Top 10 Kitchen Design Trends for 2014

So you’re renovating or building your new kitchen in 2014 and you want to make 100% sure that your kitchen design is ‘spot on’ and that it won’t leave you feeling like you’ve walked onto a dicey, B-grade soap opera set a few years down the line... You are not alone.

Ironically, with the likes of Pinterest, and thousands of other design inspiration resources out there it’s never been more confusing to try and pull together a kitchen design that works. More and more, homeowners are resisting the simplicity of mass produced carbon copy kitchen designs that may tick the functionality box, but don’t meet every item on ‘the list’. Let’s be honest, we’re all looking for a kitchen that will give us that blissful, ‘contented sigh’, all-is-well-with-the-world feeling – we want a kitchen that makes us feel special. Not unlike many a woman’s search for Mr Right…

As homeowners we’re increasingly drawn to create living spaces that embody our intangible personality characteristics, as well as create an atmosphere that resonates with our core beliefs and personal values. We’re at a bizarre crossroads of ages: we find ourselves caught up at an intersection of self-actualisation, individualism, limitless options and the obsessed-with-being-special, Generation Y worldview, leaving us overwhelmed with choices – yet seeking an end result that is almost spiritual in its significance to us personally.

Successful kitchen designers don’t just design kitchens. They create artworks: visual interpretations that must reflect multiple aspects of their clients’ identities or personas. A client’s satisfaction will depend on how much of themselves they can recognise in their kitchen. If you’re redoing your kitchen on a solo mission, you are probably attempting to do the same thing. There is something in each of us that delights in seeing our own image reflected in our creations – it generates a pleasurable resonance within us.

Excellent kitchen design is a balancing act between design and colour longevity, functionality and personal touch. A good kitchen designer will get a sense of what kind of person you are before putting pencil to sketchpad, or index finger to mouse. Your job is to communicate to your designer the kind of spaces you feel most comfortable in. Are you an outdoorsy, spunky entertainer, or an artistic, moody hipster? Do you desperately need a neon pink kitchen, or are you just in love with the idea of having a neon pink kitchen? Work out whether you just appreciate a funky, ‘out there’ design or if you can live in that bright, psychedelic space for a decade or two.

Make sure your design choices are serving you and not constraining you. It may help to ask yourself some questions. Which restaurants do you feel most at home in, and why? Are you an urban, contemporary, concrete and lights kind of person, or is your happy place in a log cabin on the mountains? Do you like structured, clean lines or more of an organic look and feel? It’s often a good idea to measure how certain spaces make you feel and then identify the elements that stand out for you to achieve a design that recaptures that feeling that you’re after.

Unfortunately, budget is always an issue, as well as your predicted tenure in your current home. It’s no good designing your perfect kitchen if you’re selling up and moving to Perth next year. They say (whoever “They” are) if you’re going to be in your house for longer than five years then it’s ok to treat yourself when it comes to the wants versus the needs of your kitchen design. You would probably be over-capitalising if you succumbed to your wants otherwise. Check out Your dream kitchen on a budget… without sacrificing your Caesarstone tops for hints on how to save money to keep the finishes you really want.

We’ve put together a list of kitchen design trends for 2014 that will help you navigate the choppy waters of contemporary or country style kitchen design to help you create your dream kitchen interior with ease, and a little bit of flair.

1. Monotones are here to stay

Let’s face it, you can never go wrong with whites and neutrals and this year proves no exception. With world economic growth inching forward at a sluggish pace, many of us need to plan kitchens that will work for at least ten years, if not twenty. And we haven’t even started talking about reselling. Monotone colours and whites offer the most versatility as base colour concepts as they don’t demand visual attention in the way that brights do, nor do they overstimulate the eyes. If you’re still not convinced, take a cue from the wedding dress: classic colour and design will never let you down!

A shabby chic kitchen design featuring Ash Caesarstone by Tarryn Naude of Cole’s Kitchens

A luxury contemporary kitchen design featuring Shitake Caesarstone by Beth Gillitt of Kitchen Classics

2. Keep Calm And Add A Splash of Colour

Just like your former biker, druggie crush from high school, an eccentric kitchen has an exceptionally short novelty period – for you and your family and friends. Resist the urge to express your mid-life crisis in colour and rather add colour to kitchen elements that are inexpensive to update, such as glass backsplashes, small appliances, display pieces or wallpaper. Marita Smuts from Future Classics, the co-winner of the Judges’ Choice award from the Caesarstone Kitchen Designers 2013 competition says, “We advise our clients to add splashes of colour with splashbacks, accessories and even wallpaper so they can change it at a later stage. There’s nothing worse than sitting with a red kitchen for twenty years – even if you are adventurous!”

One of the winners of the Caesarstone Kitchen Designers 2013 competition, Santa Eksteen from Sterlings predicts, “The use of monotones and earthy colours will still be used overall with just a splash of colour in well thought-out spaces.”

A double category winner of the Caesarstone Kitchen Designers 2013 competition, Charlotte van der Haer from Kitchen Classics in Durban confirms this prediction: “I see the trend moving towards using more bold areas of colour, not in the actual colour of the cupboards themselves but rather in feature areas in the kitchen. Possibly a glass splashback, bright feature wall or bold décor”. And now there’s no excuse – you’ve heard it from the experts!

