The fridge that produces a shopping list, the illusion sink and multiple shades of grey. We report on the latest trends.
Sssshh . . . however much money you’ve spent on your kitchen or however proud you are of its cool gadgets, keep it quiet. Stealth is the word. Kitchens are messy, noisy places, but they must also slink into the background when not needed. If, over this bank holiday weekend, you are considering a kitchen makeover, here is the lowdown on this and other top trends.
Magnet, the kitchen giant, has launched several stealth features ideal for those seeking a clean, sleek look or for people who need to be ultra tidy because space is limited. Cabinet Plus, from £270, is a motorised storage space concealed at the back of a wall unit that drops down at the push of a button.
The Illusion Sink, from £895.83, disappears when not in use. Push down the tap and slide over the panel and you have extra work surface. Magnet has also worked with Opalum, a wi-fi sound system specialist, to create a sound bar (£538) that fits into the plinth and bounces sound off the floor.
Hiding the entire kitchen is something many people want now that living and cooking areas are integrated. Andrew Hall,
the managing director and chief designer at Woodstock Furniture, a bespoke furniture-maker, says: “The idea of hiding a kitchen, such as putting ovens behind sliding doors with a decorative finish, to create a panelled living room effect, is in vogue.”
A key area for smart technology to expand beyond thermostats is in the kitchen. John Lewis has constructed a 1,000 sq ft smart home in its Oxford Street, London store to demonstrate how technology could work in your home.
The John Lewis smart home includes a range of products that can be controlled from a phone or tablet, including: the AEG ProCombi Plus smart oven, £1,499 (which launches in July), with an in-built oven camera that lets you monitor the roast from your phone; the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator, £4,499 (launches in June), a fridge with a touchscreen that helps you to manage food stocks, alerts you to use-by dates and offers recipe inspiration; the snappily named Samsung WW10H9600EW washing machine, £1,399, that enables you to run a wash from your phone with updates on energy expenditure and detergent use; and the Nespresso Prodigio coffee machine, from £159.95, the modern-day equivalent of a Teasmade that also tells you when to order more coffee pods.
Go grey . . . and blue
Forget 50, there are even more shades of grey when it comes to kitchens. Bridget Pavitt, an assistant buyer at John Lewis, says: “All shades of grey, whether it is a classic or contemporary kitchen, are popular.” The company has also launched a range of concrete-effect kitchen doors, which are perfect for creating an industrial look.
Gerald Jones, the managing director of Masterclass, a kitchen manufacturer, says: “Light grey is without doubt the vogue colour — it has taken the kitchen industry by storm. With our new launches we wanted to build a meaningful palette around that grey.” This has included incorporating blue tones and woods that complement grey.
“There is a shift from using bold colours in the kitchen to more neutral and muted tones such as soft greys and sea greens,” says Clotilde Passalacqua, the interior-design leader at Ikea UK and Ireland. Adding accents is popular: “Colour and patterned doors mixed on neutral frames to create a mix-match effect or a statement look will be big this year.”
Boffi, the upmarket kitchen manufacturer, has launched a range of metallic finishes for kitchen cabinets. Steven Salt, the managing director, says: “The trend towards metallic has been building, with metallic detailing and effects popular. Metal can be quite delicate, though, so we have created some beautiful, practical, metallic door finishes using lacquers. We are also launching Durinox, a satin stainless steel for use on worktops and doors, in the UK within the next year.”
Pavitt says that metallics are also in demand with John Lewis customers. “Our metallic-effect, copper and bronze, high-gloss feature doors are really quite stunning.”
Meanwhile, the worktop manufacturer Cosentino has launched Dekton Trilium — “inspired by the look of aged stainless steel” (from £450 per sq m).
Passalacqua says: “Customers with modern high-gloss kitchens are adding touches of bronze, copper and gold with accessories.” Meanwhile, Hall has noticed a subtle metallic effect with antique mirror splashbacks.
Wooden kitchen units have always been popular, but they are being given a modern twist. For Salt’s customers, having something different from the neighbours is important.
“We have a fossilised oak that is 2,000-year-old timber which has sat at the bottom of a river bed where the minerals have reacted with the wood to create unique variations in the grain,” Salt says.
Jones says walnut accents inside shelving and units work well with a grey kitchen palette: “It brings cold products to life. We are definitely seeing a revival of wooden drawers. Particularlyin classic kitchens, people want to see wood inside the drawers as well as on the outside.”
Passalacqua says: “One of the key natural materials for which we’ve seen interest grow is bamboo and over the next year people will see much more of it in our kitchens and dining range.”
Pale and thin
Work surfaces are getting thinner, according to Pavitt. “Very thin worktops are popular and there has been a big swing in the past year from dark to light.” Jones says it is all about extremes: “Worktops need to be very something, whether that is very thick or very thin. The important thing is that it feels how it looks, so if it is natural timber then it should be 60mm thick, and if it is travertine then 12mm. And the texture must be exaggerated, so if it is timber it must feel like timber and stone must be smooth.”
Steam ovens, induction hobs, wine fridges and plate-warming drawers have made the transition from professional kitchens into our homes. Now it is the turn of sous vide — a technique in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags and slowly cooked in a water or steam bath. Miele is launching a Sous Vide Vacuum Sealing Drawer next month (£2,099) — once sealed, the food is cooked in the steam oven on a sous-vide programme.
Hall says that men are making more design decisions in the kitchen, with his male clients “drawn to appliances with the ‘wow factor’, from a professional-style bank of appliances to gadgets such as boiling-water taps, for a more masculine finish” and dedicated bar areas.
Jones adds that large banks of appliances mean that kitchen islands are inevitable, to make up for the lost work space.