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metricon coastal kitchen with vj panel cabinets and glass window splashback

2021 Kitchen Design Trends Revealed: The 10 Biggest Changes Landing Now

Many of you are knee-deep in figuring out what you want from your upcoming kitchen reno. And I know it can be overwhelming trying to decide on all the right fittings and fixtures. You want it to look amazing, function well, and not date, right? Well, I’ve got you covered today as I delve into the 2021 kitchen design trends landing right now that’ll stick around for years to come.

These kitchen trends are hot off the press from a recent kitchen design trends masterclass I hosted for Metricon Homes. It was a webinar masterclass (thanks Covid) but I still got to chat to the experts in design; Metricon’s design manager Ricky D’Alessio and senior interior designer Jacinta Evans.

Let’s not waste another minute getting you across what’s on-trend in the kitchen space for 2021. And if you want more kitchen inspiration after you read through this, check out Metricon’s gallery of stunning kitchen imagery here.

metricon kitchen with cooktop in island and light timber upper cabinets

1. Interactive, Entertaining Zones

Spatial planning is crucial when designing your kitchen; you’ll want to try and make this space as large and interactive as possible. In years gone by kitchens were more about function, whereas now they’re seen as a place to gather and socialise. That means the kitchen becomes more of a design moment, and all the work gets done in the butler’s pantry.

Five ways to make your kitchen more interactive include:

  • Installing a cooktop in your island so you can cook with people gathered around
  • Increase the depth of your island so there’s ample leg room for stools and prep space
  • Place dishwashers in butler’s pantries so the kitchen becomes a place to entertain, not clean in
  • Include a desk zone in your kitchen design so kids can do homework here or you can do admin
  • Install a servery window between your kitchen and alfresco zone to link both spaces

Scroll on down to read more about butler’s pantries, because they’re trending hard in 2021 too.

white and oak kitchen design with light grey geometric splashback tiles metricon homes

2. A Warmer, Organic Aesthetic

Traditionally, kitchens have been quite cold. I don’t mean cold literally, I mean the materials used; slabs of stone, ceramic tiles, crisp white cabinets and chrome door handles. Think Sarah and George’s Block kitchen from last season’s show (which I loved, btw); quite sleek, chic and visually ‘cool’.

In 2021 and beyond, kitchen design trends move in a warmer, more organic direction. Think of the kitchens delivered by Block teams Luke & Jasmin or Daniel & Jade. The temperature is turned up in both spaces, and they tend to feel more nature-inspired in terms of the finishes used.

Not only are the lines in kitchens becoming more organic (think curved islands and walls, for example), but the materials are warmer too (think wood grains and composite stone).

metricon coastal kitchen with vj panel cabinets and glass window splashback

3. Detailed Cabinet Designs

With 2021 kitchens going more organic, you can expect to see cabinet fronts become far more tactile and interesting. The approach now is to make your cabinetry the star of the show.

Here are a four of the incoming kitchen trends on the cabinetry front:

  • Shaker profiles are still popular, but they’re more intricate in detail
  • VJ panelling is very popular and brings a nice point of interest to the space
  • Wood grains, even faux, make the space feel warm and organic
  • Reeded timber is on the rise, as are cabinets with reeded glass fronts

When it comes to cabinet finishes, 2pac and matte finishes are the popular option. Gloss is out. Glossy kitchen cabinets have been known to create a simpler, somewhat basic feel in the kitchen, and we’re moving away from this approach.

A satin detail in a shaker profile, for example, is still on-trend and quite timeless.

metricon kitchen with dark brown lower cabinets and light brown upper cabinets organic kitchen design

4. Contrasting Cabinet Colours

As you’ve probably picked up by now, kitchens are becoming a zone with more detail in them in 2021. We’re moving away from things becoming so expected, so sensible. Risk-taking is all the rage and this will be seen in moments like contrasting cabinetry colours.

Now don’t stress, we’re not pairing yellow cabinets with blue ones. The overall look is still incredibly subdued (thank God!), but you are allowed to have your upper and lower cabinets be different colours. You can even have them, in some cases, be different in profile.

Darker cabinets below and lighter ones on top tend to look best, but there are instances were you could have satin white cabinets below your counter and warm timber ones above. Both scenarios look sensational but the former approach is easier to pull off.

metricon kitchen with thin benchtop and dark brown timber cabinets

5. Decorative Recesses

This one makes me very happy, and it’s a kitchen design trend that’s perfect if you’re not undertaking a major renovation but instead a smaller update.

Kitchens are, as mentioned, more interactive. They’re practically living zones now. And with that in mind, kitchen design is allowing for more open shelving to take centre stage; a place to display decor, cookbooks, greenery and so much more.

Kitchen islands are also being designed with recesses on the outer side/panel, so you can display decor and look at it when you’re in the nearby living or dining room. 

If you’re not renovating, consider if two doors from upper cabinets could be taken off to turn that nook into a display shelf. Alternatively, see if some floating shelves can be installed on a blank wall so you can create a decorative moment here instead.

