, we’re putting in windows or open shelves,” said Chambers. “It’s not for everybody, especially if you have a small kitchen and every inch counts for storage. It’s also why we’re not seeing too many clear glass open cabinets—you don’t have to have to worry about keeping it organized.”

 

9. PARTY PANTRIES/CATERING KITCHEN

Mary Anne Smiley Interiors LLC. Photo: Dan Piassick

Mary Anne Smiley Interiors LLC. Photo: Dan Piassick

Greenbrook Homes

Greenbrook Homes

Sterling Brook Custom Homes

Sterling Brook Custom Homes

For those who love to entertain, the visible mess in an open kitchen is unappealing. Enter the “party pantry,” also known as a catering kitchen or butler’s pantry. It’s not necessarily a full kitchen, but rather a detached area stocked with the necessities.

“A separate mini kitchen with all the amenities needed by the caterer, such as ice, dishwasher drawers, microwave, ice well, garbage disposal, china, flatware, and glassware storage and lots of counter space adjacent to the public kitchen is the ultimate for discerning hostesses who wish to keep her actual kitchen pristine during entertaining,” said Smiley.

 

10. OPEN KITCHENS

Nicole Arnold Interiors

Nicole Arnold Interiors

Mary Anne Smiley Interiors LLC. Photo: Dan Piassick

Mary Anne Smiley Interiors LLC. Photo: Dan Piassick

Photo: Starside Custom Builders

Photo: Starside Custom Builders

With the emergence of the open floorplan as a “must have” in home design, an open kitchen is the visual heart of the home. Expect this to be a huge trend in 2016.

“Kitchens in even the most elegant homes are opening up to adjacent spaces, such as breakfast rooms, breakfast bars, dinner bars, TV sitting rooms, and even dining and living rooms,” said Smiley. “It is now possible for the kitchen to be as elegant and attractive as any room in the home, and makes sense to bring the family together and offer different options for dining together, cooking together, doing homework together, watching TV together, and entertaining.”

Homeowners are using their kitchens differently from the traditional concept of continual “cooking stations” that existed years ago.

“Today, people use the kitchen as a social area for entertaining,” Call said. “They will invite friends for cocktails or a glass of champagne and appetizers prior to going out for dinner. The kitchen is designed with better seating to gather with guests and there are also wider spaces between the islands and countertops to mingle along with more drawer space for easy access during short-term entertaining.”

 

What are your predictions for 2016 kitchen trends? Leave us a comment! 

 

12 Comment

  • This makes me happy about my kitchen remodel I just finished. Recycled glass counters – check. Flat Euro-cabinets – check. Under-cabinet LEDs, check. Open kitchen – well, it’s a studio, so that’s kind of a given , but check.

    Party pantry sounds cool and is a great idea, but unfortunately not an option for me!

  • Thank you Leah & the Candy’s Dirt team. Loved this article! Even as a designer I loved hearing other professionals predictions!

  • No way flat cabinets in standard colors are going to be ‘in’ very long. They are way to easy to send downmarket into cheaply built apartments and starter homes, and way too easy to fake with cheap plywood faces. Minor ornamentation adds enough costs to keep it out of the bottom-barrel places, and you don’t want people eyeing your cabinets with a magnifying glass to see if you spent well or were a cheapskate.

    • Over Dog. Thank you for you commentary. As a professional, I will have to disagree with you. European flat front cabinets are for sure a 2016 trend! Everyone is wanting to simplify. Quite frankly, anything can be made “cheaply” these days. What sets apart the cheap from the quality is always apparent. The starter home/apartment look has trended toward the shaker style doors, not the european fronts.

  • If you want to upmarket your kitchen, use cabinets with inset doors/drawers (like furniture). Also, as much as possible use undercounter drawer banks instead of doors. They cost more and they’re a lot more convenient than crawling on your hands and knees to reach the back of a typical cabinet. Also, there is a difference between manufactured quartz (e.g. Silestone) and naturally occurring quartzite (Taj Mahal as mentioned). (Note to Kevin Twitty: If shaker is going downmarket, someone needs to tell the owners of the majority of the high-end kitchens pictured in this article on future trends 🙂 )

    • Right on Jon. Lower drawers replacing cabinets is a 2016 trend, and will be much longer lasting and is both more expensive and more functional.

      • I guess I’m waay ahead of the curve. I first put in all-lower drawer banks in a remodel I did 15 years ago…and I’m never going back! I even have drawer freezers.

  • I’m very good friends with Kathy Runkle of Luminexa and I was wondering if any of these are her countertops especially the ones with selenite in them? I own stock in this business and was so excited to see this article on someones Facebook from Kansas City, MO. I love her designs and she’s won ASID for the last few years so I felt certain those pictures were probably hers and Mary Anne Smiley might be the designer who’s name is using her product. Is that correct and is the yellow counter top one of hers? Thanks for any information.

  • Awesome kitchen designs. Green and yellow kitchen designs look very elegant and impressive.

  • Kitchen remodeling is one of the important part and according to the the new trends you can select the best one. You have to select the best kitchen material. Kitchen counter-tops are important and from that you have to select the best one. Also select the best color of your kitchen. Lightning part also plays an important role and you have to select the LED light which can save the energy. And in your blog the way you explain the 2016 kitchen trends that’s really impressive.