Creative Kitchens

Three local experts reveal the most popular design trends
By Nicole Kiefert

The kitchen is undoubtedly the hub of the house. From cooking meals to hosting parties, you want a place that’s as equally functional as it is beautiful. With kitchen remodels on the rise, we talk with three design specialists to discover the most popular trends of the new year.

Timeless Looks

Trying to create a classic, timeless kitchen design is a lot easier than it seems — just keep to neutral colors and clean lines. Stephanie Schiesser, assistant manager at Gerhard’s Kitchen & Bath Store’s Kenosha branch, says contrasting colors, such as black cabinetry with white countertops or light floors with a dark island, are a popular trend. “Also, quartz countertops that have that marble look, (which) will still be a classic staple I do not see dating,” she says.

Though designs by Joanna Gaines of “Fixer Upper” are considered “modern farmhouse,” Courtney Hengst, cabinetry sales and design specialist at Zuern Building Products, says clients are using a lot of Gaines’ designs and combinations for a classic kitchen. “The way (Gaines) combines natural wood tones with neutral colors like white, black and gray creates such a classic, timeless look,” Hengst says. She also encourages the use of clean lines to achieve a classic design look — but mixed with warm wood accents in islands, hutches or floating shelves. Hengst’s advice? Keep it as simple as possible when picking out cabinets, countertops and floors, but add creativity with details that are easier to change, like paint, lighting and décor.

If you’re hoping to stick with that modern farmhouse design scheme, one piece of lighting to consider is combining reclaimed wood with LED lamping, says Jennifer Maag, branch manager for Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Brookfield. If the farmhouse look isn’t for you, Maag also recommends using artisanal glass to bring together that classic look. “Fixtures with artisanal glass celebrate the time-honored technique of molding cut-glass into sophisticated shapes and exquisitely transparent forms,” she adds. “Although modern technology makes the process more efficient, each piece showcases a detailed application of skilled craftsmanship.”

Keeping the Tradition

Remodeling an old kitchen, but hoping to keep some of the historic charm? It might be as simple as swapping out kitchen faucets and knobs on cabinets and drawers. Schiesser recommends Kohler’s Artifacts Collection for a timeless look, and sticking to classic colors like gold and bronze in a matte finish.

Older homes commonly feature darker wood tones, so going with a medium- to darkstained floor will bring in that historic feel of an old home. Hengst, who hopes beautiful, traditional styles make a bigger comeback soon, also suggests elegant additions. “Glass doors and very ornate detail, like oversized decorative corbels and posts, would be incorporated into these designs,” she says.

Similar to restoring original floors, old or nostalgic lighting fixtures with updated technology can provide that historic feel with a modern effect. Maag suggests vintage-looking lights with today’s efficient LED bulbs. “Midcentury modern re-emerges as a dominant lighting trend, incorporating updates for the 21st century. Maintaining the futuristic simplicity of 1950s and 1960s design, fixtures are enhanced with energy efficient LED lamping, modern geometric forms and a mixture of materials” Maag explains. She also suggests incorporating crystal to bring in that elegant yet historic feel. “Today’s crystal expressions feature unexpectedly bold shapes like large rock, long rods and organically shaped droplets,” she continues. “The effect is instant glamour with lasting interest, thanks to various shapes, cuts and sizes that manipulate light to cast a wide array of dazzling prismatic colors.”

Make It Modern

There’s currently quite the range of popular contemporary styles, but experts agree that the most popular aspects of those designs, similar to classic kitchens, are clean lines with a unique factor. “Clean slab doors with a natural texture are very popular,” Schiesser says. “Integrating a contemporary look with natural characteristics, such as natural wood, is trending.”

If different textures aren’t for you, Hengst recommends adding pops of colors or patterns. “Another key concept with modern design is storage and organization solutions,” she says. “Many clients are looking for ways to incorporate pull-outs and custom shelving in their cabinetry to improve the functionality of their kitchen.”

To combine these two, consider turning an island, which offers extra storage and workspace, into a statement piece by changing the cabinetry color or countertops and adding decorative details. Hengst suggests decorative legs or an open bookshelf on the end for cookbooks or décor.

To pull the whole design together, incorporate lighting with sharp lines. “Featuring  sharp edges, acute angles and clean lines, the aptly named ‘IlluminAngles’ lighting trend describes fixtures that combine an open framework and vibrant light source to illuminate geometric silhouettes,” Maag says.

Hire a Professional

Kitchen remodels can be costly and timeintensive, so to guarantee you get what you want, Schiesser says to begin the process by selecting the items you have your heart set on. “My best advice is to start with one design trend that you must have and then build from there — whether it be a certain color of cabinet, flooring, countertop or backsplash,” she adds.

Once you pick out that feature, hire a professional to ensure the project is done correctly. “While it’s important to stick to a budget, your kitchen is the heart of the home,” Hengst says. “It is where you, your family and friends are going to spend the majority of your time. Get what you really want and get the materials that are going to last. Hire the right contractor, who will take care of you and handle the timeline of the project.” Kitchen remodels can be expensive, but with the stress of the project and the time it requires to complete, it may be worthwhile to hire out some professional help to get the kitchen of your dreams.

Be conscious of the fixtures you add to the final design. “Often called the jewelry of the home, lighting adds a beautiful finishing touch to a room, much like a vintage broach or special piece of jewelry completes the look of an outfit,” Maag says. While you want to be sure the lighting will add the right touches to the design you’re dreaming of, you also need to consider how the light source will impact the overall space.

Use Maag’s recommended “TADA” lighting method when picking out lighting fixtures: Task (lighting for tasks, such as writing, reading and cooking), accent (adding lighting for visual appeal as well as soft illumination), decorative (mostly for decoration and styling or to emphasize artwork on display), and ambient (setting the tone of the room with dimmers, recessed lighting and chandeliers).


About Zuern

Since 1953, Zuern Building Products, through the dedication of now well over 100 employees, has grown to be one of the largest independent, family-owned and operated lumber and building material suppliers in Wisconsin. With four expansive lumberyards with complete showrooms in AllentonCedarburgFranklin and Watertown, Wisconsin, the Zuern team provides traditional lumber, millworkwindowsdoors, and cabinet supplies for homeowners, builders, and remodelers across the greater Milwaukee area.