What do homeowners want out of their kitchens in 2021? The 2021 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study asks that exact question, and the answers may surprise you. Overwhelmingly, homeowners are choosing practicality over grand design schemes and aesthetics.
For example, some of the most desired features are extra storage, modern accessories like new kitchen blinds and curtains, built-in organization, and spacious kitchen islands.
Another important thing for homeowners to remember is that relatively small changes go a long way. “Major renovations aren’t the only way homeowners can make a space their own and create an escape while stuck at home because of the pandemic. Smaller changes can make a big difference,” The Seattle Times writes.
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania couple Jocelyn and Pete Lockard plan to make renovations that will make their home more welcoming and comfortable for them to enjoy over the next 10 years. Plus, their plans include completing kitchen improvements and bathroom renovations that will improve their home’s resale value. The improvements will be reasonable, financially feasible, and will likely include new paint and a new soaking tub.
Draw inspiration from Houzz’s recent survey and couples like the Lockards. Start with these attainable and practical kitchen improvement tips. Even these practical changes often yield big results.
Create a Designated Space for Meal Preparation
Most Americans prefer home-cooked meals. In fact, as many as 98% favor meals made in their kitchen. However, a cramped kitchen or lack of counter space can make meal planning difficult. There is a better way. Prioritize meal preparation when tackling kitchen improvement tips. Here are some ways to make your kitchen better-suited for regular cooking.
Free up counter space by getting creative
Use hooks, pot racks, and wall-mounted hanging racks to conserve space. These fixtures provide vertical storage rather than requiring a countertop utensil holder. You can also install a built-in cutting board that pulls out like a drawer to create additional prep space in your kitchen.
Move kitchen appliances
It is becoming increasingly common to tuck away small appliances under kitchen islands. If you need more space for meal prep, embrace this trend. Install dishwashers and microwaves directly into kitchen islands to free up more room on countertops. This hack is a popular space-saving option in 2021. In fact, “More than half of newly added or upgraded [kitchen] islands feature a new appliance (55%),” Atlanta Agent Magazine writes.
Make sure your refrigerator is in good working order
Your refrigerator is a great boon to meal preparation. Preparing meals without one or settling for a refrigerator that the only kind of works can severely limit your options in the kitchen. Some kitchen improvement tips are the most obvious ones. Invest in refrigerator repair, and do it sooner rather than later. If you decide to do it independently, read your owner’s manual before doing any repair work. Schedule repair if your food spoils faster than it should, if you see excessive condensation in or around your fridge, if your fridge is leaking, or if parts of your freezer are frosting over.
Choose a large sink
Large, farmhouse-style sinks help considerably with food preparation. These sinks are large enough to rinse, peel, and drain large amounts of fruits and veggies directly in the sink. There are cutting boards you can purchase to fit securely over half of the sink to give you more room as well.
The best kitchen improvement tips are the most practical. Take full advantage of the vertical space, kitchen islands, and the space in and on top of your sink.
Keep Healthy Snacks Handy and Displayed Aesthetically
For a kitchen that is both utilitarian and beautiful, focus on kitchen improvement tips that check multiple boxes. For example, Houzz’s 2021 Kitchen Trends survey reveals that most homeowners want more storage and built-in organization. With the right kitchen display, you can accomplish both. To increase storage and keep your kitchen as organized as possible, consider investing in open shelving.
Open shelving gives you the ability to take full advantage of every wall, nook, and cranny and to maximize your use of vertical space. These shelves make plates, dishes, and bowls, and food items more accessible while cooking, and they cost markedly less than traditional cabinetry.
Adding shelving will increase the storage available in your kitchen, so what about keeping these spaces organized and appealing to the eye? For well-organized open shelving:
- Put seldomly used items on top and keep more frequently used items on bottom shelves. Top shelves — especially top shelves close to the ceiling — are best for large, decorative items and/or items that you rarely use.
- Use a step stool or ladder to put them up there while knowing that it may very well be a long time until you retrieve them again. Reserve lower, more accessible shelves for items that you use every day or close to it. Think frequently used dishes, utensils, or food items.
- Whenever possible, strike a balance.
- Use attractive jars, canisters, and food storage containers. The packages that rice, pasta, grains, cereal, and other non-perishable foodstuffs come in are not particularly pleasing to the eye.
- Remove items from their original containers and invest in airtight jars, canisters, and food storage containers instead.
- Choose containers that match. Some containers come with labels already printed on them. You can customize these labels with gel pens or chalk. For containers that do not come with labels, invest in a label maker or choose transparent containers so you can see what is inside.
- Have children who wear braces? Keep your healthy, go-to snacks for your kiddos easily within reach. For example, keep jars or containers filled with nuts, roasted chickpeas, granola, oats, yogurt bites, and veggie chips on bottom shelves. That way, your children can snack on healthy foods without continually asking for your help.
Add Unique Rugs and Table Liners
For budget-friendly kitchen improvement tips, pay close attention to accents and accessories.
All-white kitchens and kitchens with a lot of natural light are particularly trendy right now. While these color schemes make rooms appear more open and spacious, they can also feel impersonal and cold. Add warmth and charm to your kitchen with one-of-a-kind rugs and table liners.
