“Millennial Gray Kitchens” Are Less Popular Now — And Personally, I’m Thrilled

published Dec 18, 2023
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All white kitchen
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When I wrote about my dream to find a house with personality and the despair over yet another open house where I could throw a bowling ball from the front door straight out the back, I was exhausted by walking into homes and spotting yet another space stripped of color and character.

The open floor plan, the all-white homes, that black iron staircase with horizontal railings — you know the one. It’s another home where a flipper took the easy way out by reducing a house to its most basic silhouette. 

There was no time to painstakingly strip trim or keep the original floors. They need to flip quickly to meet their numbers. Builder-grade, white, gray — throw in those stainless steel appliances just to give it a touch of luxury. Buyers would totally eat it up, right?

Not anymore. 

A kitchen that’s so devoid of personality that it feels like a hospital lab isn’t going to cut it now that we’ve all found our way from grandmillennial Instagram into cottagecore TikTok. 

We get one look at those copy-and-paste kitchens, and we’re over it.

And that’s why I’m ecstatic that it seems as if lived-in kitchens are starting to crawl their way back from the graveyard of home trends. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported that there was a two-point gain in the number of buyers looking for traditional kitchens in 2023, and I like to think that means they’re here for color, pattern, and classic, vintage-inspired materials.

Personally, I’m a sucker for a traditional, moody-leaning kitchen. Dark cabinets, brass fixtures, warm wood accents, perhaps a pop of wallpaper. I want to cut up my autumnal squash by the glow of accent lighting, before pulling out a timeworn acacia cutting board to slice a crusty loaf of homemade bread. 

I want detail on my cabinets — and I’m not the only one. According to NAR, the popularity of shaker cabinets decreased last year. Get those boring, personality-less cabinets out of here. And in a shocking twist of events, NAR also reports wood cabinets are increasing in popularity again. Who saw that coming?

When it comes to cozy images of home, I’m in deep. Those nostalgic references and moody colors make me want to cook, bake, and make my own spice blends. William Morris wallpaper, an aged brass sconce, and a quirky dark green cabinet — that’s the kind of house I want to move right into.

Perhaps it’s my internalized rejection of the “market-reflected gaze,” as noted in the Dysplacement and the Professionalization of the Home paper from 2022. The market-reflected gaze represents the HGTV-ification of home. It’s what created the white and gray kitchen with the heavily veined countertops, the sleek backsplash, and the oversized hood. 

Now we’re watching the rejection happen in real time. Zillow’s latest report on paint colors says that a white kitchen could lead to a selling price that’s $612 less than other homes. People are ready for kitchens with character! They want color, personality, and something that feels nostalgic, traditional, and maybe even moody. When they pull out their warm wood cutting board or hang a pastoral oil painting on the wall, they want it to feel like it belongs. And, if you ask me, these kitchens feel more like home than a sterile flipper-ready, millennial gray kitchen ever will.