Open kitchens remain overwhelmingly popular, according to area experts, and no one predicts any change on the horizon.
“The kitchen has become the gathering place for family and friends, and an open concept gives more space for gathering,” says Erin Hurst of French’s Cabinet Gallery, Inc. “If space permits, a secondary catering kitchen or butler’s pantry is added.”
Kate Fudim of Beth Haley Designs agrees, saying, “Open concept and dedicated pantries have totally changed kitchen design as they both require and allow the kitchen to flow seamlessly with the overall design of the home.”
Most open kitchens have seating for dining at an island in the kitchen and a separate dining area elsewhere, though not all homes have a formal dining area attached to the kitchen, says Sara Ray of Sara Ray Interior Design. “Open kitchens are likely to remain popular, as people are enjoying their living space and food prep space overlapping.
Many of the people she works with seem to prefer one dining space and that in the kitchen, according to Bohnne Jones of Decorating Den Interiors. “I’ve noticed that in upper end homes there is often a ‘pretty’ kitchen and tucked away is a ‘working’ kitchen. It’s a great way to approach entertaining,” says Jones.
Reporting that open floor plans remain popular with her clients, Jessica Johnson of Kole Custom Homes, says the pantry is becoming an evolving space that piggy backs into the kitchen. She adds she’s noted a decline in the use of formal dining space and an increase in island seating and breakfast room areas off the kitchen.
According to Sharon Hicks of Carriage House Custom Homes and Interiors, Inc., “The open kitchen is here to stay especially in contemporary design. More decorative pantries are becoming part of the kitchen for storage, appliances, and work spaces. Most families want one main dining space; however, depending on family and entertaining needs, another space is sometimes desired but often this can be part of an outside area or more relaxed area—not so much a formal dining room.”
In agreement is Jessica Davis of JL Design. “The open kitchen trend is here to stay. Families do not like to feel separated from the rest of the home, and most people gravitate to the kitchen, so this trend works and makes sense for most home owners.” In addition, Davis says, “Most new home builds that we are seeing are introducing ‘working pantries’ when space allows. I believe this makes the open kitchen trend more functional for most homeowners.”
The “working pantry” often offers a secondary prep sink, a secondary dish washer, an apartment size refrigerator, and storage for small appliances, Davis says. “The idea is to have the extra stock and prep out of view of guests and maximize kitchen storage space,” Davis says.
Dana Tucker of Bella Tucker Decorative Finishes says storage is always the number two concern when designing a kitchen, once aesthetics are in line. “People ask for open shelving, but when we talk through the practicality of function, organization, and cleanliness, they usually go for closed storage,” she says.
Davis reports that open shelving works well when space is limited (for example no room for a door to swing or for a standard cabinet depth). “Otherwise, open shelves are encouraged when primary storage has been addressed and then the shelves are primarily for aesthetic value,” she said.
Reporting that homeowners like their storage space, Jess Phillips of Build Nashville says her company tries to provide as much storage as possible. “Open shelves are also popular,” she says.
Jennifer Jones of Jennifer Jones Design Inc. says a second pantry for food products and small appliances and serving pieces is a great addition to any kitchen that can accommodate it. “I don’t design open shelves due to dust accumulating on the dishes,” she says.
In agreement is Hicks, who says open shelves are very popular if there is enough space for other storage. “However, some people favor open shelves for storage of nice items. Everyone wants to make good use of the space available.”
Johnson says open shelving isn’t as popular in main kitchen areas, due to storage constraints. “There is a growing trend for working pantries or ‘dirty’ kitchens that can have areas for open shelving.”
Reporting that open shelves are great in display kitchens, Jones says that for practical reasons she rarely recommends them except for plants near a window.
Ray says her clients are navigating away from having only open shelving with no upper cabinets. “Open shelving is still popular, but we are seeing it more mixed with some open shelves and some upper cabinets dispersed throughout the kitchen.”
Commenting on the drawback of open shelving, Barbara French of French’s Cabinet Gallery says, “their popularity is waning with our clients. I knew it would be a short-lived trend when people realized they would have to dust their dishes!”
Hurst adds that she recommends drawers versus pull-out trays because they require one less step to open.
