The view from the showroom

Howarth Timber researcher and blogger Kat Jacklin outlines key kitchen trends identified for 2018 and beyond.

Providing a dedicated kitchen design service to both trade customers and homeowners offers a unique insight into kitchen design trends: not only those which glossy magazines tell consumers they should want, but features and colours that people actually want to create in their homes.

But whether your taste tends towards traditional, or you want to bring contemporary cool into your home, there are certain elements of design that will never go out of style. Building these evergreen elements into kitchen design, alongside up to date trend-led colours and features, means that the finished space will be the heart of the home for years to come: which is exactly what a kitchen should be.

Appliances: traditional & technological

For many years, appliances were seen as something of a necessary evil in kitchens: with limited choice and few colour options, appliances were previously prioritising function over form.

However, modern kitchen design allows for creative use of appliances so that they either become attractive feature pieces within the room, or blend seamlessly into the overall look of the space.

Larger items like freestanding range cookers or US style fridge-freezers can act as a focal point in the room. With a selection of sizes and colours available from suppliers such as Rangemaster, large cookers can work equally well in traditional ‘farmhouse’ style kitchens or in more contemporary spaces with bright or pastel shades.

Similarly, large Belfast or Butler sinks are enjoying a renaissance in kitchen design. These have been popular for years with those looking to recreate traditional, country-style kitchens. But the style has seen something of a resurgence in more contemporary spaces, driven both by aesthetics and practicality as people need more space to accommodate bulky kitchenware!

However, when it comes to appliances, some trends are here to stay. The desire for clean, uninterrupted lines throughout the kitchen accounts for the ongoing trend for integrated appliances.

Modern kitchen design means that smaller appliances can be built into the surfaces or sit perfectly alongside built-in wall units, while larger appliances such as fridges, dishwashers and washing machines can be hidden from view entirely.

But the biggest step-change in kitchen appliances is the advent of smart technology. Kitchens have long been a hub of technological advancement, as we look to increase efficiency and – now – to increase connectivity in every aspect of our lives.

Expect to see Wi-Fi operated kettles, pop-up plug sockets with USB points especially for charging phones, or even wireless charge points being built directly into the kitchen counters.

And as we all continue to seek out ways to keep our environmental impact down, kitchen features can lead the way here too.

Boiling taps cut out the kettle without compromising on your tea-making regime. Taps such as Quooker’s utilise high- vacuum insulation to provide the exact amount of boiling water required for a cup of tea for a cost of just 3p per day: saving both water and electricity.

Colour and light

As the hub of home-life, it’s no surprise that kitchen design often reflects trends seen in everything from fashion to high- end interior design. That’s certainly the case with copper and rose, two stylish contemporary tones that can add personality and a point of difference to your kitchen.

For years, chrome, nickel, stainless steel and pewter have dominated when it comes to kitchen cabinet handles but the rise in popularity of rose gold and copper elsewhere in the home means that interest is building in these modern metallics in the kitchen too.

Rose gold or copper handles, combined with sinks and taps, add a contemporary twist that stands out from the crowd and works especially well as a point of contrast with the dark hued blue or black cabinets that are also on trend.

Lighting has an important role to play when it comes to creating the ideal atmosphere in the kitchen. Concealed lighting is a major trend in kitchen design, adding depth and interest to surfaces and cabinets.

Strip lighting can be included throughout the kitchen, including underneath wall cabinets, along the bottom of floor cabinets to create floor- level lighting, and even at the edges of drawers which can help to illuminate dark areas of the kitchen.

Digital design

While homeowners often want to see a physical kitchen design before they make their decision, many people have a good idea in mind of what they want before they set foot in a showroom.

Giving customers the option to use an online kitchen planning tool on their own tablet or laptop means that customers are in control, and can virtually create their own kitchen space long before the real- world version needs to take shape.

Those planning a new kitchen can feel free to explore the options online using an online design service to test out different cabinet designs and colour combinations to create a space that suits their home and their needs with the ideal blend of form and functionality.

Kat Jacklin is a blogger for Howarth Timber’s website