The Year of the Kitchen

Four looks worth a redo

Site Staff Home & Design 0 Comments


Surely every day a fed-up homeowner utters this brazen statement: “This is the year we redo the kitchen!” Then, the universe laughs. Years come and go under life’s daily demands while the room responsible for all matters of sustenance suffers neglect.

Tempting enhancements on the kitchen trend horizon endeavor to change all that. This could be your year.

“Integration of appliances, that’s the new thing,” says Benjamin Sullivan of Kitchen, Bath & Closets of Palm Springs (KBC). Where once a fridge with custom millwork to match the cabinets was all the rage, no one today wants to see the fridge at all. Stealthy barelythere appliances, integrated handles, compact built-in wine coolers, and easy-access microwave drawers join hidden plug strips and under-counter lights, bold uses of color, and exotic tiles in gold leaf, silver leaf, and mother-of-pearl.

These trends, says Sullivan, work in any of these four looks.


Original clerestory windows shed light on this new look in midcentury kitchens.


The New Midcentury:

A playful backsplash meets floating storage

THE CONCEPT: Take inspiration from a blue bar cart and wooden Nelson clock to fashion a high-energy kitchen for two midcentury-modern collectors. As many Alexander homes, this one in Twin Palms was closed off from the home’s flow. The existing terrazzo floors provided a sleek and glossy canvas. “They wanted an open kitchen where they could entertain and hang out,” says Sullivan. “A space where they could bring in to-go food and make it look like they cooked it.”

THE DETAILS: Walnut veneer wood and upper cabinets in baby blue paint tie into the bar cart and clock. The custom patterned backsplash of glass tile in orange, brown, and blue tones is lively. Clever additions include floating walnut shelves that invite a changing display of mod collectibles and a hidden plug-strip beneath the island so these tech-company execs can power up and work. The floating cabinets wrap around to create an entry table. “You don’t have an actual entryway in the Alexanders,” Sullivan says. “This floating piece creates an entry table with storage below it next to the front door. On the kitchen side, it holds a microwave drawer, with a surface above that can double as a bar or serving buffet.”


A retro pattern in waterjet glass tile adds movement. The look of wood calms in a Zen-style kitchen.


The New Zen:

Wood tones, minty glass, and white quartz

THE CONCEPT: Retire a 1980s kitchen for an updated space where guests can circulate. For the new kitchen, KBC removed a bay window wall and pushed the house out two feet. A Fleetwood slider system opens out to a tiki hut bar.

THE DETAILS: PentalQuartz countertops in Calcutta stretch across two full walls of prepping, serving, and storage space and over the jumbo, 13-foot island. Small appliances disappear behind two linear cabinets, while a Miele espresso maker and Wolf microwave drawer integrate into the design. Silver-gray floors in a travertine-type material make a natural choice with structured laminate cabinets that look and feel like wood. A pot filler above the 48-inch Wolf range mounts on a backsplash tile called Kiss My Big Fat Glass. A slight mint green tone in the glass picks up the iridescent tones in the client’s pendant lamps.


A black stain looks sleek.


The New Contemporary:

Two-tone contrast in dark wood and sky blue  

THE CONCEPT: A Spanish-style Indian Wells home goes cool and contemporary. While living in London, the client fancied the look of modern kitchens in older houses. “They liked the idea of midcentury, but not as flamboyant,” Sullivan says. “We needed to keep the flooring and brighten the space.”

THE DETAILS: Integrated handles built into lower cabinets remove the need for hardware in this clean, modern look. Engineered wood veneer in a dark black midnight stain contrasts with a blue thermofoil on the uppers. The client chose IceStone countertops (a recycled product of glass and concrete that Sullivan calls “one of the greenest on the market”) paired with linear, white milk glass tile in varying lengths for the backsplash. Above the sink, KBC doubled the size of the window to let in light. “Now the blue from the swimming pool reflects into the space.”


Discreetly designed appliances support the neutral palette that’s consistent between the preparation and dining areas, which offer options for intimate or larger gatherings.


The New Neutral:

Gray + green = the new white

THE CONCEPT: “Mykonos is their favorite place on Earth and the homeowners wanted to reflect a Mykonos vibe,” says Sullivan, who designed the kitchen as part of a whole-house redo. “They stay at the same mid-’60s-vibe hotel in Mykonos that I do, so we were on the same page.”

THE DETAILS: Rift-cut oak with a gray stain creates a solid foundation; cabinets in a subtle green glass offer a cool, watery opaqueness above. Together they create a neutral scheme that trumps white any day. Round tiles of the Carrara marble backsplash capture lighter gray tones, while the adjacent open living and dining areas pick up the kitchen’s hues for full cohesion. An integrated pantry sits to the right of the hidden Thermador fridge; cabinets below the window hide a dishwasher behind an integrated panel. For serving or sitting, the two-person bar in PentalQuartz is just the right size.

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