In contrast, Melinda Calvert of Dream Kitchen and Bath says her clients favor open shelving—”and I have to agree. Open shelving adds a way to break up the cabinetry and display items that are important to the client. I plan storage depending on the needs of the client and we use every inch of space.”
her clients typically prioritize storage, Fudim says clients with larger kitchens incorporate open shelving as a design accent. “Dedicated pantries have freed kitchen design of some of the burden to store items.”
Debbie Brandon of 84 Lumber reports that storage is an important concern in large and small kitchens. “One current trend is a separate pantry for food, large appliances, and even an additional refrigerator. It actually opens up the space for more glass-in-wall cabinets or no wall cabinets at all,” she says. “I think the open kitchen-dining room is going to be with us for good. Most people want a broad, bright space that is pleasing to the eye with no place for clutter to accumulate.”
While many kitchen experts say white is still the color of choice for many clients, some do report color is finding its way into the kitchen.
“We’ve seen a big move toward painted cabinets, either as an accent island or throughout,” says Fudim. She reports seeing blues and greys, both as lower cabinets and on islands.
French says that while white remains a popular cabinet color there are a plethora of choices in the contemporary laminates. Hurst adds that navy is a popular island color.
Reporting a trend toward wood tones with white and black accents is Phillips, often combined with slab doors and modern looks.
Renee Hytry of the Formica Corporation reports that raw, bleached woods are the new white, as Scandi-influenced modern cabinetry and countertops blend ‘clean’ with the warmth of wood. “This gives a cozier modern feel influenced by Hygge.”
“White and light gray shaker kitchens with a small bead in the shaker doors are most popular right now,” says Calvert. “Most clients want to lighten everything up. I am starting to see a trend using more color options on cabinets or pops of color. One thing clients have to understand about this is that it usually increases the price dramatically because it would be a custom color. If cost is a factor I usually suggest keeping cabinets more neutral and using pops of color on the backsplash.”
Ray says she is seeing more cabinetry painted in shades of blue and green, and adds that light colored stains have been more popular recently. “Neutral paint colors have remained popular, and we are continuing to see different colors or finishes for upper and lower cabinets or islands.”
“I’m moving away from the ‘different color’ look,” says Jones. “We’re moving away from the all white kitchen. It’s time to see more color in the home, and the kitchen is no exception. I predict more wood finishes, while painted finishes will still be popular—just less white.”
Hicks says lots of new colors are the trend. “Blues are especially popular right now. We’re seeing warmer tones and are moving away from the greys. We are seeing uppers and lowers as well as perimeters and islands being differentiated with different finishes such as paint in one area and wood stain in another.”
Natural wood tones paired with painted cabinets, textured lighting, and mixed metals is the trend, according to Tucker. “I’m seeing mostly creamy whites for cabinets. Most kitchens can handle a tuxedo look with different colors on the tops and bottoms,” she reports.
Davis says, “Color is back in a big way and we are thrilled! Clients are embracing a lot of blue lately, but we are seeing greens, fuchsias, deep reds, and egg plant as well, which we are totally excited about! Homeowners are warming up to base cabinets and upper cabinets being different colors, and we encourage this in the right space.”
There are a number of sources for kitchens in the Nashvlle area including:
84 Lumber 615/ 264-8499 La Vergne 615/ 287-0184 Murfreesboro 615/ 849-3777
Bella Tucker Decorative Finishes Franklin 615/ 500-1517
Beth Haley Design Nashville 615/ 228-3664
Build Nashville Nashville 615/ 542-5702
Cabinet Makeovers Nashville 615/ 331-7010
Carriage House Custom Homes and Interiors, Inc. Franklin 615/ 224-3545
Consentino North America La Vergne 615/ 487-8406
Decorating Den Interiors Nashville 615/ 469-7334
Dream Kitchen and Bath Hendersonville 615/ 445-0087
Elite Installation & Design Hendersonville 615) 264-9370
Formica Corporation New York 651-247-5502
French’s Cabinet Gallery Brentwood 615/ 371-8385
Jennifer Jones Design Inc. Nashville 61/ 354-8907
JL Design Nashville 615/ 321-1888
Kole Custom Homes Franklin 615/ 653-5787
Sara Ray Interior Design Nashville 615/ 254-6329
Southeastern Salvage Home Emporium Nashville 615/ 244-1001