“If your kitchen seems a little too much like a workspace, a soft, tactile rug can help it feel more like a welcoming part of the home, especially if you have rugs or carpeting in adjacent rooms,” Houzz writes. For rugs that look truly unique, choose antique or second-hand rugs for extra character. If you find a rug that looks just about perfect with some minor physical flaws, like slight fading or a small, frayed portion, don’t give up on it altogether. Antique rug restoration can make a tired old rug look like new.
Use rugs to add drama, warmth, and comfort. If your kitchen is mostly white or pale, understated color, a statement rug can bring a lot of personality to the room. Purchase soft, cushy runners if you spend a lot of time preparing meals, washing dishes, or standing in the kitchen. These runners can add color and style while providing vital foot support.
Another way to introduce more color and personality into your kitchen is to strategically use table liners or table runners. These accents are inexpensive, but they can make the room pop if you use them right. Draw the eye to your kitchen table with a long, lengthwise table runner, or mix things up with two or three shorter table runners to accentuate the width. Tailor your table runner to your tastes. You can find table runners in solid colors, table runners with modern, geometric patterns, or table runners with ornate swirls and curves.
Grow an Indoor Herb Garden
One of the best kitchen improvement tips is to bring some of the outdoors in. Plants liven up any room, improve air quality, and may even improve your mood.
If garden care is one of your passions, plant an indoor herb garden inside your kitchen. Your herb garden will be multifunctional. It will add personality to the room, make your kitchen smell better, and it will provide you with common herbs you need while cooking.
If you want the staples readily at your disposal, plant basil, mint, parsley, chives, oregano, cilantro, and/or rosemary.
Choose an herb garden that meets your practical and aesthetic needs. For example, if you are working with limited counter space, use the window to plant your herb garden. Line the window sill with a long, rectangular planter, or line up individual pots, mason jars, or small containers to plant herbs separately. Choose materials that complement the window. If you have custom wood windows, choose wood planters or small, neutral-colored flower pots.
Make Room For Natural Light
For kitchen improvement tips that make all the difference, explore tips that introduce more natural light. The possibilities include:
- Creating a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. Homeowners are, overwhelmingly, turning toward more outdoor living. They are spending more time on decks, porches, and patio areas. As such, having the capability to open up doors in the kitchen directly to the dining area outside is convenient and desirable. Talk to a local contractor about sliding glass door installation in your kitchen. Ask about the practicality of adding sliding glass doors in your home and the estimated costs associated with the installation.
- Select window treatments that let plenty of natural light in. Curtains, drapes, and blinds can block out natural sunlight, leaving your room feeling stuffy and dark. Choose light filtering curtains for window treatments that allow natural light in while preventing glares and allowing for adequate privacy. Another option is to purchase decorative window films. These films can be installed directly onto your windows. They obscure the view and let in plenty of sun.
- Buy mirrors for your kitchen and arrange them with care. Mirrors reflect natural light and maximize the amount of natural light in the room. “Metallic, glass and mirrored accessories can all help to make the most of the light available and add stylish touches throughout the home,” House Beautiful writes.
Set Up a Small Recycling System
Once again, the best kitchen improvement tips aren’t confined to aesthetics. Feel better inside your home by setting up a small recycling system.
A customized recycling program can open up options. Some customized recycling programs are programs that simply enable customers to pick and choose what materials they most commonly recycled. For example, it can be difficult to recycle scrap metal using traditional, city-run recycling programs. A customized program can help you do just that — or recycle any other less common materials you frequently use in your home.
In other cases, customized programs offer even more. For example, some non-traditional recycling programs offer added incentives for recycling and use recycled materials for specific purposes — often ones they will share with you.
Of course, some recycling practices and green practices take place on a much smaller scale. Together, they still make a considerable impact. Reuse containers. Complete crafts using recycled materials. Purchase smart appliances, and control them using a central console and/or mobile application. With smart appliances, you can control lights, temperatures, and dishwashers from afar, using only the energy you need. Secure your smart home system with data security or access control systems.
Look to Online Trends for Style Inspiration
What are the best kitchen improvement tips? Sometimes, the best way to get inspired is to look for ideas on social media.
Social media shows you what changes people have already made inside their homes. Ideally, follow influencers and social media personalities who display authenticity, honesty, and vulnerability. That way, you will be able to trust their reviews or accounts of undergoing certain kitchen renovations, like painting or installing new appliances, cabinets, or kitchen islands.
Look out for people peddling products or sponsored by certain brand names or institutions. In many cases, they will disclose sponsorships or recommend one particular brand over and over again.
We spend a great deal of time in our kitchens. That makes it one of the most popular rooms to renovate. Choose renovations and improvements that may improve aesthetics or add personality to your home, but ultimately favor the ones that are useful, practical, and will add value for years to come.
- About the Author
Alex Grigoryan is a Professional Home Improvement and Lifestyle Writer. He has been in the industry for over 6 years and has been writing for Chique Home Living since 2019. His work has been featured in prestigious blogs such as Spruce Home, Better Homes & Garden, and more.