The New Kitchen: 5 Top Trends

updated Jun 16, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

The look of the kitchen is changing — already granite countertops and dark wood cabinets are starting to look a little late 90s. If you’re thinking of renovating or building a house (or just like looking!), here are five of the top trends for modern kitchens. And the best part? Some of these are things you can do right now, without spending much money at all.

White and Wood

It’s modern, but warm — the best of both worlds. Not something you can do overnight, but this would be a great application for some IKEA butcher block. And don’t be scared:
butcher block maintenance is easy.

1. A butcher block countertop lends warmth to a Scandinavian kitchen. From Bonytt via From Scandinavia with Love.
2. White and wood and black is an intriguing combo. I spy IKEA cabinets. From Desire to Inspire.
3. It’s the reverse of what you usually see, but wood cabinets with a white countertop work equally well. And is that…a laminate countertop? could it be making a comeback? From Klikk via Planete Deco.
4. How about white cabinets and wood cabinets together? Contrast is good. Ashley Capp via Desire to Inspire.
5. White and wood in a rustic kitchen from Miss Design.

→ Renovation Inspiration: 12 Beautiful Wood and White Marble Kitchens

Subway Tile
The popularity of subway tile (and other glazed white ceramic tile) shows no signs of flagging. It’s a lovely, traditional look that works equally well in modern kitchens. If you want to try something a little off the beaten path, try a
beveled option, or maybe go for dark grout, which gives the tile an extra little bit of depth (and let’s face it, is way easier to clean).

1. Subway tile in a Scandinavian kitchen from Stadshem via Design Attractor.
2. With dark grout, from The Hope Mousehole.
3. White subway tiles set off glossy dark cabinets to perfection in this kitchen from Matchbook.
4. Square white tiles with dark grout are a modern counterpoint to marble in this London kitchen from Charles Mellersh.
5. Square white tiles, with a lively little niche, from Lev & Bo.

→ More subway tile inspiration: 10 Surprising Uses of Subway Tile in the Kitchen

Marble Countertops

has a reputation for being a bit high-maintenance, but if you’re willing to put forth the effort, it is really breathtaking paired with the white cabinets that are so popular right now. (It’s also equally striking with black cabinets.) Because it’s a natural material, like wood, marble is wonderful for adding a little bit of visual texture to a modern kitchen.

1. Marble and brass are perfect together in this kitchen from
Style at Home.

2. Marble countertops in a dreamy Brooklyn kitchen from
Elle Decor.

3. Marble countertops in a lovely kitchen from
Lonny. The super-thick edge on the island is a nice detail.

4. Marble and butcherblock mingle in a traditional-meets-modern kitchen from
Canadian House & Home. The marble folding over the edge of the island is a modern details that gives the kitchen a little extra panache.

5. Marble is lovely with black countertops, too, as seen in this kitchen from At Home in Arkansas.

→ More Marble: 20 Gorgeous Marble Kitchens

Open Shelving
Open shelving — highly controversial, freakishly popular. Pros: open shelving can make a small kitchen look much larger, and it’s a great way to put all your lovely things on display. Cons: all those plastic stadium cups and souvenir pint glasses are going to have to be stashed in the lower cabinets. Can’t decide? You could even try a mix of both!

This particular trend is actually quite accessible — if you’d like to try it out, all you have to do is remove your cabinet doors and see how it looks. Then you can choose to go ‘soft’ by replacing cabinet doors with glass-front doors, or replacing a single section of cabinetry with open shelves to display the pretty things — or you can go whole hog and tear out all your cabinets and replace them with shelving. (Hanging shelving won’t be particularly hard, but you may have to re-think your backsplash.)

1. Elegant wood shelving, seen in a kitchen from The Marion House Book.
2. Open shelving makes this small kitchen from Lonny seem more spacious (the subdued color palette of the dishes definitely helps).
3. For your bohemian kitchen, crates and baskets can take the place of upper cabinets. I love the contrast of the super-sleek white lower cabinets (complete with white faucet!) and the rustic look of the crates. Katarina Grundstromer via The Brown Workshop and The Kitchn.
4. A great example of open shelving mixed with traditional upper cabinets, from Stadshem via
5. At the far end of the spectrum is this kitchen from House to Home with hardly any upper storage at all. Some people are choosing to take this one step further and go with no upper cabinets at all — a clean look, but one that must involve a lot of squatting down and scrounging around.

→ Join the Debate: Open Shelving-Love it or hate it?

Two-Tone Cabinets
Painting upper cabinets and lower cabinets a different color keeps things interesting — and it’s an easy makeover you can do by yourself (potentially by painting only half your cabinets!).

1. White and green, from Better Homes and Gardens.
2. Black and white cabinets give this traditional kitchen from Canadian House & Home a little something extra.
3. Contrasting uppers in wood from

Cissy and Robert’s kitchen

4. Bright white upper cabinets in this kitchen from
Est blend into the wall, making the kitchen seem more spacious.

5. White uppers and wood lower cabinets in a contrasting kitchen from

(Images: 1. Leela Cyd Ross/Ryan’s Stunning San Francisco Remodel (click to see full tour). All others: as credited above)