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Kitchen Design Trends for 2021

By Paul McAlary

I often see blogs and magazine articles predicting bold kitchen design trends. In reality these three trends have remained the same for 10 years.

1- White shaker style cabinetry has remained the most purchased style cabinet.

2- The most frequently chosen countertops are engineered quartz, granite or quartzite in light colors resembling marble.

3- The most popular flooring choices are darker wood and porcelain tile that look like wood, and luxury vinyl in similar colors

picture of a living space showing the dark flooring design trend

We do see exceptions, but they are generally in rural areas that lag behind suburban design trends, and cities where contemporary and ultra-modern cabinetry is often used in high rises and condos.

While predicting bold kitchen style changes is a frequent topic in magazines and on DIY television programs, the “authorities” making these predictions generally have minimal experience and are less knowledgeable than anyone a homeowner should consider working with on a kitchen remodel. It’s also nearly a sure bet that their predictions are completely wrong year after year.

white kitchen with large blue island

Here are my more realistic predictions for where kitchen design is headed in the coming years:

Color & Style
There will be more variation in color and style going forward but only subtly. Countertops may get darker and darker island colors will continue to become more popular, but recessed panel door styles will rule for another 10 years, and white and off-white colors will still dominate.

Finding a qualified designer

The pandemic has changed how people research and shop for kitchens. Browsing the web, and watching HGTV, unfortunately, is more popular and will remain so. Read this blog: We Rate Kitchen Remodeling TV shows for their realism and advice

Too often, the little information consumers gather empowers them to feel that they know far more than they do. This will create a widening gap between the better designs done by more talented professional kitchen designers and the work done by non-professionals.

Over the next ten years, this gap will become more extreme. Homeowners will begin paying a steep price unless they use designers who ONLY design kitchens, full-time. Well-designed homes do and will continue to sell for more than real estate formulas predict. This reality will be one of the factors that drives better design being recognized going forward.

New construction

New Home Builders will also be forced to finally begin valuing good design. This trend is already occurring. For example, several of our customers purchasing newly constructed homes from Toll Brothers and other builders, have immediately after closing, ripped out their poorly designed kitchens to install better ones. What a waste! How much more would those homes have sold for were they better designed.

Bad taste
Unfortunately, I don’t see this trend abating as quickly as it needs to. Too many homeowners insist on compromising good design to squeeze features
in that don’t work in a room. My wife giggles every time I try to convince customers that smaller chairs don’t make an island work – people are still the same size!

U shape kitchen with dining room table

The most important predictor for every homeowner to consider is finding an experienced kitchen designer to work with. Once you select a good designer you can easily forecast that you will have a kitchen that you love and one that adds substantial value to your home.

12 Replies to “Kitchen Design Trends for 2021”

  1. H Fischer

    Would you opt for Signature cabinets as opposed to Wellborn?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi H Fisher,
      Signature Custom and the highest Wellborn line with all the upgrades are comparable. Which would be the better value would depend on the door style and finish you were choosing.

      As always the kitchen design itself is usually what customers should be worrying about the most. But since they are not kitchen designers themselves and many kitchen designers aren’t very good they don’t realize it. If you are buying more expensive cabinetry you need to first spend money on removing walls, soffits, and moving fixture, appliances, doorways and windows. These construction changes cost less than expensive cabinetry and high end appliances and are what determines the value of your home. Getting expensive stuff and having a less that an amazing design is just throwing money away. This concept goes unheeded 95% of the time.

      For example we examine and advise people on cabinetry and design on our podcast on Fridays 2 – 4 pm EST. Call 610-500-4071.
      Most designs we see are amateurish and they often have major mistakes. But homeowners are completely unaware and often are calling to ask about cabinetry when there are major problems that need to be corrected on their designs.