After kitchen styling ideas? Here’s a tonne of our fave ways to make your countertops shine!

metricon kitchen with dark brown cabinets and blackmarble benchtops with butlers pantry

metricon white shaker kitchen cabinets with black metal handles and industrial pendant lights over island

6. Windows as Splashbacks

This 2021 kitchen design trend isn’t going to work for everyone, simply because some of you won’t have an external wall to play with in your current kitchen footprint. But if you’re wading through layout ideas and can pull it off, I highly recommend creating a window as a kitchen splashback.

Creating a kitchen splashback made from glass that looks outside to the garden has a tonne of benefits:

  • Light will flood into the kitchen, which will contribute to its sense of grandeur
  • The glass panel will link the indoors and out, making the space more grounded
  • Cleaning the glass panel can be far easier than maintaining intricate tile work over time
  • Even if you look out onto a fence, covering it with a vine makes the outlook amazing

Installing a long, horizontal glass panel as your kitchen splashback on an external wall allows you to keep cabinetry above it, so all of your storage needs are still covered.

metricon black industrial kitchen with thick island bechtop and black cabinets

7. Thinner (or Ultra Thick) Countertops

This will be a bit of a controversial trend, because I know some of you just can’t bring yourself to embrace a thin countertop. I don’t blame you (I’m into a thicker look and feel too). The good news is that while thinner countertop profiles are a 2021 staple, ultra-thick slabs are also on-trend.

Essentially, it’s a ‘go big or go home’ moment. You either go ultra thin or you go real thick; there’s no inbetween. You should fully commit to one or the other.

It’s commonplace to alter the thickness of your benchtop profiles too. For example, an 80mm slab of marble on your island with a thinner 60mm countertop elsewhere. This is still advised. However if you’re going for an ultra-thin profile, carry it across every surface in your kitchen as opposed to altering it in places.

metricon butlers pantry with grey subway tiles and thick floating shelves shaker cabinets

8. Designer Butler’s Pantries

Butler’s pantries are not a new kitchen design trend, but in 2021 there will be a focus on making them more good-looking on the decorative and organisational front.

Because the modern approach is that the kitchen is the design moment, and the butler’s is where the work happens, we want this zone to be, well, nice to be in! And so in comes divine decorative moments like greenery, cookbooks, scented candles, baskets and coloured appliances like these ones.

A super-functional butler’s pantry is also crucial to keep in mind. Here are some ways to up the ante when it comes to a well-organised pantry:

  • Include strip lighting under shelves so everything is well lit and visible at night
  • Use baskets or trays to group like items (think oils together, spices together etc)
  • Have a curated collection of transparent, well-sealed containers so you know what you’re low on
  • Label makers are your friend; label all containers so you know what’s what
  • Place baskets with kids snacks on lower shelves, then more breakable bottles & jars up higher

If you need divine designer labels for your pantry goods, check out Local Pantry Co.

9. Cooktops with Integrated Extraction

Forget rangehoods above your cooktop. There are new products on the market that are real game-changers. This is possibly the most exciting of all the 2021 kitchen design trends because it not only looks amazing but performs wonderfully too.

New products, like the Aria Nuova from Elica, feature a fully integrated air suction system built into the cooktop. It captures the steam and fumes that come from pots and pans while cooking and is completely silent and energy efficient.

This means you can place a cooktop into your kitchen island, and not have a rangehood obstructing your view of the adjoining living or dining rooms.

Elica products are distributed locally by Residentia Group. The video above showcases this bad boy in action, and it’s stunning!

metricon la pyrenee kitchen pendant lights large round glass and metal art deco lights

10. Statement Pendant Lights

We can’t announce the biggest 2021 kitchen design trends without discussing one of my fave elements in a home: lighting! In the years to come there will be a move away from simple, strip lighting in kitchens and an onslaught of more daring and designer pieces.

Oversized pendants and options with colour and detail are also going to be popular. The key, of course, is to make sure it ties in with the overall design of your space. But if the rest of the kitchen is fairly subdued in nature, you can use an eye-catching pendant light to draw some attention.

If you’re considering installing a lighting moment with some wow factor, ensure you read our guide on the right height to hang pendant lights in all rooms.

Which of these 2021 kitchen design trends are you ready to embrace this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

This post includes images and/or videos of Metricon display homes and events, reproduced with permission. © Metricon Homes Pty Ltd 2021.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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6 Responses

  1. These are some really great examples of work! Thanks for sharing, I love looking through inspiring photos to gathering ideas and plans to help my business develop. Always great to learn and glean from others in the space to see how they do things.

  2. Great to have you back with all your interesting ideas and inspiring information
    Love the large lamp on the kitchen worktop idea
    Definitely happening tomorrow on my kitchen

  3. Great to read your blog again Chris. Thank you for your update on kitchen trends. I’ve noticed (via Pinterest) that European kitchens are using lots of colour. Not sure about pastels though.

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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