How About Some Color In That Kitchen?

We asked a noted trendspotter for some tips on bringing the most used room in the house out of the gray zone.

Copper and other metals help break the monotony of stainless steel in kitchen design, says Nancy Fire. | Photos via Nancy Fire

Stainless steel appliances and gray or black granite countertops are the center-hall Colonials of kitchen design: There’s just no escaping them, it seems, and once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

But unlike center-hall Colonials, we haven’t always had granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. They came into fashion a few years ago, and they can go back out of fashion too.

So what might take their place? We asked Nancy Fire, co-founder and creative director of New York-based Design Works International and design director at HGTV HOME, to share with us some of the insights she picked up on visits to this year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Orlando and a recent jaunt to Paris.

This Bertazzoni Italia range with a bright red metal front was one of the hits at this year’s KBIS.

First, the good news: Color is making a comeback in many forms. Especially bright and bold ones. “Red and stainless steel in both matte and glossy black are by far the most important appliance colors moving forward, with cobalt blue as a runner-up,” Fire says. “Homeowners are always looking for new and affordable updates to their home, so they are responding well to newness and creativity in home design.

“With so many awesome choices now for countertops and appliance colors, it’s a whole new designers’ world out there. Even if you’re not a professional, you still have many choices.”

Reclaimed wood gives this bar fridge character – and it’s also practical.

One trend she spotted involves mixing metals to add warmth and variety to a kitchen. Black matte-finished steel and copper pair together well and add a touch of the dramatic with them.

Countertop choices offer more room to experiment. Butcher block and reclaimed wood, popular for a while in the 1990s, are attractive, practical and eco-friendly. “Practicality does not always win out,” Fire cautions, “but there are so many great substrates today to use instead of wood, like quartz, laminate, marble, polished or honed granite, stainless steel, glass, recycled materials like terrazzo, concrete, soapstone, travertine and tile.”

This Thermador Freedom Kitchen fridge was fitted with floral panels: “It might not be for everyone, but it was a true showstopper,” says Fire.

For a real burst of color, though, professionals are turning to floral and botanical patterns. “Florals are one of the biggest trends in home design today because of the influence of de Gournay in both fashion and interior collaborations,” she says. The French wallpaper designer’s influence is evident in both kitchen and bathroom design.

Your local design pro can help you mix and match these trends to create a kitchen that blows that gray-and-white look away.