Bold, Monochromatic, and Patterned

Bold, Monochromatic, and Patterned


Bold colors and patterns dominate this kitchen by Andra Birkerts of Andra Birkerts Design.

Today’s trends in kitchen design make brash statements.

For years, white kitchens have reigned supreme. It’s easy to see why. They’re clean, bright, and tasteful; they’ll always be classic. But there’s a new kind of style on the block, and it’s closing in on the standing champ. We’re talking big and bold. Rich color and vibrant pattern, affecting nearly surface in the space, from cabinets and backsplashes to walls and floors. This trend is rising fast, and it’s bringing a whole new level of excitement to the hardest working room in the house.

Trends in home decor often mirror those in fashion, and this one is no exception. So if you want to know what’s hot, just take a look in your closet. Chances are you’ve picked up some clothes in jewel tones lately: deep teals, dusky plums, or rich emeralds. And probably some pastels, too, maybe a minty green, creamy yellow, or sky blue. Redo your cabinets in any one of these shades, and you’ll end up with a look that’s both lively and fresh.
Feeling a bit more monochromatic? Black cabinetry is also on point and gives a space a modern, crisp vibe. Be wary of using it on both top and bottom cabinets, though. It tends to work better with open shelving and pairs divinely with natural wood tones.

Black also mixes beautifully with pattern, and the hippest way to get that is with encaustic tile. Fashioned from concrete, it brings a burst of color and pattern to floors and backsplashes alike. Unlike standard tile, which gets its look from the glaze, the patterns on encaustic tile are produced using different colors of clay. This makes it particularly durable, as its markings do not fade as the tile is worn down. That concrete is really heavy though, so be sure your floor or walls can support the load.

If you’re keen on pattern but not quite ready to commit to a permanent installation, try a rug. Not just a little scatter rug, either. Ante up for a proper one, with a real density of color and a flat weave. A kilim or a well-worn Persian would work beautifully. Both styles wear like iron and would lend your kitchen a real air of refinement.
Another way to add a note of sophistication? Try a bit of brass. It’s back in a big way, on everything from handles and faucets to fume hoods and light fixtures. But make no mistake: This isn’t that shiny yellow metal of 1980s fame. What you want is the unlacquered type. Its tones will mellow over time, developing a warm and gentle patina that’s the epitome of luxe.

If all this seems a bit daunting, just remember: Though the kitchen has unique needs in terms of utility, there’s no need for it to feel utilitarian. So hang art on the walls, curate a display on the shelves, incorporate textiles and color. In short, create a room that feels like the rest of your home. You’ll end up with a space that is warm and personal, one that makes you happy every time you use it. And happy will always be in fashion.


Sarah Coombs is an interior designer based in Alameda.

This article appears in the September 2014 issue of Oakland Magazine
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