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Fun & Functional Kitchen Design Trends for 2021

The kitchen has always been one of the hardest working rooms in any home. It’s where we cook, where we gather, and where we work on homework or pay bills. In short, the kitchen really is the heart of the household! And after a year spent close to home, it’s no surprise that people are starting to think about the kitchen in a whole new way. 

In a 2020 poll, 13 percent of people said that updating or expanding their kitchen was a post-COVID priority; another 13 percent said that an updated kitchen was high on their list of “must-haves” in their next home.

But what kitchen design trends should buyers and sellers be looking for in 2021? Here are just a few of the big things that designers and home experts predict will be coming to kitchens here in Chicagoland and across the country in the year ahead:

Indoor/Outdoor Living

More time at home caused many people to reflect on the incredible importance of the Great Outdoors — including in the kitchen. According to the 2021 U.S. Kitchen Trend Survey from Houzz — brought to our attention by Real Simple — one in five homeowners has plans to open up their kitchen to their patio, deck, or backyard in the near future. 

Consumer trends back this up, with gigantic surges on Google for search terms like “outdoor fire pit,” “backyard bar,” and “small-space outdoor furniture” over the last several months. 

Looking for a little inspiration? Check out our guides to designing the perfect outdoor kitchen and sitting area. 

Easy, Breezy Minimalism

2021 could be the year when people say goodbye to cluttered kitchens for good. That means fewer knick-knacks and appliances left on counters, and more streamlined and minimalist spaces. It also means fewer unnecessary design flourishes all around! Design experts expect to see less emphasis on ornate cabinet handles and busy design in favor of simplicity with elements like “slab-style cabinet doors and simple pulls,” according to Forbes. One big factor driving this trend? These simple surfaces are a lot easier to clean and disinfect — a big plus after a year spent wiping down countertops and touchpoints on a daily basis. 

More Storage and Functionality

In line with simplicity and minimalism, design experts anticipate a big push for functionality in the months and years ahead. With more people than ever cooking and cleaning in the kitchen each day, look out for functional upgrades and trends to take precedent during renovations. 

Say goodbye to open shelving and hello to closed cabinets and large, separate pantries. Nearly one-third of all people who renovated their kitchens in 2020 added more cabinets; 13 percent added a new walk-in pantry. 

Experts also expect other big design pushes aimed at functionality to take root, including more outlets, higher backsplashes, larger sink basins, easy to clean vinyl flooring, and even a push for more enclosed kitchens. 

Bold Colors and Patterns

While our kitchens are becoming even more efficient and functional, many people are also using this important space to show off their personality and add a little bit of flair. Expect less emphasis on monochrome palettes of gray, black, and white in the kitchen in the months ahead, and a more playful use of color — including blue and green cabinetry, contrasting kitchen islands, and fun-yet-functional decor pieces like colorful non-slip rugs. 

Smart Fixtures and Appliances

Smart home appliances have been gaining in popularity for some time now. In a survey, half of people polled said that they would buy a home with smart home tech included over an identical home without smart features. Shelter-at-home orders in 2020 only highlighted the importance of technology on the home front, with more than half of all U.S. adults telling Pew Research Center that the internet has been “essential” to them personally during the pandemic. 

So, how are we going to see this play out in the kitchen? A year of washing dishes and cooking meals really shines a spotlight on the old adage, “work smarter, not harder.” Insider notes that people are looking to invest more into high-quality appliances in 2021; data from Houzz suggests that more than half of upgraded faucets and nearly one-third of upgraded appliances feature smart, “high-tech” features. 

Ready to Move Forward With Your Real Estate Goals? We’re Here for You

Whatever your real estate goals may be in 2021, we get you. The professionals at Baird & Warner, Key Mortgage, and Baird & Warner Title Services are here to help homebuyers and sellers achieve their biggest real estate goals, while making the process easier at every step of the way. 

Whether you’re buying or selling, you can count on our One-Stop Shop to work together and give you an easier experience from beginning to end. Just starting out as a buyer? Your Key Mortgage loan officer can help you get an airtight preapproval, so you can move forward with peace of mind. Think you’ve found the right house? Baird & Warner Title Services will do what it takes to help you make an offer and close with confidence. Getting ready to sell and not sure where to start? Our residential real estate brokers can help connect you with Curbio, which offers expert presale renovation services that make it easier to get a home updated quickly and affordably before it’s listed.

While it’s hardly business as usual, we know that the Chicagoland real estate market is still strong. The market is moving — and if you’re ready, you can too.