Featuring Pure White Caesarstone – a kitchen by Marita Smuts and Heidi Arenstein of Future Classics, winners of the Judges’ Choice Award in the Caesarstone Kitchen Designers 2013 competition

3. Back to the Future: A New Old-World Look

This year homeowners and designers will break free from the shackles of one-style-fits-all thinking. Contemporary, country, farm style, shabby chic or industrial – whatever style revs your motor has the thumbs up this year. What is cropping up again is the inclusion of old-world metals such as copper, rose gold and brass in reaction to the stainless steel coup which has besieged the kitchen design world these past few years. These gorgeous – and yes, expensive – materials can be incorporated into your kitchen as accessories. Think light fittings, cookware, trivets or other kitchen odds and ends. Some high-end, foreign retailers offer specialist ovens with copper finishes: true masterpieces for the kitchen!

Contemporary designs aside, there are some stunning reinventions of designs and styles from times gone by that designers can help you incorporate into your new kitchen design. The fifties and sixties fascination that continues to grip some industries has certainly left its mark on our homes. A cursory look at SMEG appliances reveals an expression of popular culture’s continuing reminiscence of these eras. According to Santa this obsession with the past will continue in 2014, “We will also see personal elements or elements from the past playing a big role in the overall feel of the kitchen.”

All things copper and brass are on-trend in 2014. Featuring the Caesarstone Kitchen Designer 2011 finalist design from blu_line’s Phillip Richards

4. Keep it Classy: Incorporate Natural Materials

This is not something exclusive to 2014, but has been creeping up on us year on year as the hipster sub-culture-turned-pop-culture craze and the slightly more serious environmental sustainability movement grow in their momentum and influence over mainstream society and design. Being surrounded by nature has been proven to be good for our mental and physical health and even reduces stress levels so it’s no wonder that city dwellers have begun to incorporate elements of nature into the home. Timber, stone, glass and metal each have an elemental look and feel to them that remind us of the great outdoors and intrinsically bring a sense of wholeness and authenticity into any space. Provided they are handled prudently, natural materials can offer your space a classic, timeless appeal which can add longevity to the visual appeal of your culinary domain.

In part due to the foodie fad and partly because of our need for ‘green’, indoor living herb walls have also become fashionable for similar reasons. This year you would do well to include a combination of these nature-rich elements for a sense of balance and as a visual ode to your overall serenity and mental health. Why not try stone countertops in a natural colour and design, glass splashbacks and textured wooden open shelving or a raw timber finish on your cabinetry or lighting bulkhead? Regular, fresh and indigenous flower arrangements will also add to the natural ambience of your kitchen.

This kitchen features a number of 2014 trends – can you spot them? Caesarstone Kitchen Designer 2012 winning design, featuring Caesarstone Pure White by Beth Gillitt of Kitchen Classics

5. Integrate Technology

2014 is the year to make life simpler by incorporating kitchen technological advances and integrating your media toys too. Terrified of not being able to use your electrical appliances on your kitchen island? Ask your designer to ensure a power docking system, affectionately known as a ‘power tower’ amongst designers, is included in your island design. This nifty feature is a cylinder of plug points that can be pulled out of the island countertop when power points are needed and then slid back down and out of sight when you are finished. With so many homeowners opting for open plan kitchen and living room designs, ensure your flatscreen is installed with a swivel mechanism so you can pull it out and twist the screen to face you in the kitchen while you cook! The kitchen is also a great place to install an iPod docking station so you can pump those passionate Beethoven concerto melodies while you whip up some eisbein or lamb shank in the winter months. While some manufacturers are making very pretty large appliances, it’s still a time to hide them away behind the cabinetry. Refrigerators, microwaves and dishwashers can become invisible and even integrated into the cupboard system. A trendy large appliance to show off these days, however, is the specialist wine cooler. For those who don’t drink wine, you can settle for storing your trendy KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer on the countertop to impress yourself with your excellent taste, as well as your foodie friends.

The power docking system is featured in this kitchen island – conveniently stored in the kitchen island. A Snow White Caesarstone Kitchen Designers 2012 finalist design, by Rian Steenkamp of Easylife Kitchens, Tygervalley

6. Underslung Sinks Stick it Out

The underslung sink isn’t going anywhere this year. This gravity-defying design trend is the sidekick to a gorgeous kitchen countertop and frankly just makes sense. Why would you cover a beautiful surface with a ghastly stainless steel double sink and drainboard when you can hide the less attractive, but very functional element out of sight? With smaller homes often needing to sacrifice a scullery, most of us are happy for the ‘dirty’ part of the kitchen to be as camouflaged as possible.

Surfacing amongst country-style kitchens is the farmhouse sink – this very large porcelain sink hearkens back to hundreds of years ago when pots were apparently monstrous in size! Although not technically underslung as they rest on a support structure, these sinks are a feature of modern farm-style kitchens too.

