8 Up-And-Coming Kitchen Trends Real Estate Agents Love Seeing

published Oct 7, 2020
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Credit: Chloe Berk

For years, the kitchen has had a front-row seat to scores of trends and fads. More recently, there’s the comeback of the cast-iron skillet, keto diets, the air fryer craze, and cauliflower making its way into all kinds of cruciferous recipes, just to name a few. But what about your kitchen itself? This functional gathering space was already a favorite to renovate, with trends like, say, colorful appliances influencing what the modern home kitchen looks like. 

Now, coronavirus has put an increased emphasis on eating in, and even more up-and-coming styles are transforming kitchens to cater to the home chef. Here are eight kitchen trends that have caught the attention of realtors this year, who say they have some staying power.

Restored antiques

Sarah Kruse, a real estate agent in Portland, Ore., says she’s seen a decrease in complete kitchen overhauls. Instead, homeowners are getting creative by updating their kitchen’s original features.  “I continue to see people taking liberties with keeping original cabinets, fixtures, and even countertops and reviving or modernizing them with fresh coats of modern paint, new cabinet pulls, or fun wallpaper,” she says. “I think the trend has emerged during COVID and WFH because it’s a fun way to update your space without taking your kitchen fully out of commission.” And it’s one she loves because it gives a nod to the original time period of the house, but with some modern touches.

A second dishwasher

Already, double dishwashers have been sought-after amenities in kosher kitchens, explains New York City Triplemint real estate agent Joan Kagan, as the appliances help to keep meat and dairy dishes separate. But now the interest in having an extra dishwasher has become more widespread, Kagan explains. Amid a new norm of working from home and remote learning, families have been preparing three meals a day at home (plus snacks!) and want to keep stacks of dishes from piling up in the sink and overtaking countertops.

Ultra-organized pantries

Prior to the pandemic, buyers hardly took note of the inside of a pantry, says Brandon Marianne Lee, a New York City real estate agent with Triplemint. “Now, when my clients see a well-organized and labeled pantry, they actually swoon,” she says. Lee predicts the return of an old-school pantry, even in compact, city kitchens, so people can stock up on non-perishables.

Open shelving

Barbara Callan, a San Francisco realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty, says she’s noticing people dressing their kitchens much like they would the rest of their homes. That means bringing in patterns with tile, using statement light fixtures, warming up the space with wood tones, and creating seating areas that are comfortable and inviting. As an extension of that, open shelving is a trend that’s here to stay. “It can make a small space look larger and allow for a homeowner to display dishes or useful collectibles like pots and pans,” Callan says.

Touchless appliances

From motion-activated water taps to a smart fridge that will notify your grocery delivery app that you need more milk, mainstream kitchens are evolving to become more high-tech, says New York City broker Gerard Splendore with Warburg Realty. Cleanliness and sanitation are more important than ever, he notes. Because of this, touchless appliances, as well as those that are integrated with our new grocery delivery habits, are less about luxury and more about convenience. They’re also helpful for home cooks, adds Matthew Martinez with Diamond Real Estate Group in the San Francisco Bay Area, as a smart oven can essentially serve as a sous chef while you’re wrapping up your WFH day.

Pops of color

It’s last call for the all-white kitchen, predicts Katharine Deering, a Los Angeles real estate agent with Nourmand & Associates. “People are starting to have fun with cabinetry and appliances in a way that I haven’t seen since 1950s and 1960s design,” she says. “Think blue kitchen islands or cherry-red ovens.” Of course these novelty appliances come at a premium price, Deering says, so make sure if you go this route, you won’t want to swap them out in a year or two if you tire of the color. 

Jennifer Petreccia, an agent with RE/MAX Advantage Group in Warwick, R.I., says she’s seeing  the color trend show up in new kitchens that have contrasting kitchen islands. “For example, a home with white cabinets may have a kitchen island with a navy-blue cabinet. This helps give a space a pop of color and add a wow factor.”

Leafy views

Today’s buyers are requesting a kitchen with a view. “Now that more people have been spending time at home cooking, they want to stare out the windows into a beautiful garden, a lake, or a patio,” says Francie Malina, a real estate agent with Compass in Westchester, N.Y. As an extension of this trend, buyers are also interested in kitchens in close proximity to outdoor space for convenient outdoor dining and grilling. Even when temperatures get cooler, many will still enjoy outdoor dining with the help of heaters, Malina says.

Because of the increased demand for al fresco dining at home, adding some kitchen appliances into your outdoor living space is a draw for today’s buyers, says Jena R. Jensen, a New York real estate agent who works primarily in Long Island and Queens. “A built-in gas grill is appealing to house hunters,” Jensen says. “Add a pizza oven, and you have yourself a bidding war.”

Indoor gardens

The kitchen gardening movement is one that’s catching on, says F. Ron Smith with Smith & Berg Partners at Compass in Los Angeles. Hydroponic systems are gaining popularity as a reliable food source, Smith points out, and this homesteading practice can trim down on your trips to the grocery store. Post-pandemic, the kitchen gardening movement will remain popular, as it cuts down on plastic consumption and food transportation.