  2. Shirley Reaux

    I need to redo my kitchen in a custom built home about 20 years old. I like the cabinets I have but they are falling apart. I am confused about wheather or not to have custom built cabinets or maybe manufactured cabinets. I want a painted finish but have read that custom built cabinets painted finishes deteriorate quickly because of the amount of water used on them in a kitchen.
    Some manufactured cabinets, like KraftMaid, advertise a baked on finish. I would think that would be a better choice but have read that custom made cabinets can’t be beat for quality. Also I have found an excellent kitchen planner who lives in my town with 27 years of professional experience. My job must be done for $40,000. I have newer appliances and flooring. I just need the cabinets and island done. Do you think I can afford to attempt to use that professional? I have never redone a kitchen before and have some reservations of how to proceed. Can you advise me?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Shirley,
      Find a kitchen designer that works for a cabinet dealership. Their design help will be better and included in the cost of the cabinets. Custom cabinets are not homemade cabinets and come from major brands that use the same kinds of finishes as other brands. See this blog:
      If you are on a budget custom cabinets will be both out of your price range and not necessary.

      We would never replace a kitchen with the same foot print as one done 20 years ago. Better designs are ALLWAYS a better investment. However many homeowners can’t see past their original kitchen.

  3. Robert Gaglione

    Hello, I’ve recently spoken with a local custom cabinet shop here on Long Island that uses Medex (MDF) for door inserts and for door rails and stiles on inset painted cabinets. I’ve not seen this done before but they claim it is less inclined to expand and contract. Is this acceptable build quality – using Medex – for the entire door on custom cabinets in your opinion? Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Robert,
      This is a terrible idea. Yes there will be no expansion issues but the doors and drawers will be easily damaged. On expensive custom cabinetry this makes no sense. I suspect this “custom” shop is not what we would consider custom. Here’s a blog that might apply:

  4. Teri Kelly


    I really appreciate all the great information here. I am a first time cabinet buyer and we are planning to get white shaker. We have been talking with designers about Crystal, Dura Supreme and Columbia. Would love input on these since I am going in circles and not making any decisions…

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Teri,
      Crystal upgraded is a well made cabinet brand. DuraSupreme makes some nice framed cabinets but I don’t like the company. We found that they didn’t honor their warrantees when we were dealers for them. And other dealers complained to the BBB about them which is unheard of. Colombia says nothing about how they are made on their site and I have never heard of them. So be careful.

      Why not call in to our podcast with your design ready to email and get some free expert help? You seem like you are on a bad path from this blog comment and from your email we received. Call 610-500-4071 2 to 4 pm Eastern Standard time on a Friday.

  5. VMF

    I’m curious if you have any insight into the Elmwood line (luxury version of Cabico?) My designer is specifying this line for a new build in South Carolina.

    Also, what are your thoughts on Decora ? Do you service the Abington/ Clarks Summit area ?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Vmf,
      Cabico is primarily a frameless line and is made in Canada. So for Slab door styles frameless lines make Cabico is a good choice. For all other door styles I would recomend the more durable framed construction. Decora is a framed line and so upgraded is a better constructed cabinet than Cabico. However it is less expensive so the finishes will not be as impressive as those on a higher priced custom line.

      Kitchen designers that prefer frameless lines tend to be more concerned with style and less with durability and function. I have found that almost always the better kitchen designers prefer framed cabinetry to frameless cabinetry.

  6. Nancy Carey

    I am interested in the Fabuwood Allure Galaxy Frost 36″ hood. The maximum size for a vent is 34 1/2″ x 13 3/4″. I have a 36′ gas Wolf range top that will be under it. Can you recommend a hood vent that will fit into that cabinet? I could only find the Trade-Wind I32366RC and the Prestige UIBC-600. I know nothing about these brands and was hoping you could recommend one for my need.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Nancy,
      If your ceilings are 96″ I think that the regular Fabuwood hoods will come down too low.

      Ventahood has shallow hoods that will work in the Fabuwood hood but will also need a replacement air system since they are over 400 CFM’s

      XO has a shallow hood that is 395 CFM’s.

      Let an appliance dealer and your kitchen designer help you coordinate the hood and the blower.

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