Having just implied that sinks are unsightly things that should be never be seen, there have been some innovations in the sink world. For an uber-luxury finish it’s possible to create a sink out of your countertop material. Some surface manufacturers are creating pre-fabricated sinks out of your favourite surfaces materials for the sake of continuity and a more beautiful kitchen. Even Caesarstone is experimenting with offering such an option to hopeful kitchen designers and homeowners alike. Watch this space!

A Reto Kitchens kitchen in the luxury Morgenrood development in Cape Town featuring Shitake Caesarstone surfaces

A Snow White Caesarstone kitchen countertop with an underslung sink

7. Too Hot to Handle

From what we can see, there isn’t a major move towards fingergrips instead of handles in the kitchen, rather ‘to handle or not to handle’ is very much dependent on your overall design style. Push-touch technology means you don’t actually physically need handles, but you will pay dearly to forego the ancient tradition of using handles on doors and drawers. Our prediction is that this look will eventually become quite dated in contemporary kitchens, but take it or leave it – it all depends on your personal taste. 

A contemporary kitchen design can be created with push-touch technology and handleless cabinets. Featuring Alaska Caesarstone in a kitchen design by Lara Myerson of Lara Myerson Design and Haydn Ellis of Ellis & Associates Architects

Antique style handles add to the old-world feel of this Shitake Caesarstone kitchen by Reto Kitchens in the Morgenrood development in Cape Town

8. Island Style

We may never get away from the kitchen island, and that’s ok. Immensely popular at the moment is the Caesarstone “waterfall leg extension” island where the crust of the kitchen island is made from Caesarstone or other engineered stone surfaces. This trend beautifully shows off your countertop surface material, so it’s best to select a top material if you’re going to go for this very contemporary design. This kitchen island design will also limit your storage capabilities on either end of your island, so be sure of your storage needs before opting for beauty over functionality.

A White Star Caesarstone kitchen by Kim Hansen of Kitchen Classics

Another pretty and functional trend is to incorporate a type of dining island onto the main kitchen island. This trend flows right out of the kitchen being firmly entrenched as the hub of home and family life where the kids can do their homework while your cook, or your mates can enjoy a glass of wine with you and keep you company while you prepare the evening’s feast.

The dining island kitchen design trend for 2014. Featuring Caesarstone Ash and Pure White in a kitchen by Beth Gillitt of Kitchen Classics in Durban

Even traditionally styled kitchens do well with islands – so there’s no style where it won’t work really.

A finalist design in the Caesarstone Kitchen Designers 2013 competition by Izelle Janse van Rensburg, Easylife Kitchens, Port Elizabeth, featuring Nougat Caesarstone kitchen countertops

9. The Yuppiechef Movement

Although Yuppiechef is the name of a quirky online luxury kitchen tool retailer, it also perfectly epitomises the foodie trend that is still taking the world by storm. The birth and wild popularity of cooking shows like Masterchef and Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef reveal just how deep our love for beautiful and tasty food goes and how luxury food preparation has become an international hobby. We don’t just want to eat special food in posh restaurants anymore, we want to make fancy, creative dishes ourselves – at home. And in front of all of our friends. The foodie trend has opened a gateway for the likes of Le Creuset, KitchenAid and other kitchen tool brands that have brought professional tools into the homes of aspiring amateurs. Kitchen designs have followed suit, becoming hospitality centres where hosts can show off their culinary expertise right before their guests’ eyes with their gadgets and specialist cooking utensils. Paired with the hipster obsession with growing your own herbs and vegetables, 2014 is the year to design a kitchen that makes your foodie heart sing! Check out this article on the ultimate entertainer’s kitchen to maximise on creating a kitchen that will stage your mad foodie skills to the max!

A gorgeous meringue creation on a marble-inspired Frosty Carrina Caesarstone kitchen surface

10. You Are Your Kitchen

The way we dress, the way we speak, the way we do our hair and make-up, and the homes we create are all expressions of our personal brands. Just as companies select colours, fonts, language and imagery to create a particular experience of their products and services, so your style preferences and design choices will contribute to or detract from the experience of you.

We primarily make choices on which brands to wear, which brands to drive and which brands to buy based on how we want to perceive ourselves and how we want to be perceived by others. Exclusivity has become a driving force for consumers in general as we each seek to carve out a niche for our personal brands. Just like Woolworths, we’re all trying to define ‘the difference’. As Western consumers, we’re probably sub-consciously or just plain overtly trying to express just how unique and different we are through our possessions and surroundings. Local trend forecasting guru Dave Nemeth points out that we’re in the middle of a rebellion against mass market consumables, “One of the biggest backlash trends towards mass production is customisation as consumers rebel against a one size fits all philosophy.”

Beth Gillitt of Kitchen Classics poses in her finalist design for the Caesarstone Kitchen Designers 2012 competition

This need to be unique is a reason kitchen designers will do well in 2014, as they offer their clients the means to express their individuality through quality bespoke kitchen design. As the choices and options offered to us continue to grow, homeowners are in the position of being able to customise their spaces to their exact taste, depending on budget of course. We predict that you will be happiest living in a kitchen that is a veritable visual cacophony of, well, you. The best compliment anyone could give you about any aspect of your home or kitchen this year will be, “this is very… you”.